Does the selection of leaders in western democracies still function reliably? The aim of the system is to place personalities at the top of government who represent the majority will of society and, supported by a majority in Parliament, make policies that meet the challenges of the time.
Just the opposite is happening in Britain. Liz Truss does not have a majority in the people, nor in her faction. It represents the interests of a manageable minority of Britons. You can describe them as above-average rich, old and white. Only a third of Conservative MPs wanted their victory. The majority would have preferred their competitor Rishi Sunak.
Neither the voters nor the faction responsible for her policies decided that Truss would become prime minister. It is a side effect of her choice to become party leader. The fight for the post resembled a bidding war in neoliberal propaganda. In view of the Ukraine war, this seems like a denial of reality.
Imagine a person moving into the Chancellery in Germany who opposes expanding government support for households suffering from high inflation and fearing winter energy shortages and recommends that the government cut taxes and otherwise stay out of it.
Their ascension turns the usual mechanisms upside down. As a rule, when choosing the top people, parties consider who is capable of gaining a majority in society and who can win the next election.
The sly Boris Johnson was one of them – despite all his misconduct. Liz Truss mobilized the party with populist radicalism. Now she is supposed to rule a country whose citizens tick very differently. Can this go well? No, if she sticks to the promise. Then the Tories lose the next election.
However, Truss is an opportunist. She is capable of changing course as head of government and involving her opponents in the parliamentary group. And if that doesn’t help? Boris Johnson is just waiting for his chance to make a comeback. Of course, part of the sad situation is that Labor is hardly in a better position. Without an opposition that voters trust to govern, democracy cannot exploit its system advantages.