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Why Atlas Director, Charlie Napier, chose this moment...

All seemed normal in the world in early 2015, Obama was struggling as he neared the end of his presidency, desperately casting around for a real legacy. Meanwhile his heir presumptive, a former First Lady no less, was readying herself to make history as the first US female President, with only a trash talking property billionaire likely to provide fleeting resistance.

In the UK, the Coalition was also nearing its end. There was growing expectation that a soft left Labour party could win power over a centrist Tory party, both led by Oxford educated establishment white men. The only seeming fly in the ointment being a vocal and effective rump of politicians wanting to leave the EU. They forced Prime Minister Cameron to promise an EU Referendum if he won the election, which most commentators (and quite possibly he himself) didn't think would happen. Across the channel, French President Hollande was also nearing his political end. His poor poll ratings indicating the increasing likelihood of being succeeded, by further establishment white males.

And then things began to change...

At first, a small surprise. The Tories win the 2015 General Election (the first of a sequence of wrong predictions by the pollsters) and UKIP get 4 million votes. Together this triggers a referendum to leave the EU. With Cameron's decision to hold a quick referendum and negotiate a deal before the Referendum which both he and the EU thought would be enough to win the vote, a bit of concern started to grow. 

Then momentum took hold. Against the odds the UK votes to leave the EU, a huge shock leading to a new PM and government. Aside from the obvious cause of people wanting to leave the EU, it is clear that there is something else going on here. The people are flexing their muscles and telling the Establishment, we are fed up with you and your useless institutions that do nothing for us but enrich those already at the top. We are fed up with getting nothing for something and we want rulers who care about us and our country.

Then across the pond, an even bigger surprise, establishment Hillary is beaten, and beaten pretty well, by Donald 'Make America great again' Trump. He may be a wealthy man who sups with the establishment, but he campaigns as an outsider who wants to shake them up (or "drain the swamp" as he colourfully puts it). He promises the people he wants to kick the ass of the Washington and Wall Street elites and he sets out to do just. Although the Establishment bites back as various reforms are thwarted within his first 100 days.

Back in the UK, we have another General Election and another shock. From an over-confidence inducing poll lead, Prime Minister May is very nearly beaten by the Labour Party, led by Jeremy 'for the many not the few' Corbyn. Again, he comes to the election promising a change to the established order with a people-pleasing manifesto of promises and giveaways. UK voters are enthused, especially the young, and more under-25's than for many generations turn out to vote, almost exclusively for the cult of JC. It is thought his message, of supporting the common man against the elites, resonates well and his fire has not diminished yet.

Finally, the Macron magic hits Europe. Once again against all the odds, someone with fleeting experience of power comes from nowhere, creates a political party within a year recruiting a phalanx of even less experienced election candidates and wins a national election. His final round opponent, despite not having mainstream political views, inherited the Le Penn family legacy and electoral history, making her the alternative establishment. 

So the last two years delivered a series of blows and a seriously bloody nose for the political establishment. Cracks are already appearing in the new orders in France and the US, but the tectonic plates have undoubtedly shifted. It will be fascinating to watch as these unlikely figures try to live up to the strong expectations of the people who voted for them with the decisions they have to make now.

 

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