Even in federal republics like Germany, which lack the dominance of one single capital city, an urban-rural disconnect is increasingly visible. Whereas Berlin has attracted foreigners and Germans alike, its surrounding areas have seen a rapid demographic change. Supermarkets have closed, and bus connections were canceled as a result. It is a pattern which can be observed all over Europe at the moment.
To those who have stayed in rural areas, a feeling of being left behind has replaced the pride of having grown up outside big cities and away from all the problems that are associated with them.
That sense of abandonment — the same sentiment that won over Midwest voters to support Donald Trump — overwhelmed the advice of most of Britain’s economic experts and nearly all of the country’s leading politicians during this year’s European Union referendum.
This is why towns such as Tilbury, England, voted overwhelmingly for Britain to leave the 28-nation bloc. But when I visited Tilbury three days after the referendum in June, the initial excitement had mostly disappeared. By that time, it had already made room for worries about what is next for an increasingly divided Britain.