As populists decline, the center-left sees hints of a comeback

This month alone, center-left parties have taken power in Norway and appear on the verge of doing the same in Germany. They hold the White House, share power in Italy and lead a newly credible opposition movement in authoritarian-leaning Hungary.

Calling it a comeback would be premature, analysts warn. Center-left gains are uneven and fragile. And they may be due less to any groundswell of enthusiasm than to short-term political tailwinds, largely a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Canada, where the center-left has faced a battle to hold onto power in Monday’s election, may best encapsulate the trend. The forces boosting center-lefts globally have nudged the Liberals’ poll numbers there from poor to middling — a fitting metaphor for the movement’s prospects.
Still, even modest gains among Western democracies could give a long-struggling political wing the chance to redeem itself with voters.