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‘Zombie populists’ and their ‘extraordinary staying power’ should ‘worry American readers’: journalist

‘Zombie populists’ and their ‘extraordinary staying power’ should ‘worry American readers’: journalist
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‘Zombie populists’ and their ‘extraordinary staying power’ should ‘worry American readers’: journalist

After former U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss announced her resignation, there was much talk in the British media about the Conservative Party making Boris Johnson prime minister again. It didn’t happen: the Tories ultimately went with 42-year-old Rishi Sunak, former chancellor of the Exchequer. Sunak took office on Tuesday, October 25.

Some journalists in the United States have put a positive spin on all the chaos at 10 Downing Street, arguing that the political downfalls of Johnson and later, Truss, show that at least the British right — chaos and all — still believes in democracy. According to that argument, the right-wing Tories who were shouting that Johnson had to go only to say the same thing about his successor Truss not long after that are quite a contrast to Republicans in the United States who are terrified to say one word against former President Donald Trump even after the violent January 6, 2021 insurrection.

For The Atlantic’s Yascha Mounk, however, one of the biggest takeaways of Truss’ political downfall is the fact that some Tories were even talking about putting Johnson in 10 Downing Street again — which, Mounk argues, shows how resilient a right-wing “zombie populist” can be despite scandals and a record of “failure.”

READ MORE: Boris Johnson couldn’t escape accountability – unlike Donald Trump: journalists

“After the extended chaos of the Johnson years and the short-lived debacle of Liz Truss’ premiership, Sunak was virtually the last remaining Conservative of any public standing who could credibly promise a modicum of competence and stability,” Mounk explains in a think piece published by The Atlantic on October 26. “Harder to parse is why Johnson was in contention at all. How could Johnson have come so close to returning from the political wilderness less than four months after disgrace forced the announcement of his departure from office?”

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