The west’s metropolitan elites have not yet turned against democracy. But some may harbour doubts. In Britain, many ardent Remainers are eager to overturn Britain’s vote to leave the EU. In the US, as the political scientists Yascha Mounk and Roberto Foa point out, “the trend toward openness to nondemocratic alternatives is especially strong among citizens who are both young and rich . . . In 1995 only 6 per cent of rich young Americans believed that it would be a ‘good’ thing for the army to take over; today, this view is held by 35 per cent of rich young Americans.”
If some big-city voters are ambivalent about democracy, small-town voters are increasingly drawn to the nationalism expressed
by the likes of presidents Trump and Erdogan. Resurgent nationalism can raise international tension, but the widening urban-rural divide suggests that the most explosive political pressures may now lie within countries — rather than between them.