Italy’s elections are the latest sign of many that populist insurgent parties are losing their grip. The European Union is growing stronger

Riding the tide of popular protest against established institutions and parties, Italy’s Five Star Movement (M5S) came to prominence in 2012, promising a new form of nonideological politics based on direct democracy and opposition to elites. In local elections earlier this month it came a poor third in most of the 160 larger municipalities where voting took place, making it through to the runoff ballots, held at the weekend, in only 10 cases.

True, in these cases it did well, winning in eight of them. But there was nothing unusual about this, for it is a protest party drawing support from across the left-right spectrum. So it almost always does well in runoffs. The headline result has been the success not of M5S but of the centre right, along with the increased vote share of the two established (centre-right and centre-left) coalitions. This is not dissimilar to what happened in the UK on 8 June, when the Ukip vote collapsed.

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