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2017 was not a year of unalloyed success for populist politicians — at the ballot box, at least. Marine Le Pen was handily beaten by Emmanuel Macron in France, while Geert Wilders nativist programme did not sweep him to power in the Netherlands.

But, argues Philip Stephens in his latest column, it would be premature to read the rites just yet on the insurgency that, in 2016, led to the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump as US president. The xenophobic Alternative for Germany now has seats in the Bundestag, while the far-right Freedom party has a place in the Austrian government.

It would be a mistake, Philip writes, for mainstream politicians to assume that the electoral failures suffered by populists will see voters returning to the establishment fold. The genuine grievances — social and cultural, as well as economic — that made them receptive to the siren charms of populism in the first place remain acute.

The challenge is to sketch “an alternative route for society’s left-behinds”. The policy map by which developed economies have navigated for the past 30 to 40 years is now out of date.

The (very) long view — Investors are often advised to take the long view when considering the performance of assets. But, asks Gillian Tett, what happens if you look at the behaviour of prices over a period of more than a century? You learn that safe assets are never as safe as you think.

Reality check — Theresa May and the UK government have had to shed a succession of illusions about Brexit in 2017, writes Chris Giles. Next year is unlikely to be any different, and Britain must expect the unexpected in the second phase of its negotiations with the EU.

Twitter quitter — Robert Shrimsley invites us to imagine that our favourite café starts attracting a rough crowd with repellent political reviews. That, he says, is what has happened to Twitter, whose rules on abusive behaviour seem unduly generous. What is a Twitter addict to do?

Best of the rest

The government is acting as if the Brexit negotiations are just about trade — here’s why that's dangerous — Robert Cooper in Prospect

Damian Green's exit leaves PM isolated at the top — Evening Standard editorial

Israel's Left goes Right — Abe Silberstein and Nathan Hersh in The New York Times

The Republicans’ ‘win’ on taxes is a loss for American democracy — John Cassidy in the New Yorker

Welcome to the ‘freelance society’ — Steven Hill in Le Monde (in French)

What you’ve been saying

Tunisia has never been a fiscal paradise and is not one today — Letter from Farid Abbes and others

“We were very surprised to discover earlier this month that EU finance ministers had decided to include Tunisia in a list of 17 countries accused of being tax havens (“EU finance ministers blacklist 17 ‘tax havens’ ”). The reasons for so doing appear to be very technical and narrowly based. They are probably the result of a misunderstanding of the efforts the Tunisian government is making to modernise its rules of engagement with foreign investors and companies. Since the fall of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali nearly seven years ago, Tunisia has been struggling to build democratic institutions — it is the only Arab democracy today, however fragile those roots may be.”

Comment by AmazedatArticle on Chris Gile’s Big Read, The real price of Brexit begins to emerge

“The costs are likely to be much more than the £350m a week, in two ways: (a) the one-time costs over last year, this year and the next are enormous, not to mention the huge amount of government bureaucracy and wasteful duplication of EU regulation we have already/will undoubtedly generate in keeping with our finest traditions, the massive distraction this has been to our lives when we could have progressed so many other, worthwhile issues for us as a nation and not to mention the cost of the snap election etc.”

Mondays just won’t be the same without Dante — letter from R Vijayaraghavan, San Jose, CA, US

“Sir, Compliments to Dante, one of your more prolific crossword setters, on his well-deserved retirement (Crossword No. 15,735, December 18), and much thanks from crossword fans everywhere for the many years of fun he had provided. It won’t be the same on Mondays, the day his puzzles regularly appeared, signalling to many of us that all was well with the world! If there was a farewell party at the Financial Times, I am sure there would be balloons, cakes and “Paper thrown at the match (8)”, as he put it elsewhere. Adieu, Dante!”

Today’s opinion

FT View: May’s Polish overtures strike a dissonant chord Brexit Britain must remain true to its liberal democratic traditions

 FT Alphaville: Here’s how European venture capital funds are performing 

 Become a Qwitter to salvage Twitter The bad is in danger of driving out the good on the social networking site

 If you want to understand asset prices, take the (very) long view Today’s low-interest rate world only looks bizarre on an edited account of history

 May learns a bitter Brexit lesson in the art of the fudge Next year the UK will have to face the consequences of its decision to leave the EU

 FT Alphaville: The long history of dodgy art “investing” 

 The Big Read: Viktor Orban’s oligarchs: a new elite emerges in Hungary Prime minister has cultivated a group of friendly businessmen in what critics call crony capitalism

 Populism is failing, but it is too soon to cheer Many of those who backed insurgents have genuine grievances

 A Year in a Word: Quite The decline of gradable adverbs reveals we are rather too reluctant to express nuance

 The Exchange: Pakistan’s NGO ban strengthens extremist groups Move by Islamabad is a blow to an already vulnerable civic society

FT View

FT View: May’s Polish overtures strike a dissonant chord Brexit Britain must remain true to its liberal democratic traditions

The Big Read

The Big Read: Viktor Orban’s oligarchs: a new elite emerges in Hungary Prime minister has cultivated a group of friendly businessmen in what critics call crony capitalism

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