This Year’s G7 Summit Doubles as a Club for Unloved Leaders
The disenchantment towards the current leadership is proving to be a test of the staying power of democracy at a time when it has come under pressure. Mr. Abramowitz’s group, which tracks democracy nation by nation, has found that freedom has retreated around the world 17 years in a row, amid rollbacks in places like Hungary and Poland. While former President Donald J. Trump has called for “termination” of the US Constitution to return him to power, Mr. Biden often says that he sees his mission as defending democracy.
Amid the general sourness, each leader is confronting distinct problems. Mr. Macron, who won re-election just last year with 58.5 percent of the vote, saw his support plummet when he pushed through an increase in the retirement age to 64 from 62, touching off violent street protests. A poll released this month found that Mr. Macron would lose a rematch to Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader he defeated last year.
Similarly, if elections were held now, recent surveys show that Mr. Sunak’s Conservative Party would lose to the Labor Party in Britain, Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal Party would lose to the Conservative Party in Canada, and Mr. Scholz’s Social Democratic Party would lose to the Christian Democratic Union in Germany.
Some political veterans attribute the weakness of the G7 leaders to economic anxiety following the Covid-19 pandemic. “There seems to be a wave of dissatisfaction sweeping our democracies,” said Carl Bildt, a former prime minister of Sweden. “I think the return of inflation, long gone, might have something to do with this.”
Inflation has certainly sapped support for Mr. Biden, along with the crisis at the southwestern border, fear of urban crime, anger over government spending and concerns over the president’s age as he asks voters to give him a second term keeping him in power until he is 86.
The best thing Mr. Biden has going for him politically at the moment is the likelihood that he might face Mr. Trump again next year, a rematch that his strategists assume would galvanize Democrats and independents who are not enthusiastic about the president but are inexorably opposed to the former president. Even so, according to polls, it is not a given that the president can beat his predecessor a second time, and Mr. Biden’s peers in Japan are deeply worried about a Trump return to power, remembering him as a disruptive, even dangerous, force.