Simon Kuper asks “America is dangerously polarized – so why is not Europe?” (Magazine, FT weekend, January 22). Media is important, but so are electoral systems. The US combination of first elections, aggressive partisan gerrymandering (i.e. safe seats) and unlimited “dark money” prioritizes ideological attitudes and loyalty to donors, over concerns about the middle ground.
Most European countries have proportional representation, which, although boring, prioritises coalitions and consensus. The UK is most at risk, with FPTP, increasing amounts of opaque money and a lack of effective constitutional security arrangements.
While Kuper rightly points to the BBC’s moderating role, some other prominent media outlets are violently biased.
In this sense, Kuper’s wise suggestion is that “we. . . make plans to deal with must [the US’s] democracy collapse ”must be preceded by constitutional reform in the UK, to prevent our own system from creeping to the point of no return.