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Indeed, whether in Bern, Paris, London, Rome or Washington, D.C., the traditional parties have formed a barely differentiated amalgam with the governing bureaucracies, big business and finance, the educational establishment and the media.

This oligopoly is an interest group unto itself. It legislates, executes and judges in its own interest. Except in Switzerland, the people cannot change the conditions of public life by voting for the opposition party.

Even in Switzerland, where real opposition has swelled the ranks of the People’s Party — the only one that is really different — the referendum is the only real means of popular resistance to the ruling class.

The results of referendums in tiny Switzerland deeply upset the Euro-American governing classes because they see in them the danger that haunts them. Yes, they have obviated the standard routes of opposition by amalgamating themselves into a mostly undifferentiated ruling party.

Yes, they hurl invectives of “extremism” at all political forces outside their orbit. Yes, they manipulate elections. Yes, they avoid or negate referendums. By eliminating differences among themselves, they have left the role of opposition free for the taking.

Throughout Europe, without exception, parties of the right are rising. Important as questions about their quality are, they are overshadowed in practice by the inescapable fact that they are, de facto, the alternative to ruling classes that are grossly, increasingly, irremediably unpopular.

Most unpopular is the European Union itself, and for the best of reasons; namely, that it underlines the nasty fact that modern government — the administrative state — is the negation of government of the people, by the people, for the people.

That is why the referendum in Switzerland, which America’s Founders called “our sister republic,” are so interesting.

Angelo M. Codevilla is professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University and author of the forthcoming “To Make Peace Among Ourselves And With All Nations” (Hoover Institution Press).