Sorry, Justin Trudeau. Désolé, Emmanuel Macron. You've been replaced as the West's sexiest politicians by a socks-and-sandals retread from the seventies whose young fans never experienced that decade's failed Labour policies, the same ones Jeremy Corbyn, the party's current leader, wants to re-enact.
For Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Macron, the image-obsessed leaders of Canada and France, respectively, Britain's election results carry an ominous warning. All the glamorous photo spreads in Vogue and Paris Match can eventually start to wear thin when the time comes to actually govern and you have to disappoint people. That's when those selfies start to make you look superficial, instead of accessible, and left-leaning onetime believers wonder whether they've been had. In such times, it helps to have convictions to fall back on.
Mr. Macron is still riding a wave of adulation among global elites after having clobbered far-right leader Marine Le Pen in last month's French presidential election. His new political party is set to win a landslide in Sunday's legislative elections, owing more to its leader's global star status than anything else. But the honeymoon cannot last. Record-low turnout – fewer than half of French voters cast a ballot in the first round of the legislative vote – will lead many opponents, including the Corbyn-like far-left flame-thrower Jean-Luc Mélenchon, to question the legitimacy of Mr. Macron's government and any economic reforms he seeks to implement.
Still, given the utter disarray of France's main opposition parties, Mr. Macron stands a far better chance of withstanding the inevitable protests that await him than Mr. Trudeau does in holding back a Corbyn-inspired backlash here. Canada's Prime Minister will increasingly face the wrath of disappointed left-leaning voters who abandoned Tom Mulcair's centrist New Democrats for the Liberals in 2015, believing Mr. Trudeau's bromides about how combatting climate change would be a win-win for the economy. No pain, all gain.
For Martin Lukacs, a Canadian-based writer for The Guardian, Mr. Corbyn's electoral breakthrough helps to see Mr. Trudeau "in proper perspective: as a smooth-talking centrist who has put the most coiffed gloss yet on the bankrupted and besieged neoliberalism of the age." Mr. Trudeau vows to tackle austerity, climate change and First Nations reconciliation only to engage in "ploys that quietly evacuate them of any meaning." It is, Mr. Lukacs concludes, "the politics of hype."
The lesson New Democrats are thus likely to draw from Mr. Corbyn's stunning surge, leading the Labour Party to its biggest gain in the popular vote since 1945, is that the West is once again ripe for leftist radicalism. It's the same lesson rank-and-file Democrats are drawing south of the border, as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders ridicules the party establishment for "clinging to an overly cautious, centrist ideology" that helped elect U.S. President Donald Trump.
To his credit, Mr. Corbyn energized young British voters precisely because he wasn't faking it. He promised an alternative to the status quo of precarious employment, austerity, rising tuition fees and a warming planet. It did not matter that Mr. Corbyn's troika of nationalization, public borrowing and unionization are the very policies that brought Britain's economy to its knees in the 1970s, when it was plagued by endless strikes and wage and price controls and required a bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund.
To young Brits who never lived through the seventies, Mr. Corbyn's ideas seemed fresh and rad. That especially goes for his pledge to reinstate free tuition at British universities. Yet one need only look across the English Channel for evidence of the long-term consequences of such a policy.
No country's universities have declined as fast or as far as France's. France now has only one university among the world's Top 100. Its public universities are plagued by overcrowding, underfunding and crumbling infrastructure. More than half of all first-year students who entered French universities in 2012-13 dropped out, yet first-year spots in the most sought after programs are filled by lottery. Besides, France's Grandes Écoles operate outside of the public-university system and remain as elite-oriented as ever, belying the so-called democratization of French higher education.
It would be a mistake for Mr. Corbyn and his fans on this side of the Atlantic to attribute his electoral surge to a desire among voters for radicalism. On the contrary, British voters sought to punish Theresa May's Conservatives and stall her radical plan to yank Britain out of the European Union. And no group of British voters opposes a hard Brexit as much as the young. Nothing radical about them.
Then again, perhaps the only sure lesson of Britain's election is that socks with sandals can be sexy, after all. It's all in how you wear them.