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Ruminations on the state of democracy

August 25th, 2016

Two analysts ponder the dangers of elitism and anti-establishment populism. Despite their ideological differences, both agree that elitism threatens democracy.

Global elites threaten democracy, Tamás Fricz writes in Magyar Idők. The pro-government analyst fears that the what he calls the democratic self-determination of the people is endangered by the growing power and influence of international financial elites that intend to weaken nation states. These elites are trying to entrench their rule, not only by economic means including free trade deals and other neoliberal policies, but also through ideological hegemony, Fricz claims. As an example, he mentions media outlets, NGOs and foundations that promote what Fricz calls the “opinion dictatorship” of neoliberal cosmopolitanism. If global elites succeed, democracy will be replaced by a totally different political system, Fricz concludes.

In Népszava, former MDF MP Károly Herényi also thinks that political elites are becoming insular and disconnected from everyday voters. Herényi interprets the success of anti-establishment politics and politicians as indicative of the growing discontent of the masses. Unless elites manage to reconnect with the people, radicals from the fringes riding the tide of anti-elitist anger will defeat them, Herényi cautions. As an example of reasonable politics that accommodates the values and interests of common voters without surrendering to populism, Herényi cites Chancellor Merkel, who in his view has managed to offer a meaningful solution to the ongoing migration crisis.

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