By David Van Reybrouck
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Extra info for Against Elections: The Case for Democracy
Populists are political entrepreneurs trying to gain as large a market share as they can, if need be by deploying a little romantic kitsch. It is unclear how, once they have gained power, they intend to deal with those who think differently, since democracy gives power to the majority while retaining respect for the minority – otherwise it degenerates into a dictatorship of the majority that will make us even worse off. Deploying populism as a solution to the sickness of democracy is therefore not a promising path to take.
Ideological struggle gave way to the TINA (‘there is no alternative’) principle, and the foundations for a technocratisation of politics had been laid. The most striking recent examples of such a turn towards technocracy are to be found in countries like Greece and Italy, where in recent years unelected leaders have been allowed to head government teams. Loukas Papadimos was in power from 11 November 2011 to 17 May 2012, Mario Monti from 16 November 2011 to 21 December 2012. Their financial and economic expertise (one as a banker, the other as an economics professor) were seen as trump cards when the crisis was at its worst.
This is no longer a heaving sea but a raging storm and to make sense of it we have to look at figures that rarely make the front pages. If we carry on staring through a magnifying glass at the ripples of every opinion poll or election result, we’ll lose sight of the bigger picture, the great ocean currents and weather patterns. In what follows I examine national governments in a number of countries. Obviously there are also local, regional and supranational echelons, each with its own dynamics and reciprocity, but the national level best lends itself to a broad investigation of the health of representative democracy.