Populism is not democracy? | BusinessMirror Editorial
The Populares (Latin for “favoring the people”) were a political faction of the end of the Roman Republic which favored the cause of plebeians or commoners. The Populares emerged as a political group with the reforms of the Gracchi brothers, tribunes of the plebeians. They attempted to redistribute public lands, controlled mainly by aristocrats, to the urban poor and veterans.
From this old political party we get the term “populism”. The American Populist Party, founded in 1892, was founded by Farmers (from the Farmers’ Alliance), and their platform was to establish unionized collective bargaining, federal regulation of railroad tariffs because they were farmers and used the railways, and a progressive income tax. , as well as a shorter work week. “These measures were collectively designed to curb the influence of monopoly corporate and financial interests and empower small businesses, farmers and workers.”
This seems to be a set of ideas that would appeal to any “pro-poor” and “pro-people” politician. Even the classic definition of populist says it is “a political approach that appeals to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are not being addressed by established elite groups.”
In political theory, populism pushes the idea that ordinary majority citizens are disadvantaged by a minority elite. For example, “right-wing populism” is often against globalization because it can be disadvantageous for local workers. “Left-wing populism” may be against globalization because it gives too much power to multinationals.
Populist leaders are democratically elected to help “solve” this situation. However, it appears that their political opponents label these leaders as authoritarian.
In 2018, a local political leader said: “New modes of populism, protectionism and extreme nationalism have emerged as a supposed alternative to the defunct democratic values. This gave birth to a new breed of populist leaders seeking to introduce tyranny as a more alluring counterpoint to democracy. In 2021, the same person said what is needed is to fend off the rise of populism in the Philippines by listening more to the people. Apparently, listening to people is a new idea.
Some “populist” leaders have low approval ratings, like Bolsonaro from Brazil and Moon from South Korea. But the list of those with overwhelmingly positive approval ratings includes Morrison from Australia, Widodo from Indonesia, Obrador from Mexico, Modi from India and Duterte from the Philippines. From the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center in early 2020: “Democracy in South Korea is crumbling from within.” Yet in South Korea’s 2020 parliamentary elections, Moon’s Democratic Party scored a historic landslide victory, winning the most parties since 1960, securing a three-fifths super-majority.
Maybe democracy only collapses – or dies – when the opposition candidate loses.
Now, this paradox: The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are expected to take place in July. In January, 80% of people said the Olympics should be postponed / canceled. An annulment petition reached 300,000 signatures two weeks ago. Home supporters in Japan may not be allowed to attend, but some 90,000 athletes and supporters will attend.
The International Olympic Committee and local organizers argue that the Games will not be canceled. But then again, IOC President Thomas Bach canceled a visit to Japan due to the increase in Covid cases. Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and six other major prefectures are in a state of emergency.
Who should have the final say? The people or the government? And who represents democracy? Abhijit Naskar said: “Dictatorship is the rule of cunning, democracy is the rule of fools”.