Extreme neoliberal models undermine democracy, President Pavlopoulos says

Extreme neoliberal economic models, in which the economic “trumps” the institutional, undermine the foundations of democratic principles and pose a risk to representative democracy, President of the Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos said on Saturday.

“The origins and consistency of representative democracy demand a genuinely liberal – and not extreme neoliberal – model of economic organisation,” the president said, addressing the 14th Nafplio International Law Seminar on “Safeguarding Democratic Institutions within a Europe in Crisis: Challenges and Responses”.

Pavlopoulos highlighted four main dangers to representative democracy: the gradual rise in the dominance of executive over legislative power, in which the body more directly elected by the people was more and more marginalised; the erosion in the quality of protection offered to society by judicial power, as an inevitable consequence of the executive’s control of the legislature; ever-increasing and uncontrolled economic globalisation, especially of the financial system, where a large number of unelected non-state entities with international reach were ‘taking over’ a significant part of the powers and authorities traditionally belonging to democratically organised states; and lastly, the decline of the social state which, as an essential condition for ensuring social cohesion, formed an inseparable part of European democracy and Europe’s civilisation.

“The clearly visible decline of the social state of law in our times creates, through its very nature, an extremely ‘toxic’ danger of undermining representative democracy. This is the inevitable conclusion that arises from the fact that the origins and consistency of representative democracy require a genuinely liberal – and not extreme neoliberal – form of economic organisation,” he said.

The president highlighted the importance of representative democracy as the system of democratic governance that best served the democratic ideal and humanity, noting that it should serve as a guide for the European edifice in its course toward integration.

“Equally, however, no one must overlook the fact that representative democracy – just as democracy itself – is an extremely ‘delicate’ good; at least, in the sense that it can never, on any account, be considered completely safe and secure given that the dangers of it being undermined, in a world by definition hostile to the classic ‘public interest’, are real, visible and constantly changing,” he said.