Media Democracy*

An essay by Dick Pels, currently author and political analyst in Netherlands. In the past, he was a professor of Sociology and taught in Brunel University, Harvard University and University of Amsterdam.

Abstract: The present article compendiously presents the interlinked and abruptly developing processes of media democracy and political matters’ personalization. The writer expressly opts for these processes which can radically rejuvenate communication and trust among citizens and politicians and therefore reinforce, up to a certain extend, modern democracy’s function itself.

A new urgency has entered into the debate about leadership and the role of political elites in Western democracies. Much of this has been triggered by the comparative success of the rightwing neopopulist movements which have emerged in various European countries since the 1980s. The populist claim to incarnate ‘the voice of the people’ poses a challenge to conventional (leftwing) democratic theory, which has long been quagmired in naive anti-authoritarian conceptions of ‘basic’ or ‘bottom-up’ democracy which minimized the relevance of authority and leadership. The presumed ‘end of ideology’ has plunged the established intellectual and political elites into insecurity, resulting in technocratic reflexes, absence of vision, and lack of political will. This insecurity has been considerably heightened following the extremist attacks which brought islam-inspired political violence into the heartland of Europe and the capitals of the West.

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