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Re-emergence of demagogues

In the 1950s – after the demise of the fascist dictators and the catastrophic lessons of World War II – we never imagined that we would witness the re-emergence of demagogues in our own times.

In the United States, Donald Trump considers judges and the media as his nemeses. He described a judge who decided a case against him as a “so-called judge”, and he told the media: “You are fake news!”. Through disruptive leadership like Trump’s, “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”.

In Europe, there is Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian fence-builder, and the destabiliser of the European Union. This demagogue calls Western democracy “illiberal democracy”. He’s pretty illiberal himself.

In Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan embarked on a merciless witch-hunt against his opponents after the failed July coup while he lectures the EU on democracy. He bandies around the word “democracy” as if it were the latest Turkish buzzword. He hurls offensive epithets at his opponents in all directions. He insulted German and Dutch officials by calling them “Nazis”. He said that the Netherlands was acting like a “banana republic” while Turkey itself is turning into a similar republic under his emotionally-charged leadership.

Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the secular Republic of Turkey, must be turning in his grave when he witnesses the growing Islamisation of Turkey under Erdogan, including the wearing of Muslim headscarves in state institutions, and the replacement of the old secularist guard in positions of authority by members and supporters of his AKP ruling party.

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