Are elites jeopardising Europe's future?

In recent years right-wing populists in Britain, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland and Hungary have managed to pin the blame on "Brussels" and "the elites" for everything they say is wrong with the EU. Commentators disagree as to whether Europe's politicians are too weak or too dominant.

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Irish Examiner (IE) /

Oppression of voters will be Europe's downfall

It it because Europe's elites have ignored the will of the voters in the crisis states that the populists have been strengthened, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis complains in the Irish Examiner:

“The repression of the Greek Spring in 2015 led the left-wing Podemos party to lose its momentum in Spain. … And, having observed the EU's callous disregard for democracy in Greece, Spain, and elsewhere, many supporters of Britain's Labour Party went on to vote for Brexit, which in turn boosted Donald Trump, whose triumph in the United States filled the sails of xenophobic nationalists throughout Europe and the world. ... It is time to tell Europe's elites that they have only themselves to blame. And it is time for progressives to join forces and reclaim European democracy from an establishment that has lost its way and endangered European unity.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Passivity of elites has alienated the people

The citizens want more and not less leadership, the Financial Times counters:

“Angry voters do not want a putsch against elitism. If anything, they want its restoration. They want the ordered world they grew up in, when a measure of central direction kept jobs secure and neighbourhoods familiar. They see modern elites as lax parents, not strict ones, unconscionably passive during the past few decades of foreign economic competition and breakneck social change. They demand proper elites, elites who use their power. ... The masses deferred to elites as long as the elites managed the masses' exposure to the brute realities of the market. The fraying of that contract led to the bitterness of today.”