Raising the Red Flag: Democratic Elitism and the Protests in Chile

Raising the Red Flag: Democratic Elitism and the Protests in Chile

By Matthew Rhodes-Purdy, Clemson University and Fernando Rosenblatt, Universidad Diego Portales

The recent surge of global populism has led many intellectuals to call for new forms of democratic elitism. Yet research into the sources of support for political organizations and regimes predicts that suppressing opportunities for public participation will likely exacerbate antisystem political tendencies. We cite the recent protests in Chile, a nation that has employed democratic elitism more effectively than perhaps any other, as illustrative of the eventual consequences of suppressing voice. Our research indicates that empowering citizens through vibrant parties and continuous democracy is the best way to avoid populist impulses and waves of contentious politics.