Despots, but not enlightened - Economic Policy

Despots, but not enlightened – Economic Policy

One can wonder what is the legitimacy, in a democracy, of a person holding an authority by the mandate of the people and that he exercises in spite of the opposition of the majority of this one.

There are small statements by people, not necessarily important, which on the other hand have a very great symbolic value. Thus the Brussels regional minister Pascal Smet recently declared: “If the project is good, you do it despite the will of the people. And in the end, they are happy”. This is not a fortuitous statement because the same minister had already made two almost identical statements in 2018. Moreover, he stood out for an effectively authoritarian policy of the cabinets he led, which are very important in Brussels : mobility and urbanism, successively.

There are small statements by people, not necessarily important, which on the other hand have a very great symbolic value. Thus the Brussels regional minister Pascal Smet recently declared: “If the project is good, you do it despite the will of the people. And in the end, they are happy”. This is not a fortuitous statement because the same minister had already made two almost identical statements in 2018. Moreover, he stood out for an effectively authoritarian policy of the cabinets he led, which are very important in Brussels : mobility and urbanism, successively. One can wonder what is the legitimacy, in a democracy, of a person holding an authority by the mandate of the people and that he exercises in spite of the opposition of the majority of this one. This is all the more true in the context of this minister. Elected from a small party (Vooruit) with very few votes, he owes his election to the Brussels Parliament and his appointment as minister only to the very specific and very undemocratic rules relating to the over-representation of the small minority Flemish, both in Parliament and in the Brussels executive. Pascal Smet can hardly claim strong democratic legitimacy with the rather miserable percentage of votes he received. But even if he had been elected with a comfortable majority, would that allow him to do the opposite of what this majority wants to conduct a policy as he sees fit? He certainly has the power to do so legally, as long as Parliament maintains its confidence in him. But there is nothing that justifies that, knowing that a measure is rejected by his voters, he seeks to impose it anyway. Undoubtedly this person imagines she is at a higher level that would allow her to know better than anyone if “a project is good”. If the population thinks otherwise, in a democracy, that should mean that a project is not good. Otherwise, he moves away from democratic legitimacy, to try to find it in an alleged intellectual superiority that he arrogates to himself and that nothing can demonstrate. Is there really reason to think that he knows things better than the population? How would he be superior, to allow himself to impose his personal views, considering that only he knows if a project is good? Historically, this is called “despotism”. Without looking for a majority, various monarchs have thus, like Joseph II of Austria in our regions, believed that they could impose their point of view because they knew better than everyone else. Sometimes, by chance, it turned out that they might be right. In other cases, it was not so. They arrogated to themselves the title of “enlightened” despots, thereby acknowledging that they were tyrants but maintaining, by an early utilitarian approach, that they were doing good. They were never democrats. The problem is that it is they themselves who claim to be “enlightened”… and that is rarely the case, for Joseph II as for Pascal Smet, a petty tyrant with great ambitions and a decidedly oversized ego. .

.

Comments

0 comments

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.