Politics has moved from parties of mass integration, through catch all parties, to cartel parties, to increasing fragmentation. Markets have moved from capital controls and embedded liberalism, to free capital movements and macroeconomic imbalances. These two movements seem to run in parallel even if they are not connected. Political elites have lost control over their supporters and economic elites have lost control over market forces. Now a different group of elites is promising to take back that control. As part of that promise, they vow to strengthen political and economic institutions. The question is whether the program they offer is consistent with democratic norms and values. There is strong reason to believe that the control these new elites promise and the procedures for democratic accountability are incompatible. This paper explores that potential incompatibility through case studies of Italy, Germany, Britain and France. The goal is to show how similar developments are taking place in very different institutional environments and to consider the implications for democratic performance.
Erik Jones is Professor of European Studies and International Political Economy as well as Director of European and Eurasian Studies at the Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies, Baltimore. In October 2018, he will be a Albert O. Hirschman Guest at the IWM.