Calamos Supports Greece
GreekReporter.comGreek NewsGreek PM Mitsotakis Addresses "Populism's Threat" at Biden's Summit for Democracy

Greek PM Mitsotakis Addresses “Populism’s Threat” at Biden’s Summit for Democracy

Greek PM Mitsotakis. Credit: Press Office of the Prime Minister

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke on Thursday at American President Joe Biden’s virtual event, the “Summit for Democracy.” The summit included over 100 different leaders.

Mitsotakis, who was introduced by EU President Ursula von der Leyen, used his time to reflect on Greece’s identity as the birthplace of democracy and described the “two threats” that emerged in ancient Greece’s democratic Athens, threats that ran the risk of causing the city’s collapse.

Mitsotakis uses ancient Athens to explain populism’s threat to democracy

First, he described the threat of a tyrannic, autocratic ruler who imposes their own will onto a nation, known as “Tyrannos.” Then he described the second “internal” threat of populism, which breeds demagogues:

“Internal threats (come) from populist leaders who seek to overthrow the people’s government in favor of other forms of government,” Mitsotakis said, noting that such leaders take advantage of self-serving, “easy” solutions to gain power. The Greek leader suggested that Athenians were able to overcome such threats to democracy through their education in politics:

“The pandering populist politician who offered too easy solutions to hard problems was a demagogue. But Athenians quickly recognized those with a taste of tyranny and demagoguery, mostly because they were really educated as citizens.”

The PM expanded on this education, describing how ancient Athenians were capable of “choosing their leaders, holding them into account, and serving as jurors,” and that these citizens believed in “two main pillars” of their society:

“They said that there were two main pillars of democracy: equality before the law, and equal right to public speech. Then as it is now, the answer to those twin threats are found in robust public institutions, the promotion and protection of strong social norms, and the building of resources capable of assuring the delivery of sustainable material welfare for every citizen.”

Mitsotakis deftly connected the political participation of Athenians in early Democratic society with the role such institutions play in the contemporary world, suggesting that modern Greeks can overcome the threat of populism through the institutions at their disposal to hold their leaders accountable.

“And then, as now, leaders were institutionally and socially accountable. They were held to strict legal review and punished when they erred.”

Biden urges world leaders to fight to maintain democracy

The Greek leader’s remarks were especially prescient, as Biden gave a stark warning about the state of democracy in America to the assembly of leaders at the conference. 

Biden said that a new report published by the International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance says that over half of democracies across the world are suffering from a drop in at least one part of their democratic government in the past decade, including America.

“American democracy is an ongoing struggle to live up to our highest ideals and to heal our divisions; to recommit ourselves to the founding idea of our nation captured in our Declaration of Independence, not unlike many of your documents,” Biden said.


See all the latest news from Greece and the world at Contact our newsroom to report an update or send your story, photos and videos. Follow GR on Google News and subscribe here to our daily email!

Related Posts