Why charlatans and demagogues are flourishing

The Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset knew a thing or two about the modern world, and the shallow populism that seduces it. Modern Europe should re-read his penetrating analysis on how democracy dies

The Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset has languished in obscurity since his death in 1955. No friend of the iron-fisted dictator Franco, he was nevertheless clear-eyed about the shortcomings of democracy, still the least bad system of government for humankind.

Committed to a modern, well-run and integrated Spain, he observed that the talent displayed by politicians for winning votes was so often simply not matched by an ability or a commitment to govern well. (Andrew Dobson, An Introduction to the Politics and Philosophy of Jose Ortega y Gasset, , Cambridge University Press, 1989, p. 66.)

He believed that democracy would fare much better if politicians were required to show competence in discharging major responsibilities.