In the third episode of the Political Science Podcast, Enes Kulenović talked with professor Berto Šalaj from the Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb. The conversation started with the topic of populism. One of its forms is the celebrity populism: celebrities bring techniques and experiences of communication from the media to the political sphere, from the lesser-known cases at least in Croatia, such as Slavi Trifonov from Bulgaria or Manny Pacquiao from the Philippines, to the well-known cases of Donald Trump and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, or Miroslav Škoro in Croatia. Populism as a broader phenomenon has negative sides, it brings polarization and even the risk of disintegration of the political community, while on the other hand it can be a corrective to elitist democracy, include the marginalized into politics and renew the political that liberal democracy leaves to the market, courts, and the technocratic elites, eliminating the possibility for demos to choose between the alternatives. Šalaj also stressed the importance of a democratic political culture at a time when the permissive consensus that allowed for de facto elitist democracy is breaking down and the threat of new despotisms is emerging. In the circumstances of the democratic deficit in Croatia, where many use the option of leaving the political community, physically or mentally, Šalaj emphasized the importance of civic education as an institution that educates for active citizenship. It should be introduced systematically at the national level, and the precondition for this is a minimum consensus of elites in the conflict-ridden area of education policy. Its goal should not be to advocate a particular ideology but to develop an active citizenship within liberal democratic frameworks.
The episode can be listened to on Anchor.fm, HPD's YouTube channel or at Spotify: