Cris Lingle, standing, during his conference at the UFM; beside him is Gerbert Bendfelt and in the back, Carroll de Rodríguez

“Populism concentrates political power and economic decisions in a small elite; trends to focus on redistributing in stead of doing it based on wealth creation; it promotes divisions between rich and poor; it weakens the national identity”, warned Christopher Lingle during the conference on populism dangers he lectured to the members of the Public Choice Analysis Center (Cadep) of the Universidad Francisco Marroquín, last Tuesday September 19th 2006.

Lingle explained that populism produces some gains in the short run, especially for the governing groups; in the long run it generates losses for all the productive sectors.

At the same time, populism creates false expectations among the poor and diminishes the entrepreneurial spirit.

Carroll de Rodriguez, director of Cadep, wrote on
her column in the newspaper Siglo Veintiuno that, “in practice, populism does not liberate the common person from the oppression of the traditional corporate elites nor from corruption; it creates new political elites, also corrupt, that make the country even poorer.  In Lingle’s opinion, this cocktail of nationalism, socialism and demagogy erodes the foundings of a State of Law and diminishes the value of a democratic exercise”.  

“Presidential candidates of 2007 should listen to this voice of alarm.  Instead of making populist speeches of false promises to the electorate, they could popularize measures that would bring benefits to the people and will make economic growth feasible.  It makes no sense to conclude that, only through populism you can be successful at the urns, adopting destructive postures; the bureaucrats around the world that have made economic growth possible have a real and deserved popularity”, says the director of Cadep.

Christopher Lingle is a visiting professor at the Universidad Francisco Marroquín.  He is author of The Rise & Decline of the Asian Century; Singapore’s Authoritarian Capitalism: Asian Values, Free Market Illusions and Political Dependency, among other books.

More photos,
here.