In a wide-ranging Project Syndicate column published Wednesday, the billionaire Hungarian-born financier outlined the causes of what he said "led electorates to become disenchanted with the prevailing versions of democracy and capitalism." He argued that "many people felt that elites had stolen their democracies," contributing to the British vote to leave the European Union, Trump's election and the recent Italian referendum seen as another blow to the EU.
Soros, a major Democratic donor and Hillary Clinton supporter, contended that global income inequality and a failure to redistribute wealth led to a revolt against the established political system. But he said that those trends will help to energize leaders who have consolidated power, like Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Soros wrote that the U.S. will struggle to "protect and promote democracy" globally after the election of Trump, whom he called a "con artist and would-be dictator." But he expressed confidence that the American democracy would hold strong.
I am confident that democracy will prove resilient in the US. Its Constitution and institutions, including the fourth estate, are strong enough to resist the excesses of the executive branch, thus preventing a would-be dictator from becoming an actual one.
But the US will be preoccupied with internal struggles in the near future, and targeted minorities will suffer. The US will be unable to protect and promote democracy in the rest of the world. On the contrary, Trump will have greater affinity with dictators. That will allow some of them to reach an accommodation with the US, and others to carry on without interference. Trump will prefer making deals to defending principles. Unfortunately, that will be popular with his core constituency.
Soros said that he is "particularly worried about the fate of the EU" amid sagging economic growth and an ongoing refugee crisis. He argued that Putin will attempt to extend his influence in the region as well.
Trump's unlikely electoral victory came after the billionaire businessman's populist campaign fueled with attacks on global institutions and what he called entrenched elites. He appealed largely to disillusioned working class voters with diatribes about trade deals and illegal immigration hurting American workers.
Much of the nationalist rhetoric Trump employed echoed the statements of the British leaders lobbying to leave the EU. Soros, who gave millions to a super PAC backing Trump's opponent Clinton, was a popular Trump target on the campaign trail.
Trump has appointed several wealthy business people to his administration, as well as Wall Street veterans and donors to his election effort, making some question his commitments to the blue-collar workers who propelled him to the White House.
Trump's transition team did not immediately respond to a request to comment on this story.