Mature democracies must shun the temptation to glorify an individual political personality and make sure that the rule of law prevails over partisan interests, Pope Francis said on Monday.
Without naming any country or specific incident in his speech to diplomats, he spoke of events in the past year "in countries with a long democratic tradition" that had shown the need for "inclusive, peaceful, constructive and respectful dialogue".
"The development of a democratic consciousness demands that emphasis on individual personalities be overcome and that respect for the rule of law prevail," he said, without naming any individual politician.
"Indeed, law is the indispensable prerequisite for the exercise of all power and must be guaranteed by the responsible governing bodies, regardless of dominant political interests," he said.
Recent years have seen the rise of populist politicians in the United States, Latin America and some European countries.
Democracy demands the pursuit of "inclusive, peaceful, constructive and respectful dialogue among all the components of civil society in every city and nation", the pope said.
Francis made his comments in a long speech at his yearly meeting with diplomats accredited to the Vatican, which has relations with more than 180 countries.