Magazine Review: What’s gone wrong with Democracy

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Apartfrom ironical pages of “the Triumph of Vladimir Putin“, this six-page essay about democracy by “the Economist” is also worth-pondering among the magazine writings in year 2014.  At the end of 20th century, after fascism and communism were nipped into the bud as a whole, scholar Francis Fukuyama even optimistically suggested democracy will triumph as a dominant victor at last.  However, with my doubts towards his optimistic attitude, would there be waves of democratic challenges in reality?

First, countries which are adopting democracy do not necessarily connote to a bright development in economic or political aspects.  The financial doldrums in 2008 revealed flaws of western political system by the allowance to develop astonishing debts.  Countries such as Italy only focus on short-term borrowings but neglect long-term investment, thereby creating a debted democracy.  What’s more, vital elements of democracy are being ossified with merely over-emphasize of elections but not guaranteeing individual freedom and constraining the power of leaders.  In the autocratic leadership such as by Putin, election is only an illusion when the top position will falls into Putin’s grab in the end.  In the meantime, after Iraq war in 2003 and the collapse of one Egyptian regime in 2011, one is up to its neck in deepening instability; and the other is left to the Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood’s hand.  Here came an unpalatable truth that, after adopting democracy, some countries are turning matters even worse.

“The Economist” also pointed out, in countries/regions where democracy has been proudly regarded as their core value, some shortcomings or challenges are also lurking beneath the surface.  For global problems to be minimized, some national politicians are trying to hand certain power to un-elected technocrats.  Regionally, America is blanketed by debts and special privileges to the lobbyists.  Whereas in European Union, it has become the citadel for populist parties after its unsuccessful attempt to bring down democratic deficits.  Due to the sceptical feeling to the government, the vote rate slumped.  Some voters even turn to campaigns which are for fun, such as a quarter of them supported a party founded by a comedian in Italy in 2013.  All these aforementioned worrying phenomenon may increase the possibility of an unstable democratic system.

It is suggested that, to rectify the above flaws, appropriate checks and balances, freedom of speech and setting limits on government’s power are of paramount importance.  Majoritarianism should be put into an halt so as to prevail leaders to erode their constraints.  To balance financial budget, others including renewing laws in a fixed time, adopting pragmatic reforms and tight fiscal rules for surplus are also within government’s capacity.  Plus, to enhance civic awareness and combine technocracy and democracy, countries can refer to Finland where e-democracy is being sped up.  This could allow citizens to vote for contradictory policies or voice out their opinions by signing in the web.

In the word of Democracy, “demo” implies people, and “cracy” means power or rule in Greek.  In my opinion, democracy’s original cutting-edges, comprising the separation of powers as well as checks and balances, still outweigh the above mentioned limitations.  This political idea, if being promoted in a careful manner,  can play a significant role in preventing authoritarian ruler to monopolize power for one-man rule in general.  Through debates and regular elections, reasonable matters, albeit time-consuming, can be discussed thoroughly so as to minimize the risk of misjudgement.  Citizens’ voices would be spread and suitable policies could be implemented to win voters’ support.  After all, European Union is still upholding democracy as its ultimate entry standard, even America and western European countries have been embracing such deeply-rooted universal value.  This political avocation of “power to people” would not lose its lure, but only if it is conducted with a sense of stability and responsibility.

© Variety as Life Spice 2015


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