Consultor de Marketing Digital y Comunicación en Pamplona

Pessimism about democracy?

Western democracy has proved to be the best of the political regimes mankind has tried in centuries. It does not mean it is a perfect system, but we have not found anything better. However, many people of the most advanced democracies think that the dream of extending free rights and the government from the citizens is sometimes turning into a nighmare. The fall of socialist experiments apparently left the only way to democracy, but twenty years after, it seems that some countries can survive without respecting the democratic rule and be accepted as decent members of the international community. It seems we prefer to maintain the statu quo and not disturbing the fragile peace with the democratic ‘obsession’.«Pessimism about the progress of democracy in the developing and postcommunist worlds has risen sharply in recent years. Negative developments in a variety of countries, such as military coups, failed elections, and the emergence of antidemocratic populist leaders, have caused some observers to argue that democracy is in retreat and authoritarianism on the march».

This is the starting point of Thomas Carothers in the paper Democratic Pessimism, issued by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an American think tank focused on international relations. He argues that althoug there are outstanding examples of dubious democratic behaviour, democracy has not withdrawn from the battleground. On the contrary, we can observe a certain advance of the citizens’ power in the last two decades.

«The overall balance sheet for democracy in this decade relative to ten years ago is surprisingly close to neutral: the number of free countries has risen from 86 to 89 and partly free countries from 58 to 62, while the number of not-free countries has diminished from 48 to 42».

Mr Carothers considers that we cannot believe democracy is in a bad situation. According to him, we have to reflect on the following points that feature the situation:

1. «The only region of the world that is significantly less democratic today compared to ten years ago is the former Soviet Union.

2. «Africa has experienced some serious setbacks but on the whole is not less democratic today than it was at the start .of the decade. The same is true with Asia».

3. «A surge of populism has hit parts of Latin America and Central Europe, but democracy is still widely in place in both regions».

4. The Middle East is still dismayingly authoritarian but not more so than ten years ago, and mild currents of political reform are present there».

5. «The overall story of democracy’s state in the world in this decade is more one of continuity than change».

It is clear that this picture is not an excellent conclusion. It means that we have to work much more to reinforce democracy all over the world. Now we face another thread: the fact that the financial and economic crisis is going to influence in poorer democratic performances. People who are not confident of the free market are claiming for the rule of authoritarian systems.


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2 comentarios

  1. ahrcanum

    Big difference between Western democracy and the rest of the world. Iraq held democratic elections again recently, but they are far from democratic. Enforcing democracy isn’t always about forcing it.

  2. mahfoozhasan

    Where democracy have been established for a long time, we see that a significant portion of the population are becoming more pessimistic about it. Governments are becoming more capitalist and their concerns are elsewhere other than the public, as evident from increasing crime rate, poor education, employment etc.
    I am not in view of communist, but if we are to call these countries «democratic» there is most definitely more need to involve the public in decision-making than just voting for the local MP.

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