For the past half century, democracy has been the political ideology. The cold war saw a concerted effort to promote democracy, led by the USA. Since then, more and more countries have moved towards some form of democracy as the specter of communism was beat back. The idea of everyone’s opinion being considered in an equal and fair manner, without prejudice, captured the imagination of millions around the world. The recent spate of political upheaval in Arab stats, dubbed the Arab Spring, was heralded as the dawning of true democracy in the Middle East. But reality presents a far more murky picture, one where democracy’s success and future are both called into question. Here’s an examination of where democracy stands across the world.
The first thing I should probably note is that this is neither an academically rigorous series nor even a very complete one. There are numerous countries whom have not been included, all of whom could have been excellent case studies: the troubles in India, the situation in Russia not to mention Eastern Europe, Africa and South America. You are equally correct to note that the countries and events selected to illustrate the argument necessarily mean that many others are omitted, including ones that would run counter to the idea that democracy is on the down. And perhaps it would have been better to include more countries and a greater number of regions. I’ll leave that for another time.
Don’t get me wrong, these posts were not intended to be a verdict on democracy. I myself do not believe that democracy as an idea is necessarily in decline. I certainly would agree that democracy is under threat in many areas of the world. But that isn’t to say that democracy is a bad idea, although there are aspects of other political systems that I respect (particularly some level of authoritarianism), it seems clear that the most viable form of governance for the foreseeable future is some form of democracy.
So if this wasn’t meant to mark the actual end of democracy, what was the purpose of these posts? By connecting the dots together on various problems that democracy around the world is facing, these posts will hopefully have helped you to actually question whether democracy is a preferable system, rather than just accepting its inevitability. More importantly, provided that you actually agree that democracy is the more preferable system of governance, this will hopefully keep us on our toes and prevent us from become complacent about the development of democracy around the world.