Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Contagion

The danger for democracy seems to be growing globally. In the developed world especially right wing populists gain increasing support. This is obvious for everybody. This leads to either opportunistic malfunctioning government or autocratic rule or both. And the remedy to control this would also be reduced democracy.

Just one more example of the development will be if Austria elects a racist president.

A crucial difference from the thirties in the last century is that the turn away from democracy then was the result of economic hardship. Today it comes from a general political decline. Voters and many politicians seem not to know and care enough for mature democracy. Of course people havingn lost their economic foundation are especially easy prey for demagogues, but the trend is mainstream.

Also worrying is the corresponding development in the less developped world. Here democracy has only been achieved over the last decades. But already now the trend seems to be reversing in some countries. Turkey is clearly moving back to authoritarian rule. The Philippines have chosen a man directly praising dictatorship and violence. Brazil is especially worrying. The chaos in this big and important country could also lead to a new dictatorship. One could fear that more countries in the less developed world could follow a similar path away from their short-lived democracy.

Obviously lack of long democratic tradition and economic problems can contribute to accelerating the process. But without the global trend so clear in the Northern hemisphere it would not be so ominous. As long as we had functioning mature democracies and not least the consensus that this was the ideal, there existed a colossal pressure on the southern hemisphere to try to reach the same level and ideal.

With types like the often mentioned Trump, Orbán, Kaczyński, Le Pen, Erdogan etc. in the north there is not much good example and ideal left, not any longer a consensus about a stable and responsible democratic government, to press the southern world to achieve, develop and maintain democracy.

As said earlier a stable democracy can only exist as long as the populations are guided by responsible politicians and media. When this guidance is don by the internet, mob rulers and populist demagogues a vicious downward spiral can start. And the contamination spreads.



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