"Why we can not fully celebrate," a Club de Madrid op-ed about the quality of Democracy

9/15/2014
Club of Madrid

Today the world is celebrating the International Day of Democracy. On this special occasion Varia Vike-Freiberga, President of the Club de Madrid and former President of Latvia, has signed an Op-Ed on behalf of the 97 Members of the Club de Madrid expressing their concern about the state and quality of Democracy worldwide. The Op-Ed has been published by spanish leading newspaper El País

WHY WE CAN’T FULLY CELEBRATE 

Members of the Club de Madrid express concern on International Democracy Day

The spread of democracy around the world has undoubtedly been one of the major political achievements of the 20th century. The 2011 uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt seemed to herald yet another wave of democratic transitions, political freedom and economic prosperity in regions that for decades have been plagued with unrelenting authoritarian rule, repression and corruption. Expectations of swift and wide-ranging transitions have, however, been mostly frustrated. Once again in 2014, Freedom House highlights alarming setbacks rather than advancement in political rights and civil liberties in most transitional regimes.

Even though the numbers of those voting in 2014 have been greater than ever before, analysts observe that “democracy appears to be in a holding pattern around the world—if not outright retreat.”[1] Elections, although essential, are only a tool for the implementation of democracy. According to the UN General Assembly resolution that established the International Day of Democracy that we celebrate today, democracy is a system based on the “freely-expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems, and their full participation in all aspects of life.”[2] People today want to express their will broadly and deeply, in ‘…all aspects of life…’, not just with a ballot every four or five years. Representative democracy is not keeping up with the growing demand for direct participation, and the result is growing disaffection.

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