Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Global Report Card On Government Failure And Threats To Democracy

"Though the conundrum of patronage-based elections under imperfect institutions has no simple solution, a good case can be made that the way to increase the inclusivity of political institutions is not to ignore the ballot box, but to utilize it, together with protests when necessary. But so long as elites and a vocal minority refuse to accept electoral results they don’t like, the path to a healthy democracy and truly inclusive institutions will be long, arduous and perhaps blocked for a long time"
The above quote is the concluding paragraph in an article which reviews the tensions between governments and its citizens.  There is a growing discontent in many countries about the ability of elected leaders to deal effectively with problems.  This discontent takes different forms across the globe.  In some cases protests are an effective response to the failures of elected leaders.  In other cases, a refusal to accept the results of elections represents a greater threat to democracy itself.  For example, the military has replaced elected leaders in Egypt.

Democracy is not perfect, and the level of democratic maturity differs widely across the world, however, even in mature democracies, like the US, the level of discontent with government is very high.  The electoral process has been under attack, and corrupted, in number of ways; there is also less acceptance of the results of elections. Simultaneously, the problems faced by governments have also become more difficult to manage.  Western nations are still dealing with the fall out from the financial crisis and high levels of unemployment and growing inequality which are unprecedented in the last half century. Governments also have to deal with the problem of global warming which has no easy solutions.  There are also concerns about how to protect ourselves from terrorism while retaining the civil liberties that we value.  Changes in our communication systems have also put more pressure on governments.  Every misstep by government is put under a spotlight, and it is easier to spread misinformation as well information to the public. 

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