Democracia

Voting signs at the Marie H Reed Recreation Center in Washington, D.C., June 19. (Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post)

Liberal democracy is in crisis. The crisis is not (yet) one of coups d’état and democratic backsliding; democratic institutions have largely held. The crisis is instead one of confidence or legitimacy. As Journal of Democracy editor Marc Plattner puts it, liberal democracy has a “fading allure.”

Indeed, political scientists Roberto Foa and Yascha Mounk show that public support for democracy is declining, especially among younger generations in Western countries. While their thesis has received some pushback, both sides of this debate are looking at data from only a few polls conducted in only a dozen or so countries. If democracy truly has a fading allure, it should be visible across the globe.…  Seguir leyendo »

Selected aspects of liberal democracy in the United States.

Many scholars have argued that democracy — particularly in the United States — is under threat. Examples include Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt’s analysis of democratic backsliding and Yascha Mounk’s stringent critique of whether American democracy truly represents its citizens. Our newly released 2018 Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project report rates the state of democracy across 178 countries, offering the most updated, comprehensive assessment of where things stand.

A year ago, in 2017, we found that democracy was on the decline — but not as much as many pundits believed. Today, we are less optimistic than we were a year ago.…  Seguir leyendo »

Is democracy really in danger-2

Many observers believe democracy is in danger — both globally and in the United States.

Worldwide, free government is said to be in “recession,” “decaying,” “in retreat” or “beleaguered.” Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright considers fascism “a more serious threat now than at any time since the end of World War II.”

Closer to home, commentator Andrew Sullivan sees the U.S. system turning into “the kind of authoritarian state that America was actually founded to overthrow.”

How serious are the challenges to democracy today? One way to assess this is to examine historical experience, using the best global data available.…  Seguir leyendo »

Voluntad y representación

En las sociedades democráticas se alternan momentos de desorden y momentos de construcción, sacudidas externas y construcción institucional, inmediatez de la voluntad popular y mediación política. Tomo el título del célebre libro de Schopenhauer para designar a ambos momentos voluntad y representación, dimensiones necesarias de la democracia, que se empobrecería sin una de ellas.

Comencemos por la voluntad. Las democracias tienen que estar abiertas a la toma en consideración de nuevas perspectivas que habían sido desatendidas en los procesos instituidos o con la prioridad que a tales asuntos les debería corresponder. No hay democracia sin esa posibilidad de “desestabilizar” al poder constituido.…  Seguir leyendo »

Respeto. Esa palabra que invocamos diariamente en todos los ámbitos: desde el familiar hasta el laboral y, especialmente, el político. Últimamente, nuestros representantes hablan mucho del “respeto a la ley” o el “respeto a las urnas”. Pero también escuchamos a Pedro Sánchez expresar su respeto al expresidente Mariano Rajoy en un gesto destacado por los medios. Merece la pena detenerse en la palabra: ¿entendemos todos lo mismo cuando hablamos de respeto o existen diferentes interpretaciones? En una sociedad democrática, ¿qué debemos entender por respeto?

Su definición en algunas de las principales lenguas europeas nos ofrece pistas sobre sus matices culturales. El Diccionario Inglés de Oxford define respect como “un sentimiento de profunda admiración por alguien o algo por sus capacidades, cualidades o logros”, también como “consideración por los sentimientos, deseos o derechos de otros”.…  Seguir leyendo »

An anti-government protest organized by opposition parties in Warsaw on Saturday. (Czarek Sokolowski/AP)

“The era of liberal democracy is over.” So said Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban last week as he began his fourth overall term in office. It’s a persuasive message coming from a self-proclaimed champion of “illiberal democracy” who has consolidated near-dictatorial power by fomenting anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic prejudice, rewriting electoral laws, and installing his cronies to run the media, law enforcement, the judiciary, cultural institutions, churches, schools and universities.

What Orban is doing in Hungary is reflective of a global trend. According to Freedom House, 2017 represented the “12th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.” This is the era of strongmen, such as Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Vladimir Putin, Nicolás Maduro and Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, who have brutally snuffed out the remnants of democracy in their countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

Si la economía va bien, ¿por qué el populismo autoritario continúa ganando apoyo social y amenazando las democracias liberales? La razón, a mi juicio, es que el crecimiento ya no trae progreso social para todos sino, especialmente, para una nueva aristocracia del dinero que tiene todos los vicios de la vieja aristocracia pero no alguna de sus virtudes como la de “nobleza obliga”. Es decir, el compromiso con los más débiles.

Son numerosas las voces que alertan de la amenaza que significa el populismo autoritario, identitario y nacionalista para la democracia. La última, la del presidente francés Emmanuel Macron. En su intervención ante el Parlamente europeo habló de Europa como un continente dividido entre “democracias iliberales” que amenazan con desguazar el proyecto común y las “liberales” que han de escuchar “la cólera del pueblo”.…  Seguir leyendo »

A referendum campaign poster for the “Save Our Swiss Gold” initiative in Zurich, Switzerland. The controversial referendum, which voters resoundingly rejected, aimed to force the Swiss National Bank to hold at least 20 percent of all assets in physical gold. Nov 21, 2014. (Erik Tham/Alamy Live News)

“In the regions where it is more deeply rooted — the Americas and Europe — representative democracy is in crisis,” former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso wrote in The WorldPost.

“At the core of this crisis,” he continued, “is the widening gap between people’s aspirations and the capacity of political institutions to respond to the demands of society. It is one of the ironies of our age that this deficit of trust in political institutions coexists with the rise of citizens capable of making the choices that shape their lives and influence the future of their societies.”

Sprouting in that gap is a burgeoning movement toward direct democracy in which voters bypass elected elites and make laws themselves through citizen ballot initiatives, referendums and other tools.…  Seguir leyendo »

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi met with Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing after a meeting in 2015.CreditHyo Hein Kyaw/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Italy, Poland, Hungary and even Spain: European democracy is in shambles. Critical threats to democracy have also surfaced in countries like Turkey, Brazil and the Philippines. Under President Trump’s “America First” orientation, leaders with authoritarian tendencies in places as disparate as Egypt, Honduras, Russia and Venezuela have trampled their political opponents without concern for anything more harmful than a tongue lashing from the United States.

Why do democracies backslide toward authoritarianism? Many scholars point to the worrisome erosion of democratic norms rooted in a social consensus about the rules of the game and civility toward fellow citizens.

But this erosion of democratic norms is ultimately driven by deeper factors.…  Seguir leyendo »

La democracia como interpretación

Las tecnologías posibilitan ciertas cosas y nos desprotegen frente a otras. La pretensión de la Unión Europea y de algunos Gobiernos de controlar las noticias falsas tiene su origen en esa ambivalencia que caracteriza a las nuevas posibilidades de difusión de la opinión, su facilidad, inmediatez y falta de control. Nuestros espacios públicos, poco articulados por ideologías de referencia y débilmente institucionalizados, son vulnerables a la difusión de cualquier bulo e incluso a la interferencia en los procesos electorales.

Lo primero que me llama la atención en toda esta épica de combate contra la posverdad y los hechos alternativos es el cambio cultural que implica.…  Seguir leyendo »

A wall painted with the rainbow flag and the message “Vote Yes!” on Aug. 28, 2017, in Sydney, Australia, prior to a nationwide postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage. (Mark Kolbe/Getty)

The new conventional wisdom seems to be that electoral democracy is in decline. But this ignores another widespread trend: direct democracy at the local and regional level is booming, even as disillusion with representative government at the national level grows.

Today, 113 of the world’s 117 democratic countries offer their citizens legally or constitutionally established rights to bring forward a citizens’ initiative, referendum or both. And since 1980, roughly 80 percent of countries worldwide have had at least one nationwide referendum or popular vote on a legislative or constitutional issue.

Of all the nationwide popular votes in the history of the world, more than half have taken place in the past 30 years.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hay muchas clases de democracia: la parlamentaria, la presidencialista, la popular, la orgánica, que no lo son, pero también los dictadores presumen de demócratas. Etimológicamente, viene de «demos-kratia», gobierno del pueblo en griego. Pero los atenienses eran conscientes de sus limitaciones y, cuando la democracia devenía en desorden, buscaban un ciudadano conocido por su honestidad y le nombraban «tirano», con plenos poderes para restablecer el orden. Es decir, una dictadura temporal. Tampoco hay que olvidar que aquella democracia condenó a muerte a Sócrates por «corruptor de la juventud».

En tiempos modernos, la democracia inició su andadura como «gobierno de los ciudadanos con derecho a voto», que no eran todos, es decir, una oligarquía.…  Seguir leyendo »

NEW YORK - JULY 12: Secret Service agents await U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre following a special performance of the Broadway musical "Hamilton" on July 12, 2016 in New York City. Clinton hosted a fundraiser at the special performance, with supporters paying from $2,700 to up to $100,000 for the chance to attend. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

It was a momentous day for the peasants of the Januschau, a remote part of Eastern Prussia. For the first time in their, or their fathers’, or their fathers’ fathers’ lives, they were called upon to vote. For centuries, they had been subjects—virtually possessions—of the Oldenburg family, with no voice and very few rights. Now, they were to partake in the incomprehensibly noble act of ruling themselves.

As they gathered around the local inn, which had hurriedly been converted into a polling station for the occasion, they saw that the new world retained quite a few elements of the old. The land inspector of the Oldenburg family was handing out sealed envelopes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week, the charismatic face of Europe, French President Emmanuel Macron, gave a rousing speech calling for European leaders to shun nationalism to protect democracy. Macron echoed the concerns of many Europeans that the rising tide of nationalism was dangerous to democracy.

True, political leaders have harnessed nationalism to undermine democracy. But that need not always be true. My research (The Promise of Power: The Origins of Democracy in India and Autocracy in Pakistan) shows inclusive nationalism — based on shared ideas or principles rather than race, ethnicity or religion — has helped to create and support vibrant democracies.

My research with co-author Dan Slater shows how inclusive nationalism can support democracy across time.…  Seguir leyendo »

Flowers and tributes for the murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia at the foot of the Great Siege monument on March 9 in Valletta, Malta. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

“I hope that one day we’d be able to return to a country we recognize.” For the first time since she was murdered by a car bomb six months ago, members of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family have spoken publicly about the circumstances that led to her death. Caruana Galizia was a Maltese journalist who wrote about corruption and money laundering in a country that had turned a blind eye to it. As one of her sons says in a video recorded by an international consortium set up to continue her investigations, she was “fighting to hold Malta and Maltese society to a higher standard.”

She was also reporting on a country that has undergone tumultuous change.…  Seguir leyendo »

Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski waves to government workers and supporters outside the House of Pizarro government palace and presidential residence, one day after offering his resignation in the capital, Lima. (Peruvian presidential press office/AP)

In late March, Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned from office, a day before he would have been impeached. Kuczynski was the 10th Latin American president since the 1990s to leave office under the threat of impeachment.

Kuczynski’s downfall highlights some of the pitfalls of impeachment, a term that shows up a lot in the U.S. media these days. Here are some key takeaways:

1) Impeachments can help preserve democracies

Constitutions include impeachment provisions for a good reason, as presidential misconduct can threaten democracy itself. Impeachment is a legal, as well as a political, mechanism for terminating the tenures of misbehaving presidents — and a preferred mode rather than replacement via military coup or insurrection.…  Seguir leyendo »

Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary in front of the Parliament building in Budapest, last month.CreditTamas Soki/MTI, via Associated Press

On Sunday, Hungary’s right-wing prime minister, Viktor Orban, is up for re-election, possibly on track to his fourth term in office. Mr. Orban has spent the past several years weakening his country’s democratic checks and balances; he has attacked independent civil society, and he has brought the media under the control of oligarchs close to his government. While doing so, he has advertised his approach as a distinctive form of democracy, one fit to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It is, he says, “illiberal democracy.”

Plenty of critics have adopted this term as a description not just of Hungary, but of redesigned political systems in countries as different as Poland and Turkey.…  Seguir leyendo »

El Papa Francisco se preguntó en Perú y en voz alta «qué pasa en aquel país para que todos los presidentes acaben presos». Se quedó corto, pues el tremendo caso peruano –la cárcel para el genocida Fujimori o para Alan García, Humala y Toledo por corrupción– no es una excepción en el hemisferio. Asombra la relación de presidentes condenados y encarcelados, en efecto, desde los tres brasileños (Collor de Mello, Lula da Silva y Dilma Rouseff, los tres por delitos de corrupción), pasando por los argentinos (Cristina Fernández Kirchner y Carlos Menem), los panameños (Noriega y ahora Martinelli), los de El Salvador (A.…  Seguir leyendo »

El voto de los animales

Cuando la cuestión ecológica irrumpe en las agendas políticas, su primer efecto es la identificación de una serie de deberes de los humanos respecto del mundo natural. Los debates se intensifican hasta el punto de constituirse unos derechos de los animales que los humanos tendríamos que respetar. Sin entrar en este debate concreto quisiera añadir la perspectiva de en qué medida este asunto modifica la naturaleza misma de la democracia y cuestiona la universalidad de nuestros procedimientos de representación. La democracia es concebida en la modernidad como un conjunto de instituciones gracias a las cuales los humanos abandonábamos el mundo natural.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las últimas revelaciones sobre la manera en que Cambridge Analytica tuvo acceso a través de Facebook a los datos personales de más de 50 millones de personas son inquietantes. Pero lo más inquietante es que esta información se haya utilizado para modificar el comportamiento de los ciudadanos y para influir en su voto y, en resumidas cuentas, en el funcionamiento de nuestra democracia. Si bien aún tenemos que entender qué es lo que ha sucedido, lo que ya está claro es que algo ha funcionado rematadamente mal. Lo más alarmante es que, aunque solo unas 270.000 personas dieron su consentimiento y descargaron la controvertida aplicación, según la prensa se recogieron los datos de 50 millones de usuarios sin su consentimiento.…  Seguir leyendo »