24 June 2021

How much is too much democracy?

How much is too much democracy?


 Topic and Essay by Lawrence


There are two aspects of political democracy: the methodology and the system. The system part of democracy is generally described as the division of power, which is to be understood as the legislature (parliament), the administration (government) and the judiciary.


The methodology usually involves some form of election, which we erroneously assume is the part of democracy associated with the will of the people. Indeed in the system of separation of powers, the people only feature in the elections of the legislature. And even then not all members of society are eligible to vote, and those who do have a vote not all will choose to participate in any plebiscite. Some countries do impose on those entitled to vote to actually vote is pain of a fine if they do not. Thus the idea that democracy is by the people for the people is just a fraction of reality.


The only problem with democracy is that it is quite easy to abuse the principles of democracy and then cause a lot of harm to society. By definition the hurdles of democracy are quite straightforward for those determined and organised enough to participate in the methodology, but the rewards of power can be endless for the corrupt and the wicked.


Is it, therefore, reasonable to assume that if there are limits to democracy there would be fewer opportunities to abuse the democratic process? The result of the democratic process is that the winners practically have absolute power.


The only reason why one would want to limit democracy is because excessive democracy might lead to corruption and abuse of power. But the problem need not be the result of malicious intentions.


In my opinion the most excess and serious form of democracy is the formation of political parties in parliament. Political parties in parliament are no different than the most primitive form of tribalism. The idea that a group of people who say X and another group who say Y, and all of a sudden when one of them is elected to government they will legislate for ABC…XY and Z. In theory this is how governments should behave but we know from the National Socialists, the Conservative party in the UK, and the communist parties or racist governments in various countries this does not happen. Parliamentarians should be independent and should only be loyal to the country and their electorate.


The next most excessive form of democracy are referendums. The problem is that referendums might be construed as a political tool to avoid the scrutiny of the legislature. Some people might argue that referendums are direct political participation of the people on a specific issue. But before a referendum is organised they still have to go through the process of approval and formulation. And as we know from the Brexit referendum of 2016 referendums are not safe from corruption and manipulation. Governments and parliaments who really have the interests of the people at heart would be able to protect national interests with direct legislation.


Another source of excess democracy is the two chamber parliaments. On the Westminster model the House of Lords were supposed to be an overseeing chamber to protect the monarchy from the vagaries of the common people and their representatives in the House of Commons (Commons = ordinary people). The irony is that in the recent past the House of Lords was more objective and accountable to the people than the toxic two party system of the House of Commons.


The issue is that if members of the second chamber are elected they can claim they represent the people as much as the elected first chamber. In the USA, the President, Senate and Congress are all directly elected by the people by the Americans cannot claim any higher degree of fairness and justice than any country in the EU.


Finally, many countries share power, especially local power according to some historical set up, or maybe according to the latest constitution. Local power directly affects the people, but each region or locality might run their affairs differently from each other. Thus there is a danger that some regions are more corrupt than others and prioritise certain needs which other regions ignore. In this scenario different groups of people in the country enjoy different rights.


What is inevitable is that democracies based on the sole participation of political parties tend to be weak on doing what is best for the country and the people.


Best Lawrence


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