Two Cheers for Democracy
It is one of the great ironies of contemporary politics that while the western powers proclaim the virtues of democracy to the rest of the world, they themselves seem to be losing faith in the legitimacy of popular governments.
Judged by election figures, political participation has never been lower. In the OECD countries levels of voting in national and local elections is down by about 70% on 30 years ago. Political parties as mass organizations are a distant memory. Long gone are the days when party membership was the strength of grass roots organization. Even those voters who do turn out on election days are reluctant to involve themselves in the mechanics of democracy. Young people in particular find no virtue in championing political heroes; too many have turned out to have had feet of clay. Of all social groups politicians command least respect. Derided in the media for apparent or real ineptitude they are like the dreamer of the recurring nightmare entering a public stage,...
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