What Future for Democracy?

Barry Turner Investigates Democracy’s Role in the Modern World
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Democracy is in poor health. Freedom House, a watchdog group which reports on political rights and civil liberties, calculates that of 195 countries assessed over the last 8 years, there has been a net decline in freedom. Democracy has languished in Bangladesh, Kenya, Thailand and Venezuela and would appear to be in terminal collapse in Russia and Turkey.

Expectations that the Arab Spring would spread democracy throughout the Middle East have been disappointed. Meanwhile, in the US and Europe where modern democracy was born and nurtured, there is widespread disillusionment with a system of government that is prone to inefficiency and to a none too subtle form of corruption which favours the wealth and power of a small minority.

If voting patterns are anything to go by, political participation is in sharp decline. According to the OECD, levels of voting in national and local elections are down 70% on 30 years ago. In several of what are dubbed ‘advanced’ countries there is a disturbing...

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