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A (tricky) question about democracy

People of a certain age often, luckily not always, have problems with learning new things. Metaphorically speaking, they doze off a little. Their curiosity decreases and they are getting afraid of changes. When you have come to that age, you mostly also stop asking yourself whether you are doing things the right way.

This also appears to apply to the state of democracy in most Western European countries these days.


At the same time the trust of citizens in their governments or parliaments is decreasing and a growing number of people feel that their democratic vote hardly matters at all.


Ways to regain trust in democratic institutions are sought. And one wonders: should an electoral threshold be introduced? Or should it be abolished? Should there be a regional electoral system or only a national one? Should citizens have the opportunity to put topics on the agenda of their parliament? Or should parliament and government start ignoring the latest opinion polls? These are questions that keep recurring in the ever continuing debate on the present state of democracy. But these are not questions that will lead to any substantial improvement of democracy.


When it comes to the future of democracy, the main question we can ask ourselves is: on which topics can we decide in a democracy - and on which ones is it impossible to decide democratically?


This a bit of a tricky question, as by raising this question we make a statement at the same time, that there are matters that can be democratically decided on, and there are other matters that do not lend themselves for democratic decision-making.


But the question remains: on which topics can we decide in a democracy and on which ones is it impossible to decide democratically?


John Hogervorst

May 2014

John  |  2014 05 17  |  Permalink  |  Share


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