Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Disillusion with political class must not be used as excuse to remove democracy

The recent revelations of more cash for access politicians has further fed the feeling of discontent and disillusion amongst the electorate regarding the political class.

Parties like UKIP have fed off this discontent, declaring the political class are out of touch with ordinary people. The disillusion is further fed by those who declare they’re all the same, there is nothing between the two main parties. This process of feeding disillusion is unlikely to bring about a more accountable functioning democracy.
Not all politicians are corrupt, in fact very few are. Most are in touch with what is going on in their constituencies, largely as a result of weekly surgeries when constituents bring their various problems through the door. There have undoubtedly been abuses, as shown by the expenses scandal and the latest cash for access revelations. However, it is unwise to turn these exceptional cases into a norm that can be used as a pretext for dismantling democracy.

There is a growing call in some areas of the world that good governance is more important than democracy. This is a dangerous call, as it usually ends with some sort of authoritarian regime.

There have already been signs of this type of unrepresentative government being imposed in the wake of the financial crisis, where for example in Italy, the democratically elected government was replaced by a technocratic version.

The more the democratic political system is derided as being totally corrupt, the more it plays to the promoters of these authoritarian tendencies. It is important in these dangerous times to not create a perfect storm whereby a growing disillusion with the democratic political system delivers right wing authoritarian regimes whose only interest is to serve the already rich elites.
A democratic system no matter how imperfect is the only way that ordinary people can retain any control over their own lives – it is why people fought so long and hard for the vote – a technocratic dictator is no substitute.

published - Tablet (7/3/2015), Universe (6/3/2015), Catholic Times (6/3/2015)

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