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Why Are Democracies Failing Us?

By ITS Education Asia

I recently read the article published on the BBC website Has British democracy let its people down? source: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40245805 and wished to add some comment to this phenomena sweeping many democracies in the developed world.  The question really is Why are democracies failing us?”.  There seems to be an increasing trend that voting is creating outcomes that are not desirable for our countries.

The UK is a very good case study of this.  The Brexit vote was expected to fail.  Even those who voted for Brexit did not expect the vote to succeed.  After Brexit, there has been widespread voter remorse.  Many people who voted for Brexit have expressed the claim that they did so not really wanting the UK to withdraw from the EU but rather as a protest against the status quo and a desire to see greater controls over immigration.

Terresa May called the recent UK election with the justification being that she wanted a mandate to negotiate Brexit with the EU.  The voters have returned a mess as outlined in the article.  The UK now goes into the negotiations with an extremely weak UK government that will struggle to achieve much at home.  The small parties who control the balance of power and represent a very small part of the UK electorate now wield power over all the UK.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) which in recent times lost a vote for Scotland to leave the UK now wants to vote again.  The argument being that Scotland does not want to leave the EU and should not be forced to do so.  This suggests that the leaders of this party do not feel bound by the referendum they lost.

The UK just 12 months ago was doing quite well economically and had a very stable political future.  The pound was strong and people had certainty.  Now thanks to politicians who have pursued their own agendas, the country is in a precarious position. The elections/referendums pushed on to the population have resulted in outcomes that are not in the majority of people’s best interests.

The problem is fairly straight forward.  The politicians should be researching the difficult issues, taking expert advice and making informed decisions that are in the best interest of the country.  The elected officials should then explain the reasons for their decision.  The problem in my view is that because of mass/social media and the constant stream of news, public opinion polls etc politicians do not want to “stick their necks out” and take risks.  They fear alienating voters.  Thus it has become easier just to simply ask for a vote from the public.  This is then seeking people who are poorly informed to form a view on complex issues and vote in a “yes or no” type situation.  The reality with most complex issues is that they need compromise.  Black and white situations rarely exist in complex issues facing a country. Most complex issues are “grey” and require compromise and flexibility to provide the best outcome for a country.

My own view is it is not democracy that is failing us but the lack of strong leadership.  There appears to be too many politicians that have gained their power by compromise within their party and do not have strong principles or beliefs.  They are just like leaves in the wind.  People do not need to vote often.  Democracy works because governments change and this limits corruption and nepotism.  People need to have confidence that their leaders will make the correct decisions and lead…..

Dulwich College Singapore

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

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