What are the failures of Thai democracy

Which speaks against the thesis of the demise of democracy

The democratic “recession”, the successes of the populists and internal processes of disintegration seem to result in an overall picture that looks like a new era. All of this is ideal for a big story and books with gaudy, apocalyptic titles - which, as the publishing industry knows, sell best. But in detail, a lot disturbs the picture.

Yascha Mounk and his co-author Roberto Foa presented his thesis of the citizens' increasing skepticism towards democracy in an article for the "Journal of Democracy" in 2016 and 2017, accompanied by a text in the "New York Times" with graphics that made the drop in enthusiasm look dramatic. The article made waves and the graphics went viral.

Many elements of the doom thesis are controversial in science

In science, however, the authors received a lot of opposition. One of the critics was the renowned populism researcher Pippa Norris. She made a harsh judgment about the handling of the data and the conclusions drawn from it. Contrary to what Mounk and Foa claimed, there is no uniform European pattern for how citizens assess the “performance” of their respective democracies. Even a democratic crisis of meaning among the citizens of the next generation - and thus a black future - can not be determined. Mounks case selection is "selective". Many of the Trump voters were just older. There is also no evidence for the thesis that institutions that protect individual rights are generally decaying in Western democracies.

Dutch political scientist Erik Voeten, who teaches at Georgetown University in Washington, came to similar conclusions. One point of criticism among many: the “World Value Survey”, one of the foundations for Mounk's argument, assesses approval of democracy on a scale from one to ten. In their graphics, Foa and Mounk rated only a full ten as agreement and all other responses were negative. This created impressive curves.

The question of whether the recent electoral successes of populist parties are the beginning of a “populist age” is also discussed controversially. Scholars who look at all of post-war history are more inclined to describe the history of populism in Europe as cyclical. In 2013 one of the most famous among them, Cas Mudde, published an article entitled "Three decades of populist, radical right-wing parties in Western Europe: So what?"

Even then, magazines and politicians warned of a populist wave. Mudde showed that there is no such clear trend - in terms of election results, the number of populist parties in Western European parliaments and their influence on political content. This picture of 2013 has changed with the elections in recent years. However, it is still conceivable that the current successes are crisis-related and will turn out to be part of the cycle.

The question of whether there are fewer democracies today than in the mid-2000s is a matter of dispute

Finally, the question of whether the number of democracies is actually declining worldwide is also disputed. Levitsky and Ziblatt, for example, are skeptical about the diagnosis of a global recession in “How Democracies Die”. Recidivist countries like Hungary, Turkey and Venezuela are still facing countries that tend to become more democratic, such as Colombia, Sri Lanka and Tunisia. Most established democracies are stable: "Even if European democracies have many problems, from weak economies to anti-immigration movements, there is little evidence of the fundamental erosion of norms that we see in the US."

The image of the global retreat of democracy works best if one does not differentiate between states in which democratic elections are held and states with advanced, liberal democracies. Then we can also quote Russia, for example, which is “turning back” from the democratic path. But was there really a liberal-democratic Russia after 1989?

Why the tale of the end of democracy is dangerous

So there’s no end to the end of the story?

The teleological view of Francis Fukuyama (history has a goal) still shapes the interpretations of events - increasingly with opposite signs. The apocalyptic feeling is that of a generation who believed themselves to be on the eternal winning side of history. Edward Luce describes how he went to Berlin with other students in 1989 to see the open wall. Champagne corks popped. “We were infected with optimism. We called it progress - belief in it was the closest thing to religion in the modern West. ”The past few years have shaken that belief. The West is in a religious crisis.

The present is of course fraught with problems. Donald Trump tramples on US political culture. Populist parties win. But what is the best interpretation of these events? Mounk sees his book as a wake-up call. In a reply, he interpreted the criticism as a natural reaction from those who simply do not want to say goodbye to the paradigm of democratic progress.

Of course, being blind to the drama of reality would be dangerous. But there is also a danger in the stylization of the present as an epochal change: the western democracies are talking their way into depression and thereby helping the other side. It is precisely the narrative of weakness and decadence that makes the populists strong. So the end of the end of history threatens to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

A differentiated approach also allows the identification of antidotes, as all authors call them. Levitsky and Ziblatt, for example, state that the attempt to involve and “tame” authoritarian forces has been a failure from a historical perspective. It is better to form unusual coalitions among democratic coalition partners; strong conservative parties are also effective.

Yascha Mounk suggests that the populists 'criticism of the inaccessibility of democratic power, of isolated elites and their demand for more direct democracy be taken seriously: as voters' desire for transparency and participation. An important suggestion. Only in the story of the epic struggle between good and evil does it find no place. "

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