Electoral fundamentalism: democracy is not one size fits all

"Electoral fundamentalism is an unshakeable belief in the idea that democracy is inconceivable without elections and elections are a necessary and fundamental precondition when speaking of democracy. Electoral fundamentalists refuse to regard elections as a means of taking part in democracy, seeing them instead as an end in themselves, as a doctrine with an intrinsic, inalienable value.

This blind faith in the ballot box as the ultimate base on which popular sovereignty rests can be seen most vividly of all in international diplomacy. When western donor countries hope that countries ravaged by conflict – such as Congo, Iraq or Afghanistan – will become democracies, what they really mean is this: they must hold elections, preferably on the western model, with voting booths, ballot papers and ballot boxes; with parties, campaigns and coalitions; with lists of candidates, polling stations and sealing wax, just like we do. And then they will receive money from us.

Local democratic and proto-democratic institutions (village meetings, traditional conflict mediation or ancient jurisprudence) stand no chance. These things may have their value in encouraging a peaceful and collective discussion, but the money will be shut off unless our own tried-and-tested recipe is adhered to.

If you look at the recommendations of western donors, it is as if democracy is a kind of export product, off the peg, in handy packaging, ready for dispatch. “Free and fair elections” become an Ikea kit for democracy – to be assembled by the recipient, with or without the help of the instructions enclosed. And if the resulting piece of furniture is lopsided, uncomfortable to sit on or falls apart? Then it’s the fault of the customer."

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/29/why-elections-are-bad-for-democracy

The brexit and all the discussion about referendums really highlight this, I think the idea that democracy is not always good is under discussed. Western democracy is broken.

tags: democracy,government,brexit,colonialism,electoral_fundamentalism