The news site of Harpeth Hall

LogosNow

Democracy in Decline

Millie Kirkland, News Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






In the land where democracy reigns, headlines are taken over by stories of nations where it does not.

A democracy, in its simplest form, is a government that follows the people’s will. However, some world democracies are only democratic in name. They follow a majority rule and often have elected leaders, but personal freedoms are not guaranteed. These types of governments are commonly referred to as illiberal democracies.

“When we use the word democracy, generally in the west, we mean really liberal democracy. You have to add the extra word because we believe that there still needs to be constraints and restrictions, even on the majorities,” Dr. Echerd said.

Even North Korea, one of the last standing true communist states, ruled by dictator Kim Jong Un, claims to represent the majority. Its official name is The People’s Republic of Korea. The society, though, is very oppressive. It’s completely totalitarian.

Another issue democracy faces is democratically elected leaders seizing power following their appointment into office. This is the case in Venezuela where the current president has been making steps towards a dictatorship causing riots in the streets. On Facebook, Twitter or even Instagram disturbing images of masked faces bearing a red, white and yellow flag have popped up.

Following years of unstable elections and difficulties establishing a functioning government, Venezuela seemed to form a democracy in the 1960s and ‘70s. Yet, problems began to arise due to growing discontent within the country. Because of massive amounts of oil reserves, a lot of wealth exists in Venezuela. This money, however, is poorly distributed throughout the population.

In the late 1990s, Hugo Chavez, a militant from a lower class, working family, was elected president. Even following his death he remains a controversial figure. Much of his time and effort was directed towards helping the lower class of Venezuela.

A member of Chavez’s party, the United Socialist Party, the current president Nicolas Maduro, tends to be supported by the same people as Chavez. Over the years, as oil prices plummeted, Venezuela suffered. The ever growing opposition blames Chavez for the economic hardships. They also criticize him for his actions that undermine the separation of powers within the government.

“They were free but not fair,” Dr. Echerd said about the later elections of Chavez. Although people were able to vote, prior to voting, opposition leaders were arrested by both the contemporary president Nicolas Maduro and Chavez.

The two also censored messages that went through to the public. Both controlled the public without blatantly acknowledging their oppressive rule. “It’s called soft authoritarianism. [Vladimir] Putin is the guy that sort of pioneered that,” Dr. Echerd said. “It’s not like [Joseph] Stalin and [Adolf] Hitler. It’s gentler than that.”

Venezuela is not the only country with growing feelings of discontent. Although at the moment in other countries it seems to be on a smaller level, populist parties are developing within democratic, European countries. According to Cover’s “The dictatorship of the majority”, the majority are fueled by similar motivators focused around the loss of certainty, security and relevance.

Countries such as Great Britain, France, Austria, Italy, Germany and even the United States of America all have growing political parties with populist and/or nationalist roots. The members typically fear for the changes occurring economically and socially in the world.

Even so, the true and multi-partied, liberal democracies work to make the world a more peaceful place. As former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said, “Democracies tend not to go to wars with other democracies.”

“The percentage of countries in the world that were defined as being democratic was only 27% in 1975. By 2005, it was 62%,” Dr. Echerd said. The path to this world of total democracy is slow and filled with obstacles, but there does seem to be a movement towards it.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Democracy in Decline

    Current Issues

    Tragedy in Las Vegas

  • Democracy in Decline

    Nashville Lifestyles

    I Believe in Nashville

  • Democracy in Decline

    Campus News

    Why Be Green?

  • Democracy in Decline

    Letters to Logos

    No Date, No Problem: Why My Prom Alone Was a Night to Remember

  • Democracy in Decline

    Campus News

    National Election Had Profound Effect on Harpeth Hall Student Body

  • Democracy in Decline

    Letters to Logos

    Millie Kirkland’s (’19) Letter from Spain

  • Democracy in Decline

    Current Issues

    The Many Faces of Donald Trump’s Nashville Rally

  • Democracy in Decline

    Archives

    Harpeth Hall Mock Trial Makes History at 2017 State Competition

  • Democracy in Decline

    Letters to Logos

    A Harpeth Hall Senior’s Letter to Toni Morrison

  • Democracy in Decline

    Archives

    Act Now’s Annual Sock Hop Set to Be the Best Yet

The news site of Harpeth Hall
Democracy in Decline