Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Democracy Gains Ground

I stumbled across this graph in the 2005 Human Development Report; and it provides cause for optimism: democracy is infinitely preferable to tyranny; and so its rise is a very positive trend.

And yet when it comes to democratic governance there is still much cause for concern in the world. For a start, in many parts of the world (Latin American being a good example) the switch to democracy, while bringing human rights benefits, has not yet brought economic benefits to the poor in a way that might be hoped. Likewise, in many countries democracy is a relatively shallow phenomenon, and what is still lacking is substantial participation from all sectors of society in the decision making process. Furthermore, there is some evidence that the globalisation of financial capital flows has limited the scope, at a national level, for alternative economic policies. Finally, democracies are only as good as their information flows, and with media consolidation and the rise of Murdoch-news, in many countries it appears that the information flows are getting worse.

In some ways this could be described as the democracy paradox - as the number of countries with democratic governments is increasing, the 'depth' of democracy world-wide is decreasing.

More on what could be done about this in a later post.

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