Representative democracy is the democratic system of choice throughout the majority of the western world, bringing with it rights and freedoms that, on paper at least attempt to bring an equal and peaceful society.
As time has passed, problems with this system have arose and people begin the question the systems validity and if it actually withholds the key democratic values, so I’m asking, is representative democracy dying?
Looking across the world, around 88 countries boast the idea of a representative democracy to differing outcomes, from the stable and well established UK and USA to the indifferent and volatile Syria, who are in the midst of a civil war. All three examples completely different no doubt, but all have their problems none the less - obviously differing in severity.
Firstly, one of the aspects of a representative democracy is for it to be as truly representative as possible of the people in the country, successfully representing the electorates views in some type of formal establishment, for example, the House of Representatives and Senate within the US political system and the House of Commons for the UK political system.
To truly be representative, you have the electorate voting and that seems to be one thing that people aren’t interested in anymore, a large section seem to find it completely pointless to be complicit with this kind of system when they don’t feel that their vote has any value - as a result, this is why we see ever declining turnout in elections and if the electorate aren’t turning up to place their cross on their ballot, then how can an election be truly valid and democratic?
It can’t, without a high turnout representative democracy has the complete opposite outcome of what the system was created to do, instead of a party representing the majority of the people, they represent a completely minority of a population.
In 1996 US Presidential election, the turnout was below 50% which shows that less than 100m voted within the election, when at that time, the population of the US was 269m people.
This is a prime example of the undemocratic nature of representative democracy in the modern age.
The convenient scape goat of voter apathy has been created as a result of this and has been thrown around every western country suffering from low voter turnout, as if its some kind of revelation in the system and that makes the situation and the system we employ acceptable and we can’t really do anything more to fix this undemocratic mess, but in reality its probably a small piece of the problem.
People don’t know enough about politics to vote, they don’t feel politically connected with what can look like a completely different world when seeing it on TV after a heated debate in either one of the chambers within a representative democracy. On top of that, the education system is lined up to not help students from an early age understand the concept and importance of politics to the country’s inner workings, this is a prime example of a failure from the political class to help fix the ever declining voter turnout problem, with politicians happy to put it to the side and blame “voter apathy”. Failing to cater to the changing times has also been a massive reason why voter turnout has fallen, I can’t see any argument from any politician that can justify us not using Internet Voting when we bank online and process thousands of monetary transactions everyday through the internet - if we can bank on the internet successfully, we can vote. Give us the option.
It seems to happen a lot within politics, mainly because people are just human and are susceptible to the odd mistake or two but when its using the system to better yourself at the expense of others, it doesn’t resonate too well.
Having such a disconnect from the electorate seems to be nice in the eyes of some Politicians being able to fiddle “expenses” covering mortgages to houses and basically putting themselves at a financially advantageous position, even more so than they already are with their salaries being levels above the average full time worker.
This is another reason why representative democracy is dying, the nature of scandal in its prime sense, of trying to one up your boss, in this case the electorate doesn’t go down well when you can easily be shown the door a few years down the line.
With all that said, I believe representative democracy is dying.
People are not being representative of the political class that is in place throughout the world today, they don’t care about our values, opinions or ideas until it becomes election run in time and even then their policies seem to become somewhat pretentious and laughable when in reality they only really want to represent the rich men in suits at the top of the rich list.
I am of the belief that the system we live in is broken, the politicians come into politics with good intensions but it is all quickly blurred once you go into politics and that’s the problem, the system not the people.
The upper hierarchy of politics don’t want democracy, they want as little democracy as possible and by giving us the tacit illusion of democracy, distracting the electorate from the real issues that consumes the world today.
Politicians don’t want us to vote, and if we change the system to an extent of us having to vote on key issues and be politically involved, a lot of the super powers would be very different.