Saturday, October 18, 2008

Too much democracy may not be a good thing

One example of a more general suggestion that Zakaria makes, namely that too much democracy may not be a good thing. In a complex modern nation-state, the electorate is unlikely to have sufficient knowledge to judge on the suitability of every state official, particularly those in very specialised fields, and so may choose to delegate this selection process to the leaders they have elected. And in any case, voting directly on every body that influences the conduct of politics in a democratic state is impossible, as governments must also pay attention to the input of leaders in business and religion, and, increasingly, to other non-governmental organisations that have been set up by groups of citizens concerned about specific issues. The degree of influence that these ‘special interest’ groups have over the conduct of government represents a challenge – too much, and it might be argued that democracy is weakened to the point of oligarchy (the rule of elites); too little, and the culture of justified challenge to governmental excesses that characterises most democracies is neutered.

In the articles which follow, we reflect on some of the issues that arise when considering liberal democracy: what are the qualifications of the democratic politician, and how did this role arise

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extract from a worldgoodwill newsletter

Painting by Belia