Daniel Halliday
Sep 15 · Last update 16 days ago.
Are we approaching a democratic deficit?
Regardless of there being more democracies now than at any time in history, does the inaccessibility of normal citizens to governing bodies such as the EU, or the lack of participation in the democratic process in countries such as the UK demonstrate a growing democratic deficit?
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The EU has suffered a democratic deficit since its inception
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Corruption undermines democracy, making it seem less viable and hurting democratic participation
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Certain democratic systems have an inbuilt democratic deficit
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Democratic deficit goes hand in hand with an accountability deficit
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Declining voter turn out is a sign of a democratic system in decline
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There are many democratic shortcomings in organisations that promote democracy
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The EU has suffered a democratic deficit since its inception

The term “democratic deficit” was coined by political youth organisation the Young European Federalists in their manifesto to federalise Europe in 1977. The term was later used to criticise the then European Economic Community, which went on to become incorporated into the European Union in 1993 and 2009. This criticism has resurfaced during negotiations and the aftermath of repeated EU treaties such as the Nice and Lisbon Treaties that have been criticised as lacking clarity and transparency. This coupled with declining voter turnout, nationalistic voter bias, lack of a public opinion sphere and the big influence of lobbyists, make the EU the prime target for democratic deficit accusations.

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Corruption undermines democracy, making it seem less viable and hurting democratic participation

Democracy in countries where voting is not mandatory ultimately relies on participation to function. The presence of corruption scandals, legal loopholes and unfair relaxed taxation for certain corporations, threaten to undermine and discourage the democratic process. Furthermore an unfair banking system propped up by the government have perpetually generated increasingly apathetic voters who are becoming more likely to abstain from voting altogether.

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Certain democratic systems have an inbuilt democratic deficit

The United States presidential voting system of the electoral college gives more voting power to states with higher populations in particular states in the US. This means that the few states with the highest population, and higher number of electorates in the electoral college, ultimately have more power to select the president. In a way making where you live more important that your vote, and this has lead to presidents not winning the popular vote but winning the election for president four times.

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Democratic deficit goes hand in hand with an accountability deficit

The lack of accountability in many democratic systems has allowed democratic politics to become a farce. Career politicians, often with some questionable links to private interests, get elected using sometimes questionable fundraising methods, on promises they often do not keep. The examples of this are plentiful, and the pure fact that politicians are not held accountable for what they publicly proclaim in order to get elected, undermines the whole process of people voting for them on basis of these plans.

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Declining voter turn out is a sign of a democratic system in decline

Voter turn out alone points to a democratic deficit in many self purported democratic systems in the world. The Europe Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom have all been accused of having a democratic process and system that are deliberately convoluted and impenetrable to working class or lower income voters. As a result of this voter turnout is lower in recent years from historic averages, with EU elections suffering a steady decline in voter turnout since 1979.

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There are many democratic shortcomings in organisations that promote democracy

The EU is usually the target of democratic deficit arguments, but regardless of shortcomings here other organisations are equally as guilty of aiding a democratic decline. The undemocratic veto system of the UN is a good example of this, where 5 permanent member states of the security counsel are the only members able to veto UN action. This unbalance threatens the image of these organisations and promotes distrust of their goals and of democracy at large.

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