Daniel Halliday
Sep 15 · Last update 8 mo. 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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Democratic deficit goes hand in hand with an accountability deficit
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Certain democratic systems have an inbuilt democratic deficit
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Corruption undermines democracy, making it seem less viable and hurting democratic participation
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The EU has suffered a democratic deficit since its inception
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There are many democratic shortcomings in organisations that promote democracy
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Declining participation is a sign of a democratic system in decline
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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.

The backing of politicians by big private interests is no secret but spurious links that often fly in the face of government actor’s ability to do their jobs in a fair and level-headed way is often not called out enough in the public sphere. Cases such as UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s speaking out against the tax avoidance of Amazon and Starbucks, despite her husband being an executive at an investment fund that holds shares in such companies arguably represents a conflict of interests that should undermine public confidence in such figures. Likewise the example of CIA director Mike Pompeo and his link to the Koch brothers, owners of the massive oil and chemical corporation Koch Industries, is worrying, considering Pompeo’s harsh language surround Islam and obvious desire for conflict with Iran. Undoubtedly people like Pompeo are in too great a position to benefit themselves or their former associates from policy that is against the interests of the general population, in this case trying to promote conflict with a nuclear armed state.

oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199641253.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199641253-e-010 independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-philip-may-amazon-starbucks-google-capital-group-philip-morris-a7133231.html thenation.com/article/the-koch-brothers-favorite-congressman-will-be-in-charge-of-the-cia

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Daniel Halliday
May 9
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DH edited this paragraph
The backing of politicians by big private interests is no secret but spurious links that often fly in the face of government actor’s ability to do their jobs in a fair and level-headed way is often not called out enough in the public sphere. Cases such as UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s speaking out against the tax avoidance of Amazon and Starbucks, despite her husband being an executive at an investment fund that holds shares in such companies arguably represents a conflict of interests that should undermine public confidence in such figures. Likewise the example of CIA director Mike Pompeo and his link to the Koch brothers, owners of the massive oil and chemical corporation Koch Industries, is worrying, considering Pompeo’s harsh language surround Islam and obvious desire for conflict with Iran. Undoubtedly people like Pompeo are in too great a position to benefit themselves or their former associates from policy that is against the interests of the general population, in this case trying to promote conflict with a nuclear armed state.
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 and in particular states in the US the electoral vote doesn't have to represent the popular vote but can represent a substantial influence on who is elected. 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 some ways this makes 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.

This not only makes the process more convoluted but also makes the system less fair, and although the popular vote and the Electoral College vote often go hand in hand, it can lead to people think their vote won’t matter as a result of where they live. It also creates a policy issue, were many rural American’s that may be less represented in the Electoral College system feel that national policies that are decided upon represent more of the more populous urban populations that do not understand their way of life, outlook or economic situation. The effect that this can have is massive voter apathy, diminished voter understanding, undermining faith in voting, effecting turnout and ultimately feeding into a democratic deficit and furthering a rift a mixed society like the United States.

thenation.com/article/the-electoral-college-has-the-starkly-anti-democratic-power-to-make-a-loser-a-winner

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Daniel Halliday
May 9
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DH edited this paragraph
The United States presidential voting system of the Electoral College gives more voting power to states with higher populations and in particular states in the US the electoral vote doesn't have to represent the popular vote but can represent a substantial influence on who is elected. 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 some ways this makes 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.
Corruption undermines democracy, making it seem less viable and hurting democratic participation

An unfair banking system propped up by taxpayers, corruption scandals, legal loopholes and the failure to punish tax avoidance has perpetually generated increasingly apathetic voters who are becoming more likely to abstain from voting altogether. Meanwhile loopholes around special interest lobbying groups allow some voices to be heard directly by politicians as the interest of the general population becomes secondary. The media, the usual mouthpiece of public accountability are repeatedly failing also as most media institutions have increasingly come under corporate ownership, and media voices are more interested in creating and promoting frenzy while protecting their corporate interests. Corruption is the biggest unifying cause under all instances of democratic deficit.

In a time of massive social change with the advent of a new communication revolution people are increasingly tired of such a global state of affairs. Democracy relies on participation to function, but the presence of systemic or sustained corruption threatens to undermine and discourage participation in the democratic process or to erode it completely. Public figures such as Russell Brand have publicly supported the idea of abstaining from voting as a means of using this widely felt lethargy in the political process in protest of it. While the election of Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro in the Americas are widely seen as another form of protest against this issue, both represent increasingly worrying prospects for the vitality of democracy.

youtu.be/b1DBJ8Xe5wU?t=117

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Daniel Halliday
May 9
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DH edited this paragraph
https://youtu.be/b1DBJ8Xe5wU?t=117
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.

When a referendum on an amendment of the Irish constitution was held in 2008, in order for Ireland to be able to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, Irish voters first came out against the treaty with 53.4% voting no. However subsequent opinion polls showed that a large percentage of the voters voted that way as they didn’t understand the indecipherable legal language used in the treaty. Additionally many 'no' voters stated a distrust of politicians or Government policies as their reason, these reasons together forming the majority explanation of why people voted against the Lisbon Treaty. The treaty was later passed in a second referendum, however the problem of transparency remains for the EU. More needs to be done to address this widening divide between European politicians and voters if the democratic deficit is going to be addressed, and language used is just the tip of the transparency iceberg.

irishtimes.com/news/treaty-opponents-saw-few-risks-in-voting-no-1.1268587

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Daniel Halliday
May 9
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DH edited this paragraph
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.
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 council 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.

One idea that has been proposed to rectify the large shortcomings at the United Nations is the proposition of an additional United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. The assembly would be able to democratise the decision making process at the UN, forming the first democratic parliamentary system at the global level, and addressing the current Security Council that command legislative, executive and judiciary powers over the UN. Although the idea has its roots in the League of Nations, the forerunner organisation to the United Nations, it has been campaigned for since 2007 by the NGO Democracy Without Borders.

en.unpacampaign.org/about/declarations/unpa-appeal/en

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Daniel Halliday
May 9
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DH edited this paragraph
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 council 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.
Declining participation is a sign of a democratic system in decline

Voter turnout 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 that need to work longer hours or multiple jobs. 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.

One way which certain countries already attempt to address the issue of democratic participation is make voting mandatory. A range of different nations around the world have made it illegal to skip voting, punishment for avoiding participating in democracy ranges from a $20-$50 fine in Australia to a ten year ban on voting in Belgium, the first country to introduce such as system. This arrangement could be criticised for forcing the uninformed to vote, or infringing on people’s right to abstain. But from the voter turnout decreasing 20% in Holland and 30% in Venezuela following their abandoning compulsory voting it can’t be denied that it does had a substantial effect on participation in democracy.

theguardian.com/politics/2005/jul/04/voterapathy.uk

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Daniel Halliday
May 9
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DH edited this paragraph
One way which certain countries already attempt to address the issue of democratic participation is make voting mandatory. A range of different nations around the world have made it illegal to skip voting, punishment for avoiding participating in democracy ranges from a $20-$50 fine in Australia to a ten year ban on voting in Belgium, the first country to introduce such as system. This arrangement could be criticised for forcing the uninformed to vote, or infringing on people’s right to abstain. But from the voter turnout decreasing 20% in Holland and 30% in Venezuela following their abandoning compulsory voting it can’t be denied that it does had a substantial effect on participation in democracy.
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