CRF Blog

Democracy Is So 2005

by Bill Hayes

In Democracy Is So 2005 for Bloomberg Businessweek, Joshua Kurlantzick reports on the decline of democracy throughout the world.

In many countries democracy is failing because the current generation of leaders has proven to be elected autocrats. Unlike in the 1920s or 1930s, when fascist governments such as Franco’s Spanish and Mussolini’s Italian regimes came to power by essentially overthrowing establishments through force or bullying to dominate a single election, today’s elected autocrats understand that holding regular votes is critical to one’s domestic and international legitimacy, even if those votes aren’t totally free. After the elections, leaders like Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Erdogan, Thaksin, or Malaysian Prime Minister Najib tun Razak show little respect for any institutions — an impartial judiciary, a free media, constitutional limits on power, a vibrant private sector — other than the ballot.

Under Erdogan, Turkey’s government has silenced most critical media, while in Malaysia the Najib government has destroyed the independence of the attorney general and tossed the opposition leader in jail on highly dubious sodomy charges. [more]

For a related free classroom lesson, see “Putin’s Illiberal Democracy.” It is available from  CRF’s Bill of Rights in Action Archive. It is currently only in PDF and you will have to register (if you haven’t already), which is free.