Friday, 15 September 2017

Autocrats triumph in democratic countries

  • Democratically elected leaders who triumph in elections often move towards autocracy by undermining checks and balances and consolidating power. In India, Indira Gandhi and Modi are examples of such phenomenon.
  • The most common way for a democracy to collapse is through the actions of elected incumbent, not a coup or revolution.
  • Hugo Chavez, 4 terms elected president of Venezula, dismantled institutions and expanded his authority. Vladimar Putin of Russia has concentrated so much power in his own hands he is known as 'elected dictator'. Erdogan of Turkey following the same path.
  • Once in power, unscrupulous leaders manipulate political environment more likely that they are sure of winning future elections. Thus they gain stamp of democratic legitimacy even for actions that ultimately undermines democratic norms.
  • Manipulation and winning elections has become a kind of exploit in the rules of political legitimacy to hack the system. People around the world have become attached to the idea that elections have become defacto requirement for government legitimacy. Winning the election through popular vote is treated as conveying moral and procedural validity.
  • Election winner claims popular support for changes that undermines democratic institutions and stripping away checks and balances. Opponents who criticize runs the risk of looking anti-democratic trying to thwart the will of people expressed at ballot box.
  • In some autocracies elections are 'farce' and in some they were 'genuine' contests though they may not be fair. Techniques like curtailing press freedom, limiting opposition's ability to campaign, and spreading misinformation enable incumbent to manipulate election outcomes without resorting to traceable techniques like ballot-stuffing.
  • Chavez systematically revoked broadcast licenses while Putin cracked down on dissent and shutting off political opportunities for opposition. This kind of manipulation is not only powerful, it is also hard for opposition to prevent. This way, autocratic leader can avoid risk of losing votes while gaining legitimacy from its result.
  • Often leaders who subvert democracy and whose electoral success is partly attributable to tilted playing field remain genuinely popular with much of the public. This contradicts democratic belief that elections are an effective check on tyranny. 
  • What voting taketh away, voting can giveth right back. A habit of elections may also make it more difficult authoritarians consolidate their autocracies. This is strength and weakness of democracy.
  • Leaders who benefit from polarisation and manipulation of political contests in their favor will eventually lose popularity. Then a tradition of regular tradition makes it easier for country to return back to democracy. One election is not a cure-all.
Twenty or even ten years ago, the possibility of a global democratic recession seemed impossible as states grew wealthier, they would develop larger middle classes who would push for ever-greater social, political, and economic freedoms. Human progress would spread democracy everywhere. The middle class rather than work to defeat these populist & authoritarian leaders at the ballot box or strengthen the institutions that could hold them in check, they have ended up supporting undemocratic measures.

In a democracy government should be afraid of their people.
Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.
Democracy consists of choosing your dictators.
When threatened, the first thing a democracy gives up is democracy.
The best cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy.
To oppress the opposition is to assault the very foundation of democracy.

Almost all the above statements confirms Modi as an autocrat practicing authoritarianism. His relentless high decibel propaganda stating failures as successes is height of all the things. Democracy is not a simple thing: It’s a complex system of strong institutions and legal checks. Very few nations have mastered it fully. And sustaining it is a never-ending effort. 

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