On 15 September 2018, we celebrate for the 10th time the United Nations (UN) International Day of Democracy. Democracy is showing more significant strain than ever in decades, according to the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.
As is the case in many parts of the world, in Curaçao, there’re malignant populist tendencies to weaken the country’s institutions. We’ve seen calculated attempts to undermine Parliament, the independent court, the Central Bank, governance systems that promote accountability, and the press.
In the 1940s, the Democratic Party of Curaçao (DP) thought that to advance, Curaçao needed a Soekarno, the Indonesian demagogic nationalistic leader who promised more justice by sacrificing civil liberties. Today I’m surprised to hear more people say we need an autocratic ruler without much regard for democratic principles to make progress possible. Incidentally, there is no evidence of a trade-off between more equality by sacrificing democracy and accountability.
Yet, even where democracies are firmly established, citizens feel powerless. Democracies are not promoting human development and safeguarding the freedom and dignity of all people. Dangers to the diversity of our society are increasing. Cultural nationalism, often invoked to suppress dissenting voices and minorities, is rising.
The answer is, however, not to eliminate democracy. We should look for ways to widen and deepen democracy and seek solutions to our challenges.
In the first place, we should realize that democratic systems cannot be imported. The democracy we choose must depend on our history and local circumstances. We need to increase the accountability of all people and the participation of all people. People who suffer from inequalities of all kinds must increasingly assert their rights. Civil society has never been more important in our lives. It must become the oxygen of democracy. It also must be accountable. We must have a free press. The media must be free from state control and corporate and political pressures.
Hopefully, this day will trigger us to build and cultivate a democracy that empowers everyone. Finally, changes tend not to work if people feel excluded. Changes can not come from one group or political party. It requires the broad participation of all relevant actors.
One thought on “Our democracy is under stress”
Everything in life needs to be controlable in some way. The boundaries are set by our culture, history, geological reality and needs for socio-economic development . These boundaries will have to change as humanity and human needs evolve. Accountability will always have to be an important component of democracy. Without boundaries and accountability democracy will turn into chaos !