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There are some tenets which are considered to be essential in a democracy. It means the power of the people.


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The earliest system that can be called a democracy is found in Athens. In that system, only male land owners had the right to vote.

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This was also the case in Florence in the late 15 th and 16 th century. He is often called the father of modern political theory.


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While the Medici family was exiled from Florence, he became a diplomat and held that position for 14 years. Twenty years later—in a remarkable volte face —18 had replaced the iron fist with functioning democracies. Like a row of tumbling dominos, military juntas succumbed to democratic governments. A new sense of possibility among liberal politicians began to take root.

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Eventually, Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala would follow. At first, the democratic idea seemed to work for Latin America, bringing unprecedented economic growth, the modest rise of a middle class and a dip in the rampant inequality that has plagued it since Columbus ran out of gold and decided to start a slave trade instead.

All that was before Latin American democracy itself changed, morphing into a version only a magical realist might imagine. Though they did varying levels of damage, a spate of Latin American leaders turned toward one form or another of corruption, violence or suppression of opponents. Hugo Chavez claimed to strengthen the rule of law even as he placed Venezuelan courts under government control.

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In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro was brought to power by an anticrime, anticorruption coalition intent on correcting this trend. But for all the tough talk and pretty promises, six months later, unemployment has increased , the economy is in downward spiral, his son has been accused of corruption which he denies , and the violence has grown only worse.

Democracy - What is Democracy?

Just as silver brought wealth to the Spanish elite but unspeakable cruelty to native Americans, an extractive society and an unrestrained illegal drug trade have brought riches to a very few and conflagration to the overwhelming many. Latin America continues to be the most unequal region on earth precisely because it has never ceased to be colonized—by exploiters, conquerors, proselytizers, mafias—and, for the past two centuries, by its own tiny elite.

The sense throughout Latin America is that this needs to be fixed. How can the top oil-rich country on the planet, Venezuela, be patently unable to feed itself? How can the highly educated populations of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay suddenly all find themselves fumbling in the dark, their electrical grids simultaneously in blackout?

This means that democracy as we currently practise it needs reform and invigoration. The ancient Athenian experience is an idea that has never yet been realised in world history. Democracy has not had its day, but it is certainly under grave strain throughout the world. In the US, an 18th-century constitutional system scaled up into a global imperial state continues to strain under the burden of 21st-century politics, with the Trump administration and Republican Party increasingly relying on, and ruling from, the non-representative redoubts of the US system: the electoral college, the Senate, the Supreme Court.

The Democratic opposition, on the other hand, has also vested its hopes in non-representative power, by hoping for subversion of the president by the security agencies of the deep state and in hoping for legal challenges and investigations to bring the president low.

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Despite all this, there are solid grounds for hope. The most dramatic example of this is in the ongoing popular protests in Algeria and Sudan, where demonstrators have not only braved the security forces of militaristic regimes to impose the will of the populace on the state, but are also alert to the ways in which popular will may be thwarted. Yet the very fact that mass democracy is under strain shows that it continues to exist, and that it may even emerge invigorated as a result of these challenges.

Some very unpleasant people are stirring again, not just in Germany, Hungary, Italy and Spain, but in an organised way across international borders. Websites whose funding is opaque feed generically lurid conspiracy theories and Putinesque lies into national online silos in which voters are already polarised.

Has democracy had its day?

These images then reappeared in Vox party propaganda in the Spanish elections. Many democracies are witnessing revolts by national populists against the corruption and inequality that a universal technocratic liberalism licensed. We will not suddenly awake from what feels like a bad dream. Rather, as the populists fail to deliver on their promises, voters are likely to turn to more extreme versions, clutching at comedians and celebrities like Grillo, Zelensky and Trump. Prime Minister Piers Morgan anyone?