The Paradoxical Perception of Contemporary Democracy, and the Question of its Future

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This article explores the perception of democracy today, at the national and international levels. This perception is rather paradoxical. On the one hand, democracy is celebrated. As such it functions as a benchmark of political legitimacy. On the other hand, it is criticized. The article provides explanations for this state of affairs. Among the explanations put forward in order to account for the criticisms of democracy the article stresses the deepening of economic inequalities and a sense of social alienation that has been growing in recent years among the people that globalization and its associated policies are affecting negatively. For the way forward the article offers suggestions in order to improve the reputation and reality of democracy. In this regard it argues that the possibility to improve democracy, both at the national and international levels, is to a large extent based on making it more inclusive (especially economically speaking) and reflective.

Policy Implications

  • It is both at the domestic and international levels that measures have to be taken in order to address and hopefully mitigate the problems democracy, especially in the West, is encountering.
  • At the domestic level, in the West, addressing the crisis of political representation is imperative. New mechanisms have to be found to make the participation and representation of people more vibrant and meaningful. This calls for revisiting the culture of political parties and changing the attitude of political elites.
  • Again at the domestic level in the West, there is the need to put in place economic policies that could stop the growing inequalities between rich and poor.
  • At the international level, the structure of the global political economy has to be rethought. Globalization is now viewed in the West as creating much economic disparities. It has also encouraged industrial delocalization. This has to be addressed.