Democratic Death Spiral

They just had the fourth elections in Spain in four years…. and the results will still be deadlock (and gains for a potentially nasty populist party). As this editorial points out, there’s almost no country in Europe where democracy works at present. I disagree with some of what the editorial says but it’s right in the outlines.

The big problem is that established parties have become estranged from voters and pursue their own policies (many of which are massively unpopular) and are surprised that they lose support to dodgy populists (yet refuse to give up unpopular policies).

The issues facing most European countries right now are simply not ones that one more general election (or 20) can solve because the leadership is hemmed in by commitments made to supra-national organizations like the EU (an extra level of alienation) and the political elite’s ideological devotion to the neoliberal agenda and the increasingly unpopular results that brings about for more and more voters.

It’s a deadlocked system that ultimately will have to lead to either politicians beginning to pay attention to choices made by voters or simply removing elections from the political mix (or depriving them of all meaning, possibly by the EU regulating what parties can exist).

Democracy still sort of works in Poland but it’s only in the initial stage of the neoliberal cycle (from unpopular to popular back to unpopular). Since it only began around 1990 about ten years after western Europe took the plunge.


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