Democracy is the 20th century’s most successful political idea. Democracies are on average richer than non-democracies, are less likely to go to war and have a better record of fighting corruption, The Econ0mist reports:
More fundamentally, democracy lets people speak their minds and shape their own and their children’s futures. That so many people in so many different parts of the world are prepared to risk so much for this idea is testimony to its enduring appeal. So why has democracy lost its forward momentum?
Democracy has been on the back foot before. In the 1920s and 1930s communism and fascism looked like the coming things, the paper notes:
Things are not that bad these days, but China poses a far more credible threat than communism ever did to the idea that democracy is inherently superior and will eventually prevail……Even those lucky enough to live in mature democracies need to pay close attention to the architecture of their political systems. The combination of globalisation and the digital revolution has made some of democracy’s most cherished institutions look outdated. Established democracies need to update their own political systems both to address the problems they face at home, and to revitalise democracy’s image abroad.
“Democracy was the great victor of the ideological clashes of the 20th century,” it notes. “But if democracy is to remain as successful in the 21st century as it was in the 20th, it must be both assiduously nurtured when it is young—and carefully maintained when it is mature.”