Against Elections: The Case for Democracy by David Van Reybrouck

By David Van Reybrouck

Democracy is in undesirable future health. the indications are universal: the increase of fear-mongering populists, frequent mistrust within the institution, character contests, and point-scoring in preference to reasoned debate, slogans rather than expertise. opposed to Elections offers a brand new prognosis —and an historical therapy. David Van Reybrouck reminds us that the unique goal of elections was once to exclude the folks from strength through appointing an elite to manipulate over them. He demonstrates how over the years their influence has been to minimize the people's participation in govt to an absolute minimal, be sure energy is still within the fingers of these who already wield it, and strength politicians to pass judgement on regulations no longer on their benefits yet on their chance to win or lose votes. and that is while elections pass good. but for many of democracy's 3000-year heritage governments weren't selected through election in any respect: they have been appointed, very similar to the jury process, via a mix of volunteering and lottery. Drawing on substantial studying, a world array of facts, and increasingly more winning trials, Against Elections demonstrates how a cosmopolitan and sensible model of this historical procedure might paintings this day and hence put off the underlying explanation for democracy's affliction. pressing, heretical, and fully convincing, this e-book leaves just one query to be replied: what are we ready for?

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The elections that have so far taken place in the new century confirm this trend,’ a recent synthesis claims. 65% of those eligible to vote hold a party membership card. On average, that is. 3% in 1980), but the steady decline is unmistakable everywhere. A recent scientific study called the phenomenon ‘quite staggering’ and after systematic analysis, researchers concluded: In extreme cases (Austria, Norway), the decline is greater than 10%; in others, it is around 5%. All cases, with the exception this time of Portugal as well as Greece and Spain, also record a major long-term decline in the absolute numbers of members.

Its diagnosis of representative democracy was correct, but the alternative was weak. For participants in the general assemblies it will undoubtedly have been a moving and enjoyable experience, as the sense of being part of a community that discusses things in a calm and adult manner can be extraordinarily intense. There can never be too much cultivation of civic virtues, especially when parliament and the media no longer set a good example. But how that process might be extrapolated to echelons that can truly make a difference was unfortunately never explored.

An obvious solution would appear to be technocracy, a system where experts are charged with looking after the public interest, people whose technical know-how will pilot the country through today’s troubled waters. Technocrats are managers who replace politicians, so they don’t need to worry about elections but can concentrate on long-term solutions and announce unpopular measures. In their hands policy becomes a matter of civic engineering, of problem-management. It’s often thought that those who advocate technocracy are the concerned elite who want to see progress.

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