Francis Fukuyama has described democracy in his work —’The End of History and the Last Man’. He concluded, “The end-point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy is the final form of human government.
Democracy is not just a word, and not something that comes through random legislation or elections etc. Democracy is a process that can only function when it is embedded in the culture and routine of the people. It can only flourish when it evolves through reforms, education and civic sense, which too requires a consensus of the people, decentralization and separation of powers. But the most important part of a democratic system is a structural shift of society from a feudal and tribal setup to a working-class urbanized society.
The world’s (almost) eight billion people live under a wide variety of political systems. According to Democracy index prepared by an organisation named the Economic Intelligence Unit, based on sixty indicators in five different categories: 1. Electoral process and pluralism; 2. Functioning of the government; 3. Political participation; 4. Political culture; 5. Civil liberties.
In 2020, of the 167 countries in the survey, 23 countries were labelled as ‘full democracies’, 52 as ‘flawed democracies’, 35 as ‘hybrid regimes’, and 57 as ‘authoritarian regimes ’.
Full democracies are nations where:
Civil liberties and fundamental political freedoms are respected
Valid systems of governmental checks and balances exist
There are limited problems in democratic functioning
Media is diverse and independent
Only 6.4% population live under the full democratic system that includes, Western Europe, East Asia and Oceania: New Zealand, Taiwan, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Costa Rica, Uruguay Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland.
Flawed democracies are nations where:
Elections are fair and free
Basic liberties are honoured but may have issues
There are issues in the functioning of governance
39.3% population live under this category that includes
Eastern Europe , Moldova, Montenegro, and North Macedonia, Israel, Spain and Cyprus are considered flawed democracies
Hybrid regimes are nations where:
Electoral fraud or irregularities occur regularly
Pressure is applied to political opposition
Corruption is widespread and rule of law tends to be weak
Media is pressured and harassed
There are issues in the functioning of governance
17.2% population live under this category which includes
Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Pakistan, Ukraine, Morocco and Tunisia fall into the hybrid regime classification.
Authoritarian regimes are nations where:
Political pluralism is non-existent or limited
The population is ruled by absolute monarchies or dictatorships
Infringements and abuses of civil liberties are common
Elections are not fair or free (if they occur at all)
Media is state-owned or controlled directly or indirectly by the ruling regime
The judiciary system is not independent
Criticism of the government is censored
37.1% population live under this category which includes
Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Russia’s , Afghanistan, Myanmar, North Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Syria, China Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are the authoritarian regimes
True democracy means a system wherein wealth and opportunities would be distributed; that ensures the welfare of ‘the people’, where basic human rights of peace, health and education would b’e equal for all; where rule of law would apply same to everyone — inter-group, inter-society and inter-nationally, so that humanity can be in peace. Further Dissent is an extremely important part of true democracy. It is crucial as a means to maintain equilibrium within society. Without dissent, progress is difficult and it is complicated for people to judge what is happening in their nation and with the government that they elected. A number of factors including family values inculcated at home, education, beliefs and social environment are relevant for a healthy and vibrant democracy
Fault lines in democracy. Moises Naim is a Venezuelan journalist. Naim has a very interesting analysis of various so-called democratic countries which are gradually transforming into autocracies because of democratically elected populist leaders who consider themselves above the law.
Reason (1), is populism which more often than not creates wrong notions in the mind of a leader who becomes self-righteous, egoistic and disdainful of law and constitution. Such leaders discard collective wisdom, look down upon political opponents and present themselves as indispensable.
Reason (2) disregards parliamentary values and ignores traditional parliamentary ethics is the dependence of a populist leader on blatant lies. This includes giving false hope to people, and making promises to achieve unattainable objectives. This confuses the general public which is unable to differentiate between the truth and a lie. This is how democracy starts sleepwalking towards autocracy, especially when populism of a leader transforms into a cult. The leader then starts thinking that s/he perhaps is the only politician on the domestic political landscape who can solve all issues without creating a national consensus.
Reason (3), They propagate lies that become articles of faith among their followers. They sell themselves as noble and pure champions of the people, fighting against corrupt and greedy elite
Reason (4), Blatant lies, fake news and poisonous propaganda on social media has further compounded the situation. As a result, unfortunately democracy is losing the fight.
Pakistan approach to democracy. Pakistan now is 75 years old but it stands in the category of hybrid democracy. its democracy is nascent because half of the time, authoritarian regimes have been ruling the country, therefore, the democratic government have not yet fully crossed what is called ‘strategic democracy’, meaning thereby that our elections are generally viewed with suspicion by the losing side. and it will certainly take time, with strengthening of parties, institutions and organizations, to develop the practical aspects of democracy, and the overall democratic mindset.
Pakistan’s destiny and future lies with democracy and for this we need tolerance, harmony,inclusion and pluralism.But there are impediments to democracy in Pakistan. A misplaced focus on faith has fostered extremism and hindered openness and tolerance. Feudal dominance has inhibited education, gender equality, openness to modern ideas and a competitive political process. And the military’s pre-eminence has led to the dominance of security over development since beginning and has challenged civilian supremacy. This is hardly a life-supporting environment for democracy.
The absence of education and knowledge prevents a large section of the population from engaging in the democratic culture meaningfully. In Pakistan, Feudalism supported by state sponsored religious institutions created self-sustaining disparities in society by resisting modern education, women’s rights and socioeconomic emancipation. All this is hardly conducive for a democratic environment in the country; therefore, Pakistan is run under hybrid democracy. True democracy is pre requisite for political stability, economic prosperity integrity and security of a country.
Federal form of government,, empowerment of Senate, parliamentary democracy based on proportional representation, inclusion, egalitarianism, active participation, citizen centred policies, freedom of expression, free, fair and frequent elections instead of majoritarian democracy, is sine qua non for the federation of Pakistan, therefore, Pakistan must improve its democratic credentials by introducing constitutional reforms on the above lines for attaining the status of full democracy.
Sher Khan Bazai, Former Secretary Education, Balochistan Pakistan. The writer can be reached at [email protected]