Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's not just our leaders who are in a crisis. Democracy itself is failing

The world's statesmen no longer shape events but merely respond to them, in thrall to market forces

The Observer, Saturday 19 November 2011

"Are the following intimations of a global crisis in the legitimacy of western democracy? Ireland's confidential budget plan, unseen by the Irish electorate, is leaked by European finance officials to the German parliament where the proposals are examined by the German finance committee.

In Italy, Mario Monti, the country's unelected new prime minister and a former international adviser to Goldman Sachs, stands in the Giustiniani Palace as head of a cabinet of similarly unelected technocrats. Imposed in place of the corrupt, useless and seedy Silvio Berlusconi to satisfy the "markets", Monti promises what we are told the markets want, and that is "sacrifices".

In Greece, both left and right of the country unite against their own technocrat, the former head of Greece's Central Bank, Lucas Papademos, brought in, too, at the behest of the markets. And in Berlin on Friday, David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative party, which could not manage to secure a mandate to govern the UK on its own, sits down with a German chancellor, Angela Merkel, whose countrymen do not trust her to handle the eurozone crisis.

If the picture of our leaders in the midst of a worldwide crisis is not a terribly inspiring one – politicians with clay feet or in hock to business interest, unelected bureaucrats and politicians lacking support – it is because western democracy itself, by and large, is not looking very pretty either......

We abrogated our engagement in the democratic process to politicians who abrogated influence to an unaccountable system as part of a pact that saw us happy as long as we were relatively comfortable. With that arrangement breaking down, we discover we have given up more than we bargained for."

No comments: