Democracy has failed, and I will explain why!
I would guess that a large part of the population is quite happy with being able to choose a political party every four years. After all, there are many countries that do not have this option or where elections are unfairly rigged. But is this really democracy? I certainly don't think so!
From the Swedish Parliament's website you can read that democracy is 1) regular elections 2) that all people are equally worthy and should have the same rights 3) you can think what you want and have the opportunity to express your views openly in speech or writing 4) national referendums. But before I go any further, I wonder if points 2 and 3 are human rights conditions necessary for democracy and not democracy in itself, and if democracy is probably about much more than point 1 and 4! Perhaps I should mention that Sweden has only had two national referendums. Then only point 1 remains in reality!
Let's reflect on what democracy should encompass. Normally, democracy is seen as a cycle of law, justice, administration, citizens, and governance in a constant loop. The individual's citizenship in society is defined by a set of rights and obligations. The citizen participates in the governance of the state through free opinion and the right to vote and other forms of participation. The legislative power is exercised by the elected Parliament. The government governs the country and is accountable to Parliament. Government is also implemented through local self-government. The administration of justice is the responsibility of independent courts. The executive branch includes state and municipal administrative authorities. This chain of tasks and responsibilities forms a cycle in which the individual citizen is both sender and recipient. The citizen is the meeting point between the inflow and outflow of the public system. In the role of stakeholder, member of a group and a demand-maker, the citizen can through advocacy and political participation influence the direction of policy. In the role of legal subject the citizen is subject to the decisions taken collectively. When the citizen combines these two roles, an opportunity is created to look at the private situation in a broader perspective. The cycle of democracy thus contributes to society's self-awareness and makes it possible to take public decisions that are perceived as legitimate by the members of society.
The above passage, taken from Olof Petersson's book "Our Democracy" (2009), opens up a much deeper perspective on democracy in which the individual is an important cog as an opinion leader and participant in various political processes. This implies that citizens must be knowledgeable, critical and active, and have many opportunities to exercise opinion-forming and political engagement.
Are these criteria met in Sweden? Hardly, in my opinion! Citizens are neither knowledgeable, critical nor active. Let us clarify this statement. In a world that has become increasingly complex, it is very difficult to keep up with, among others, political, technological, legal and economic developments, and it is also very difficult to understand how political issues affect society as a whole. This is exacerbated by the fact that citizens are not regularly invited to well-planned and educational lectures and dialogues or otherwise encouraged to educate themselves. Nor are citizens trained to be critical and active. Many times political parties are top-down where political activists are assumed to be supportive, not questioning.
This means that the core of democracy does not exist. It means that Sweden is governed by other power factors, such as officials, companies and party leaders. Why is this a problem? Mainly because it is easy to manipulate citizens who do not understand political issues and the consequences of solutions. Other important reasons are that:
- big business has huge resources to lobby
- most politicians focus on re-election to keep their job and power position instead of the good of society (no matter what they claim)
- politicians, civil servants and managers are often well educated and specialized, which favors their social class and their specialty, without understanding the overall consequences
- meritocracy creates a hierarchical society where diversity is not heard
- citizens are unable to act wisely because they do not understand the political issues or feel involved
- top-down government combined with heavy lobbying stimulates corruption
- radical change becomes difficult to implement because populist parties easily pick up votes
- the system stimulates political careers without real-life work experience
- the trust and legitimacy of the political system is eroded
The above arguments are not easy to dismiss because they seriously undermine a democracy. In reality, unfortunately, this is how almost all democracies work. It looks reasonable on the surface but is a total failure on deeper analysis. What can we learn? Well, that the whole population needs to be MUCH more involved in the governance of society and that MUCH more time needs to be devoted to education, dialogue and personal development to facilitate real democracy. This should not be seen as a burden on the economy but as a very profitable investment from multiple aspects.