Do we really live in a democracy?
Representative democracy is the most widespread system in free market capitalist countries. How does it fit in with the classical concept of democracy? How should direct democracy work?
Political parties hold congresses that most of the non-militant public looks at with surprise. The lines and objectives of that political party are decided at these congresses. From then on, those same politicians will try to achieve the objectives they have set themselves, always adapting to the situation of the moment and trying, above all, to safeguard the party.
This happens with all parties, whatever their colour, and partisan bunkerisation often ends up diluting the initial representative mandate of these politicians. For, the original idea of democracy today was this: a representative democracy in which voters choose politicians who have to represent their (the voters’) ideals. On paper it makes sense, but the reality is more complex. In reality, representatives are part of a cog in a wheel full of lobbying and party interests, which makes the representative ideal increasingly distant.
Historically, there have been other forms of democracy. Direct democracy, which was applied in ancient Greece and for four centuries in the Republic of Rome, is the best known, and allowed citizens to propose or revoke laws. Today, the most similar to this model are the cases of Switzerland, Liechtenstein or some US states such as California.
Is it possible, therefore, to manage public affairs in a different way? Can it be improved or, as Churchill said, do we have to settle for the least bad of all possible systems? In chapter 9 of El Diner, we review the classic concept of democracy and the main forms of government, as well as the historical evolution of the democratic model. We invite you to revisit it.
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