February 24, 2024

Balkan Travellers

Comprehensive up-to-date news coverage, aggregated from sources all over the world

2024 is the largest global election year in history.  Will democracy survive?

2024 is the largest global election year in history. Will democracy survive?

On January 1, Future Perfect published its predictions for 2024. Predictions range from how many poultry will be culled due to bird flu this year, to which film will win the Academy Award for Best Picture. (Oppenheimer (Take it to the bank.) But no single topic has been covered by more predictions than who will win some of the most important elections around the world this year.

This is because the year 2024 will be The largest election year in history. More than 60 countries representing half the world's population will go to the polls in 2024, with an estimated 4 billion people voting in presidential, legislative and local elections. These elections will range from the huge legislative elections that take several days in India (the largest in the world) to the presidential elections in Indonesia. The largest vote in the world in one day – To small North Macedonia Presidential election.

The 2024 elections will include elections that will be free and public, such as the presidential elections in Iceland, which will be held in the third most democratic country in the world. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit. Then there are countries with somewhat less free elections, such as North Korea. (North Koreans You have a choice When they go to the polls the same way my son chooses between “cereal” and “cereal” for breakfast). In the middle, most of the remaining elections will be held in 2024, including the US presidential election, where the winner wins. The popular vote has already lost elections twice out of the past six campaigns.

The stakes for democratic contests in 2024 will be enormous – not just for the countries going to the polls, but also for the world as a whole.

Democracy at the ballot box

Will Taiwan, which goes to the polls on January 13, take the risk? Increasing the possibility of war with China? Will the African National Congress, Nelson Mandela's party, finally succeed? Loss of power in post-apartheid South Africa? Will the European Parliament continue to see A The rise of far-right parties? When Donald Trump and Joe Biden face off again in the United States, as expected, will the results be different from those in 2020?

If you groaned internally when reading that sentence, let's do this Just say you're not alone. But the United States is not the only country that feels that it will not only be tax rates or foreign policy that will be on the ballot in 2024; But democracy itself. The first election of 2024, the parliamentary elections that will be held in Bangladesh on January 7, will not even participate in the main opposition party, which is Boycott the campaign Due to allegations that voting would be hacked. The two biggest elections of the year, in India and Indonesia, will be overshadowed by democratically elected leaders in these countries who have become more authoritarian in office. According to IDEA International State of Global Democracy ReportHalf of the countries saw a decline in at least one democracy indicator during the past five years.

Think of it as the paradox of democracy: While more people in 2024 will exercise the most important act in a democracy—voting—democracy itself will rarely feel more vulnerable. As well as Nobel Peace Prize laureate and investigative journalist Maria Ressa Politico said And recently: “We will know whether democracy lives or dies by the end of 2024.”

But before we write an epitaph of democracy, we should take a moment to recognize how extraordinary – and how recent – ​​it is that billions of people around the world have the opportunity to help choose their leaders.

Democracy is still in its infancy

The United States is, According to many sourcesIt is the oldest continuous democracy in the world, having been more than 200 years old. (This classification is accompanied by an asterisk, as I explain below.)

This age makes him strange. According to our world in dataOnly about half of the world's countries are electoral democracies, meaning they hold meaningful, free and fair multiparty elections. Of those countries, only 10 have been democracies for 91 years or more. Many countries have been democracies for 18 years or less.

This means that many voters who go to the polls in 2024 have spent at least some of their years under some form of authoritarianism, including in countries such as Indonesia, South Africa and Mexico, where even young people can remember a pre-democratic era. . This is how recent the experience of large-scale democracy is; He. She It wasn't until the 1990sAccording to Our World in Data, more countries were democracies of some kind than were autocracies.

Step back a little, and you realize how new any form of democratic government is. As of 1800, there were no true democracies, and less than 4% of countries were considered “electoral autocracies”—meaning that elections existed but were restricted in ways we now consider unfree. (Count the United States among them. Although it has held elections since its founding, American voting in 1800 was mostly limited to white men who owned property, and it could not become a United States until after the civil rights revolution of the 1960s.) A truly free democracy.)

Life was Bad, brutal and short For most of human history, humanity has spent most of its existence under the heel of an authoritarian regime of some sort, whether it be an emperor, a king, or a dictator. (Given that nearly half of the world's countries are autocracies of some kind, this is still the reality for billions of people.)

The idea that humans have the right to choose their leaders is much newer than many of us realize. This idea itself is far from perfect, just as democracies themselves are often far less than ideal—and given their size The democratic backsliding that is taking place todayIn both new democracies like Indonesia and old democracies like the United States, they face the risk of falling to a shorter level in the future.

But for all the justifiable anxiety about the ultimate fate of democracy in this record-breaking election year, it is worth taking a moment to appreciate how far much of the world has come. It has taken decades, even centuries, of effort to achieve the level of democracy enjoyed by billions of people around the world. Now we have to keep it – if we can.

A version of this newsletter originally appeared on The future is perfect the news. Register here!

See also  The United States and Britain launch new strikes on the Houthis in Yemen