OPINION | Democracy can fail anywhere, even in America


OPINION | Democracy can fail anywhere, even in America

The US could also learn some lesson from its own faltering efforts at ‘democracy promotion’ abroad

Gideon Rachman

The US has long rejoiced in the title “leader of the free world”. The American presidential election was the ultimate example of democracy in action. But we are about to witness an election period like no other. People around the world will be acutely attuned not just to the vote tally, but to any sign that the results are going to be contested in the courts or on the streets.

The failure of democracy is something most Americans thought happened only in foreign lands, but democracies can fail anywhere. Painful lessons learnt from the nation’s own faltering efforts at “democracy promotion” abroad could also apply in the US.

One common idea is that democracy is about more than voting. If election results are not to be undermined or overturned, democracy also requires a free media, a strong civil service, independent courts, a secure constitutional framework and — perhaps most important of all — a democratic culture in which the election losers will accept defeat...

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