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I grew pessimistic about democracy in 2018.

It's not my own modest participation that's discouraging me : clearly, Diem25 and European Spring are not gaining traction fast enough to make a real difference in 2019 -- but that's much as I expected.

It's more the crisis of representative democracy as a whole. It turns out to be one of those things that only works when the economy is booming and most people have at least realistic prospects of a bigger share of a growing cake.

And it's the Gilets Jaunes thing which has obliged me to face the unpalatable reality : both political parties and voters have grown extremely cynical about parliamentary democracy. In France, as in so many other places, the "government left" has discredited not only itself, but the very idea of the left; the "government right" has been rendered irrelevant by the right-wing radicality of the supposedly centrist government; and the government itself is now highly unpopular.

The fact that a new political movement captured both the presidency and Parliament within a few months of its creation has contributed powerfully to this disillusion with democracy. At first look, it might appear encouraging : democracy works, real change is possible... but by now everyone realises that it was a combination of palace coup and marketing campaign, and feels cheated and bitter.

In short, France is the new Italy. Or perhaps more accurately, the new Czechia or Romania.

So now, the latest fashionable thing is the "popular initiative referendum" : replacing representative democracy with direct democracy. One is instinctively reticent, one fears that demagogues will manipulate the people in random directions... and one realises that arguing against it is effectively arguing against democracy itself. The People are not mature enough to vote laws? Visibly, they are not mature enough to elect a government either...

Dangerous times, I find my habitual optimism is severely shaken.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Dec 28th, 2018 at 05:17:23 PM EST

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