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The Paradox of Democracy

There exists a paradox in the democratic system. After democracy surged through Asian, African, American, and European states like a reliable road freight, what is next? According to Francis Fukuyama’s declaration of the “End of History” following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, uncertainty continues to loom over Europe and the rest of the world. The liberal democratic system of government charged through the world, becoming the dominant system of government in most countries. But lately, this freight has been at the risk of being derailed.

Emerging trends and patterns

The period following the fall of Berlin saw many countries adopting the liberal democratic system of government. Fukuyama, back then, determined such trends to be signifying the emergence of liberal democracy as the dominant system of government over authoritarianism – whether the authoritarianism spoken of is fascism in the far-right or communism in the far-left. However, anyone who thinks that authoritarianism has ended is sadly mistaken. Recent trends have shown a decline in democratic indicators all over the world.

In Europe, the far-right has risen once again. Seemingly dead with the fall of Adolf Hitler, far-right political parties have either come to power again or have captured significant numbers of seats in their respective parliaments. In Germany, for instance, the Alternative fur Deutschland was able to finish as the third-ranking party in the German Bundestag, marking the first time since Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 that a far-right political party has won seats in parliament. Germany is not alone. In 2017 as well, Marine Le Pen of the Front National, a far-right political party in France, made it to the final round of the French presidential election. Not to mention, far-right parties have won seats in different European governments.

In the Middle East, democracy remains an alien concept. Turkey, which before seemed poised to be the bastion of the democratic way of life in the region, has gradually descended towards dictatorship under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Much of the region remains to be chaotic, with Syria still trapped in a nearly decade-long civil war.

All over the world, democratic institutions are undisputedly in gradual. Unlike before where authoritarianism happened through military coups, power grabs, or revolutions, the democratic recession has now begun at the polls, wherein leaders with authoritarian tendencies can muster mass support.

The way ahead

In the past, ousting authoritarian leaders had little backlashes since they came in through extraconstitutional means. Back then, revolutions, coups, and protests to oust authoritarians appeared as justified, given the gravity of their means of obtaining power. Now, however, it is a more precarious situation. There are many things to consider, most important being that authoritarians today tend to come from the ballot box and therefore enjoy more public support.

In the 21st century, combating authoritarianism will be a more tedious task compared to the past century. No longer will we be facing leaders that appear as figures of terror in their nations. Now, we will have to deal with leaders that are seen as rays of sunshine, bringing hope, and enjoying a great deal of public support from the general populace.