Monday, 31 December 2007

Fragile democracy

Particularly with the news this week from Pakistan and Kenya, I've been thinking about how fragile democracy or good governance is. Repression in Burma continues, Zimbabwe remains on the critical list and news from Iraq, Afghanistan or Darfur is hardly heartening.
For me something began to go wrong with perceptions about democracy when the voting irregularities in Florida during the US presidential elections in 2000 were not properly resolved or challenged. How to raise any real sense of concern about the current situation in Kenya when people can just shrug and say "well look at Florida". The war on Iraq having been waged on a supposedly pro-democracy ticket doesn't help cynicism about the democratic process either.
Countries need not only good political structures but also strong political cultures to support reputable local and national governance. Part of that culture is about building consensus but part of it is also about having a strong opposition and real space for debate within society.