The story of democracy in the last century was claiming the right to rule for majorities from unrepresentative elites. The form varied — seizing independence from colonial empires under the rallying cry of national self-determination; overthrowing dictatorships of the left and right whose governments ruled by fiat and with military force; questioning the divine right of kings to rule and replacing royal courts with parliamentary debates — but the implication was the same: the only legitimate source of power was the people.Election to powerThe success of this sea-change in popular imagination is evident in the ubiquity of elections around the world. Today a mere handful of states, clustered mainly in the Arabian Gulf, remain the only places not to use elections as the means of allocating national power. But everyone else uses elections, even when only one party is allowed to compete and no one believes the election is free or fair. The quality of these elections notwithstanding, the point of elections is simple: they are an efficient way of determining the will of the majority.Yet if establishing democracy required replacing unelected elites with the representatives of the ‘people’, then preserving democracy requires defending it against the ‘people’. Democracy requires… Read full this story
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