June 25, 2018

Good candidates finish last?

10 years ago I marveled at Turkish democracy. On a vacation there I saw disagreements, but all within a working democracy. The balance that founding father Atatürk seemed to continue work 70 years later.

Watching yesterday’s result on Twitter I was hit with both dejavú and sadness: the enthusiasm of the opposition after a huge rally, the contrast between the abuse of power and the hope of a fair election, the feeling of giant leap backwards for your country. All these are scenes of a movie we’d already seen in Venezuela.

How can we fight against this anti-democratic trend? Of course answer is strong institutions. But maybe institutions need a way to fight back with the same tools as authoritarians and populist?

Here’s where being democratic works against you. Giving institutions weapons to protect themselves when the people fall under the spell sounds great. But how to tell is something is a spell or a fundamental shift that needs to happen?

Autocratic leaders don’t seem to worry about this. They never asume anyone else will be back in power — and if it happens, they’re the first to call out the unfair rules which oppresses them.


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