A democracy with winners and losers

Just like music, it’s great to hear celebrities living up to the science. Also, the entrance tickets are very affordable. So last week I sat at De Vereeniging in Nijmegen and listened to the philosopher Michael Sandel, professor of political science at Harvard University. A few hundred more fans with me.

Chantal has long been deeply concerned about declining trust in politics and democracy. He sees a rise in distrust not only in his own America, where the Capitol has been attacked, but around the world. The Netherlands is no exception, with upside-down flags and threatened politicians.

In Europe, Bosnians and Armenians are the least enthusiastic about democracy in their country Atlas of European Values. Scandinavians and Swiss consider their country democratic. It broadly corresponds to rankings that rank countries by degree of democracy. They judge factors such as how fair elections are, whether there is freedom of expression, and how freely journalists can operate.

The difference between measuring and asking

All of these factors seem to be important when looking at how residents rate democracy in their country. But they don’t explain everything. For example, according to the Freedom House ranking, not Bosnia and Herzegovina, but Azerbaijan is the European low point in democracy. At the same time the Azerbaijanis Atlas Looks very satisfied.

The oil state on the fringes of Europe was ruled by dictator Ilham Aliyev for twenty years. He was re-elected again in 2018. According to independent observers, by blatantly rigging the election. For example, the results app reported that Aliyev had a large lead the day before the elections. And anyone who dares to protest goes to jail. A more plausible explanation of satisfaction Atlas I don’t think people dare to answer such questions honestly.

Image by Bart Friso

Judge less educated people more negatively About democracy rather than the highly educated? How important do people think it is to live in a democracy? And do they deal with politics on a daily basis? See comments in Europe atlasofeuropeanvalues.eu/nl/ (choose ‘Maps’).

Freedom House’s top 10 democracies are roughly European clusters. Only New Zealand and Canada are in between. Norway, Sweden and Finland all receive solid 10s. However, Finns themselves give their democracy a score of 6.5, and in countries like France, Italy, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, people are also less interested in democracy than the ranking suggests. suspected.

Power and training

Chantal explores this significant difference. He began his story in Nijmegen with fellow philosopher John Stuart Mill from the nineteenth century. At the time, Mill advocated an electoral system in which your education would determine how much weight your vote counted. Because people with more knowledge make better choices.

“Good idea?” Chantal asked the room, which was probably full of highly educated people. Only a few saw; 99.9 percent thought it was completely undemocratic and unfair. “But,” continued Chantal, “your House of Representatives is about 95 percent highly educated. Is this a democracy?” Confusion and reluctance. The audience was ultimately split fifty-fifty. No, not desirable, but undemocratic…? The highly educated can also represent the less educated, right?

Since the 1950s and 1960s, politics and governance have been largely in the hands of the educated. A new elite, Chantal warns. He sees this as a major cause of polarization and growing mistrust. Because a society where success is reserved for the highly educated, implicitly labels others as losers.

Science journalist Marga van Zundert is one of the creators of the Atlas of European Values ​​(valuesatlas.eu) and the Atlas draws on the social science data on which the series is based. Read her here Previous paragraphs Again.

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