Liberal democracy and the West
One could easily question whether certain Western countries are truly democratic.
Democracy is a system of government by the whole population, that typically relies on elected representatives. The West supports and propagates this idea of liberal democracy and champions this form of government as the finest form which exists. One must consider why the West seeks to spread this form of government and whether in fact, this form of government is indeed the most superior.
The West not only champions liberal democracy, but it also seeks to establish this form of government in different areas of the world. The countries selected are usually under the control of some form of authoritarian leader/dictator. The US, in particular, promoted and funded the overthrow of the government in Ukraine in 2014. It did this through the funding of opposition parties in order to strengthen its democratic institutions. However, this regime change was not only contrived for Ukraine, it was also used in Iraq and Libya. Whereby, the West used foreign interventions as a method to overthrow totalitarian leaders and establish their own version of democracy. However, unfortunately, these regime changes have not worked out exactly as the West predicted. Following the other throw of Gaddafi, Libya continues to be in civil war until this day. Similarly, Iraq has been blighted by civil war and conflict since the invasion in 2003.
The West evidently regards any form of government other than the liberal democratic system as inferior. Yet, we know from history that democracy does not work in every country, due to the differing cultural, religious and economic factors at play. What I perceive as essential for a country is the safety of its citizens. Yet both Iraq and Libya were considered safe countries before their leaders (Saddam and Gaddafi) were removed. Sadly, they are no longer considered to be safe now, with tensions between rival religious factions causing turmoil in both regions.
The West’s main criticism of communism is the fear that it will spread with the goal of establishing a worldwide stateless society. Yet, the West is trying to spread the principle of democracy globally in a similar fashion: having no regard for the needs of individual countries. Currently, the West seems obsessed with the political regimes in China and Russia. Regimes in both countries are seen as authoritarian and oppressive. However, the culture and history as well as the scale of the population in each country is vastly different than countries in the West. Both China and Russia have managed to economically develop their country and enhance the prosperity and safety of their citizens which are admiral objectives to achieve.
One must also consider what the concept of Democracy actually means. According to some democracies, the notion exists if the grievances and the desires of the populations are somehow met: democracy will therefore exist in a collective form. In a country such as Russia, the focus is on stabilization, law and order at first. The purpose of a government originates from the need to protect its people from conflicts and to preserve law and order in society. The preamble of the US constitution for instance states that the purpose of the government is to insure domestic tranquillity, establish justice, provide common defense, etc. If countries such as Russia and China are able to satisfy such essential functions, then arguably they have a legitimate basis for ruling over and representing their population: Just as arguably Saddam and Gaddafi provided law, order and stability for their populations, prior to their regimes being overthrown by the West.
One could even question whether certain Western countries are truly democratic. In the UK for example, the voting system used to elect MP’s is First past the post, which means the MP with the most votes wins. Yet, technically speaking an MP for a particular party could win even though more members of the electorate voted against him/ her than in favour. Moreover, one could add that since the Labour and Conservative party’s policies are so aligned currently the British electorate does not have a real choice at election time. Furthermore, in the UK Liz Truss has recently been elected as the new Prime Minister, however, she was not voted in by members of the public. Her election was based on votes from Conservative party members and therefore it cannot be argued that her success has been based on support from the British population. In contrast, President Putin enjoys support from a significant number of the electorate in Russia, he has always enjoyed consistently high approval ratings, his highest approval rating being 88% in October 2014 and lowest being around 59%. Of course, critics would argue that opposition leaders are not given the freedom to challenge him as a leader. However, the same principle could be applied to opposition parties in the UK that may not have concentrated support in single constituencies, but rather diluted support across the nation which would render them unable to accumulate enough votes in constituencies to be elected.
One must further consider the fact that the West’s interpretation of liberal democracy may not actually be beneficial for its population as a whole. It is widely accepted in the UK, for instance, that crime levels have been increasing over the past number of years. Despite Covid, and according to the Office of National Statistics, fraud and computer offenses have substantially increased over the past two years. Moreover, violence and sexual offenses have exceeded pre-pandemic levels. If the government is failing to safeguard and protect its citizens, which is the essential purpose of a government, perhaps it is now time for the West to rethink its commitment to Liberal democracy.