Unelected UK leaders make a mockery of global posturing about ‘democracy’

Ed Sykes

By moving to suspend parliament, the UK’s unelected prime minister Boris Johnson is making a mockery of the country’s global posturing about ‘democracy’.

One journalist summed this up perfectly, saying:

 

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British ‘democracy’?

Indeed, Boris Johnson’s coup highlights just how undemocratic the UK’s system is. And numerous commentators have tweeted to that effect:

The Canary has long reported on Britain’s desperate need for electoral reform, particularly on the fight to change the anti-democratic ‘first-past-the-post’ voting system. The unelected House of Lords and monarchy also come to mind.

But Boris Johnson was never going to be the politician to bring change. Because he’s one of many politicians with a terrible track record on supporting democracy – both at home and abroad. He has been all but silent, for example, about the ongoing descent into authoritarianism of major NATO ally Turkey – and in particular its alleged war crimes against the Kurdish people. There’s also his (and his party’s) close relationship with the brutal and extremist dictatorship of Saudi Arabia. And the list goes on and on.

The UK’s global posturing about ‘democracy’ is bull

As Ahmed Kaballo pointed out in his tweet, Venezuela has been just one of the targets for British posturing about democracy abroad. Following presidential elections in the country in 2018, for example, Johnson (then UK foreign secretary) alleged that the process had “further eroded Venezuelan democracy” and was “deeply flawed”. International election observers on the ground disagreed. But Johnson still used his claim as a basis to make the case for sanctions.

Venezuela’s government didn’t stop the opposition from voting in 2018. Most of the opposition simply chose not to participate. And out of over 20.5 million registered voters, only 6.2 million voted to re-elect President Nicolás Maduro. That means only 30% of Venezuelans decided to go out and vote for him. Hardly the kind of victory you’d expect from a ‘sham’ election. The low turnout (around 46%), however, gave fuel to an intensifying media bombardment which paved the way for the US-led coup attempt that began at the start of 2019. This followed on from almost two decades of Western hostility to the increasing independence and social reforms of Venezuela’s elected left-of-centre government.

The 2018 vote in Venezuela, meanwhile, actually reflected the ‘democratic’ norm in many countries around the world. For example:

  • In the 2017 UK elections, only 13.7 million of over 46.8 million eligible voters opted for Theresa May’s Conservative Party. That’s only 29%.
  • In the US elections of 2016, only 61.2 million of 227 million eligible voters wanted Donald Trump as their next president. That’s about 27%.

And the list goes on. Yet there’s little uproar about the democratic deficit in these countries.

Hopefully, though, Boris Johnson’s current assault on Britain’s fragile democracy will encourage much more debate about just what kind of democracy we want going forward.

Featured image via Bloomberg/YouTube

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    1. One of the Twitterati mentioned the monarch’s residual powers being vested in the prime minister.

      That is partially the picture but not its entirety. Real power, our ‘deep state’, resides within a self-perpetuating inner cabal of the Privy Council. This cabal exercises residual royal prerogatives in the monarch’s name; modern monarchs cannot object because their tenure in office depends upon good will of the ‘deep state’; put another way, the institution of monarchy has nothing to do with ‘Divine right’ and everything to do with long ago historical compromises enabling powers in the land (e.g. barons) to apportion authority through vesting its origin in a monarch; thereby, with everyone playing by the rules it was unnecessary to dissipate resources though fighting for top-dog position; some monarchs were not up to measure and disposed of.

      The Privy Council cabal, rather than parliament, decides truly important matters pertinent to sustaining wealth and influence of cabal members and of the wider ‘establishment’ which provides tacit support. The most important matter is foreign policy.

      Thus far, the House of Commons has dismally failed in asserting primacy by wresting power from the kakistocracy. Oliver Cromwell made sterling effort but upon his demise nincompoops scrambled to set ‘Nanny’ back on the throne. Only later, in modern times, did France grasp what republicanism meant; even the French lapsed back into flirtations with monarchy.

      Settlers in America took the lessons to heart. Unfortunately, they discarded European culture and have never grasped the meaning of noblesse oblige. Nowadays, that sad nation exemplifies the fact that neither being a republic nor embracing so-called ‘democracy’ guarantees civil harmony.

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