A very close friend recently mused ‘is democracy in terminal decline or just past its prime?’. It is a sad, but all too apt and well-phrased reflection.
It followed the election of Rodrigo “The Punisher” Duterte as President-elect of the Philippines. A candidate about whom the best the Guardian could say was “bigoted, loud-mouthed, misogynist, populist” appears to have received 39% of the popular vote in, effectively, a five-candidate race. His success is said to be based largely on his zero-tolerance of crime and disorder in the city of Davao where he has been Mayor for 22 years, and his alleged complicity in hundreds of extra-judicial killings to enforce his intolerance.
Talking of ‘bigoted, loud-mouthed, misogynist, populists’ brings to mind Donald Trump – the almost certain standard-bearer of the Republican Party at the impending US presidential election. Meanwhile, in Brazil, of the five presidents elected since the end of military dictatorship in 1985, only two have completed their terms in office – one having died before inauguration, and the other two (including the present Dilma Rousseff) having been removed by impeachment. And, notwithstanding the narrowest of defeats, Austria has just had a presidential election dead heat between the Far Right, anti-immigrant, gun-toting Norbert Hofer (with 49.7% of the vote), and the ex-Green Party leader uniting the remnants of the centre with left wing votes.
All of which serves as an hors d’oeuvres for the current fiascos in the UK.