Monday 18 December 2017

Government by the people can bring its own dangers

Brendan Keenan

Brendan Keenan

IT sounds like the worst kind of upper-class snobbery and condescension: British prime minister Stanley Baldwin's comment that the challenge was not so much making the world safe for democracy, but the more difficult one of making democracy safe for the world.

Baldwin's motives are indeed suspect. Like many of his political persuasion in the 1920s, he did not like the vote being extended to working-class men, or to women below the age of 30. A different era, and of no relevance to us, one might say.

Or is it? Looking around today, any remaining Baldwinites could be tempted to respond, "Told you so." There is the eruption of the most unlikely of US presidential candidates in Donald Trump; the possibility of Brexit after the referendum in the UK; and the actual result of the Dutch referendum rejecting an EU trade deal with Ukraine, with unknown consequences for Ukraine'e chances of becoming a "normal" European democracy.

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