German Democracy Researchers Publish Ominous Report

I’ve written before about what a wonderful privilege it is to dwell within the extremely liberal and forward-thinking polity known as the Federal Republic of Germany. Here citizens like myself enjoy unusual and expansive freedoms. Our politicians positively welcome criticism, which is a good thing for me, or I might have to be an anonymous poster on the internet. As we saw yesterday, undemocratic hellholes like the DDR used to persecute their own people for the completely alien crime of “defaming the state.” It is hard to imagine such repression occurring anywhere in the hyperdemocratic West, which makes it all the more important to remember the recent authoritarian past.

In Germany we are positively drowning in liberal democracy. We have entire august foundations, like the Bertelsmann Stiftung, which exist entirely to further liberal principles and dream up new ways to enhance all things democratic. In their enthusiasm for human rights, popular sovereignty and equality before the law, the Bertelsmannians are wont to measure how democratic the rest of the world is, which is obviously a very important matter and a topic of deep concern. After all, we’ve done such a great job of perfecting democracy here at home, that it is our duty to further democrify the unenlightened cretins who inhabit the rest of the world.

Alas, in their voluminous research, the Bertelsmannians have discovered a dark patch of foul plastic waste on the otherwise serene democratic ocean. Their new study (h/t Prof. Freedom) announces that “there have been a total of 24 autocratic changes of leadership in the 137 countries surveyed since 2006.” At the same time, “only 12 countries have seen a shift towards democracy.” This leaves Team Global Democracy with a worrying score of negative one billion, because “there are now only 63 democracies with a total population of around three billion people, and 74 autocracies with with around four billion people.”

Naturally, the Bertelsmannian analysis considers only “transitional and developing countries” and “does not look at traditional Western democracies such as the USA, Germany or France.” What an utter wast of time it would be, to bother oneself with the health of democracy in such democratic bastions the United States, Germany or France. Much of the rest of the world, however, seems to be a very worrying place indeed:

In an interview with Bayerischer Rundfunk, Sabine Donner, head of the “Transformation Index” project, explained the development by saying, among other things, that there seems to be less orientation with respect to social issues. It is also due to the fact that “people are dissatisfied with governments and their performance and express this dissatisfaction. And governments then usually react.”

Governments reacting unfavourably to popular dissatisfaction? It is simply unthinkable in the Federal Republic, but the world can be a very dark place.

Instead of channelling this dissatisfaction or creating consensus on how to move into the future, governments are increasingly excluding people, says Donner. This includes, for example, restricting freedom of expression, opportunities for criticism or political opposition. Overall, according to the study, the data revealed “new lows” in the quality of democracy, government performance and economic development. Opponents of democratic structures and market-economy reforms are increasingly in power.

This sounds like hell or something. Honestly it is hard to read these words and type about them at the same time, that is how alien and disturbing I find this. Never in a million years would the Federal Republic seek to exclude popular voices from the political process, still less to restrict freedom of expression. And imagine a shining democratic beacon like Germany trying to quash opposition parties like Alternative für Deutschland. I am so glad we have the Bertelsmann Foundation, proudly founded in a country with nary a mote of authoritarianism in its hyperdemocratic political vision, to measure the beams in the eyes of unenlightened backward tyrannical states and explain to them the errors of their ways. Measure on, Bertelsmannians, measure on.

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