The case for democratic renewal



Nearly every indicator of a healthy Western democracy is failing globally. Public trust and voter engagement have declined over the past decade in established, core democracies around the world, including in the US, Europe and Australia, notes Mark Triffitt of the University of Melbourne:

The percentage of Americans who say they “can trust the government always or most of the time” has been below 30% since 2007. A similar pattern of mistrust can be found in many democracies across Europe, as well. Young people, in particular, are detaching themselves in droves from active and passive participation in the formal democratic system. As democracy’s popularity decreases, support for alternatives, such as polarised and extreme politics and “strongman” governance, continues to rise.

21st Forum 2000 Conference

We need to reinvigorate democracy to meet the expectations of citizens as to how 21st-century democracy should engage and perform, he writes for the Conversation:

A few years ago, the idea of citizen juries to advise parliaments, diversified political representation, and stronger checks and balances on partisan politics would have struggled to gain public support. Now, amid growing public recognition that our current configuration of democracy is not working, they are seen as imperative reforms by voters themselves.

“Without urgent and strategic democratic renewal, there is the danger that soon there will be little left on which to rebuild,” Triffitt concludes.

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