As we say goodbye to 2016, Israel are annoyed by America’s refusal to veto a UN resolution. They say that as the region’s only democracy, they should receive greater support from the world’s leading democracy. Theresa May has jumped in, criticising John Kerry over his comments on the make up of a democratically elected government. It’s been the year of Brexit and Trump, and is finishing with Russian diplomats being expelled as Russia is accused of interfering with the American democratic process.
There was an element of farce. Israel wanted support as a democracy by the US using the not-so-democratic act of a veto! But how democratic is the State of Israel? How democratic is it to carefully control the political landscape of your country? Is it democratic to use force to remove people from their homes based on their ethnicity?
As long as there is a vote
Israel have persistently and continuously looked to change the facts on the ground. In constructing carefully planned settlements, in direct contravention to UN resolutions, they are ensuring that democracy always works in their favour. But that’s ok, as long as there is a vote at the end of it, we can call it democracy.
In Turkey, the state of emergency following July’s attempted coup continues. Of course, this state of emergency is in place to uphold democracy. The purge against any supporters of Gülen continues. Thousands of people have been dismissed with no recourse to appeal. They are unable to find other employment or leave the country. Nearly six months later, no evidence has been published to support the theory that Gülen was behind the coup. Is it that the evidence the government has gained suggests it wasn’t Gülen?
Early in his political career, President Erdoğan was once quoted as saying that democracy is a tram that you get off once you have reached your destination. I doubt the state of emergency in Turkey will be lifted in mid-Jan, as originally scheduled. It will only be lifted once Erdoğan is certain that democracy will work in his favour.
This strong arming democracy is not new. The post-Soviet republics of Central Asia were quite used to their new presidents (all ex-Soviet leaders) winning elections with over 95% of the vote. Likewise Putin (the man Trump so admires) also operates within a carefully controlled democracy. Authoritarian regimes that orchestrate ‘the will of the ‘majority’ are not democratic – even if they use the word democracy.
Oxford dictionaries declared ‘post-truth’ as the international word of the year – an adjective “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.
Maybe we should coin a new phrase – ‘post-democracy’ – relating to or denoting circumstances in which the appearance of democracy is paramount, but is redefined to support any personal belief’.
It is alleged that Putin and the Russians tried to orchestrate the will of the majority in the American elections. Interesting that while Obama and Congress strongly object, Trump is ok with it. It seems that his philosophy is similar, in that it doesn’t matter what happens. As long as there is a vote at the end of it, we can call it democracy.
As Trump admires Putin, our very own Nigel admires Trump. One of the defining moments of 2016 was Nigel Farage, less than a few hours after the Brexit vote was declared, saying on live national TV that the slogan claiming £350 million weekly EU charge was a mistake. It was not true. During the campaign I was left open mouthed as big sections of the press reported on Turkey’s membership of the EU being imminent. Again a brazen untruth – but that’s ok, as long as there is a vote at the end of it we can call it democracy. It’s ok to orchestrate the will of the majority – Putin, Erdoğan, Netanyahu, Trump and Farage lead the way. 2016 – the year of post-democracy.