Democracy Under Threat from Falling Voter Turnouts



Revolting Voters - Democracy is Under Threat: Time to Reform It
The Economist


The article highlights falling voter turnouts in many Western democracies and argues the problem of citizen disengagement with democracy has worsened as a result of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and its aftermath.

It argues that post-GFC austerity programs, together with a perception among voters that major parties are unable to come up with innovative policy solutions to create more prosperity, are behind the decline in voter trust in democracy and distemper with major parties and their elected representatives.

The result is also an increase in support for extremist political parties offering popularist policy-fixes as well as a decline in bipartisanship which has increased policy inertia and gridlock.

The article concludes that reform of democracy is essential to restore its fortunes. It suggests changes to campaign finance rules to reduce the influence of special interests, as well as giving parliaments special powers to ask voters directly what they think, through referenda, on particular issues.


Thumbnail image: Derek Bridges/Flickr

Philip Coggan

The Economist

Published Date
November 18, 2013