How the Democracy Disconnect Plays Out in North America



The Retreat from Citizenship in the United States and Canada
German Marshall Fund of the United States


The author examines two of the world’s most established democracies – the United States and Canada – through the lens of democratic disconnect.

It says the United States is particularly characterised by voter apathy and low voter turnout due to a range of factors, notably what are sometimes very high barriers to voting and registration, as well as electoral gerrymandering.

In Canada, the author argues that the situation is not as severe, but in recent years there has been marked increase of signs of citizen disconnect.

He cites as evidence that until 1993, voter turnout in federal elections was more than 70% percent, but that by 2008 turnout had fallen to 58.8%.

The article states that what amounts to a 'retreat from citizenship' in both the US and Canada is a self-perpetuating cycle which is not only the result of an eroding democracy but accelerates the erosion of democratic practice and culture.

Thumbnail image: Toronto rally. Source: Tania Liu/Flickr

David Cameron

Transatlantic Academy

Published Date
May 2, 2013