I read this in the French magazine le Point. It bemoans the existence of “electoral dictatorships”. or electoral autocracies. Like Hungary, Thailand and Turkey.
Le vent a tourné, et même des démocraties qui semblèrent prometteuses au tournant du siècle comme l’Inde, la Thaïlande, la Turquie ou la Hongrie sont retombées dans des ornières autoritaires. Ces pays illustrent le phénomène des « autocraties électorales », aussi appelées « démocratures », qui constituent un trait marquant de notre époque. Selon V-Dem, ces régimes sont devenus des plus courants, avec quelque 44 % de la population mondiale. Leurs dirigeants, arrivés au pouvoir par la voie électorale, subvertissent la démocratie en détruisant les contre-pouvoirs et restreignent les libertés. L’indépendance de la justice et la liberté d’expression disparaissent peu à peu, l’opposition démocratique et la société civile sont marginalisées, mais les apparences électorales restent plus ou moins maintenues, ce qui permet de sauvegarder l’illusion d’une démocratie. La Turquie ou la Hongrie sont des cas d’école.
I cannot speak for Thailand or for Turkey. By contrast, I have been in Hungary several times in the past decade. The place is safe. I have seen with my own eyes women in full hijab walking around as tourists unmolested and visibly free. I have heard reported by observant Jews that they are able to go to synagogue on Friday night in yarmulke in complete ease, unlike almost every other place on Europe.
I have heard reports of retirees deciding to live in Hungary because it is safe – crime-free, rather than in Germany, where doors are barred, not just locked.
Obviously none of such reports will satisfy the haters of Orban.
If you don’t have safety, you don’t have anything. Is Orban’s Hungary worse than a New York city controlled by the Democratic party, where you cant use the subway safely? Where crime forces you indoors? Where garbage pile up in the streets, and drug addicts shit where they want, as in San Francisco and Los Angeles?
What are these places, if not electoral dictatorships of the Democratic Party, where irremovable party apparatuses worsen the tolerance of crime, filth, plague, chaos, and decline.
Obviously the appearance of political choice matters little if you cant leave your house in safety, and this critique applies with great force to places where crime and decay are rampant, as in many US cities controlled by the Democrats, or European cities where Muslim immigrants terrorize the civic spaces, encouraged by equally left wing policies of European governments.
So spare us the false mourning for “democracy, where the so-called democracy fails to address basic problems of personal liberty: freedom from crime, freedom from assaults by the homeless, freedom from drug dependence, freedom from Muslim anti-female violence, freedom from politically-imposed squalor and decadence.
Dictatorships come in many forms, and some of them may be elected. I suppose this is possible. But if some dictatorships are elected, and if they provide better outcomes for personal liberty of every kind, then does the term “electoral dictatorship” have any meaning whatever? And by contrast, if some regimes provide more personal security, and are led by men who keep being elected, then from what point of view are such societies and regimes failing? The freedom to criticize the regime is important, but is it more or less important than the freedom to shop, walk, gather in public and go to religious services in manifest peace and ease?
Defenders of democracy need to consider the basic facts of physical existence – felt sense of security – when they rank which countries are freer than others, which are dictatorships and which are not.
Are people actually freer in France or Germany than in Hungary? Or Japan for that matter?