¹ 6 - 2014
Lane D.

Mirage of Democracy

With the fall of the USSR, the virtues of ‘liberal democracy’ have become major claims of Western hegemonic nations. A democratic status is necessary for states to be considered a legitimate component of the modern world. Building democracy is the counterpart to the move to the market and private ownership in the transformation of the state socialist societies. However, though there is general approval of things democratic, its nature is subject to wide and often contradictory meaning. Of one thing we can be clear; there is no single thing called democracy. In this chapter I consider the different meanings given to ‘democracy’. The main approach considered is that of electoral democracy. A second objective is to examine the performance of electoral democracies in promoting human well-being. Here I consider studies measuring the relationship between democracy, on the one hand, and economic growth, equality, happiness and peace, on the other. It is concluded that, in terms of social and economic outputs, there does not appear to be an overwhelming case to prioritise electoral democracy as a political objective. The strength of electoral democracy lies in promoting processes of accountability and types of political order. As far as promoting economic growth, happiness, equality and peace, it sometimes promotes them but sometimes not.