What our activists say on the role of Western democracies | Power to the People | DW | 13.05.2013
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Power to the People

What our activists say on the role of Western democracies

To what extent are Western countries such as the US responsible for the democratic development of other states – and how credibly do they behave? We asked our activists for their opinion.

Ukrainian journalist Tetiana Chornovol:

American democracy is suffering from its own illnesses. the “fight against terror”, has given rise to circumstances which can barely be described as democratic. Foreign policy is often aggressive, but there is no denying the contribution of the US and other Western countries to the democratic development of the world. The most important thing is that the West takes up the democratic cause, even if it often practices double standards. Foreign and domestic policies in the West might not always be really “clean”, but there is virtually nobody in the world who would want to swap the imperfect democracy in the US for the iron rule of order in North Korea.

Opposition politician Amr Badr from Egypt:

Western countries are responsible for two things: first sharing their experience through the transitional process from dictatorship to democracy; and second helping to guarantee free and fair elections by monitoring and supervising the election process.

Environment activist Quentin James from the US:

Their role is to promote democracy abroad, but to not demand it. Democracy is a form of government that works very well for the West, but cannot be extrapolated from our capitalist economy, and how the wealth of the West was attained. The US can have a credible role in promoting democracy, but we must understand, after 236 years, we are still a young nation and must give other democracies time to develop and come into their own. The key to democracy is the opportunity it gives all of its citizens to play a role in furthering their nation and accomplishing major feats. Ultimately what a democracy should also lead to is peace, and many times democracy equates to violence and war from those who are in power. So again, our role should be to promote democracy, support it where we can, but not to demand it and get in the way of it flourishing.

Greek lawyer Lila Bellou:

The mature Western democracies must strengthen democratic institutions in less developed democracies, as in some Arab, Asian and African states. This can only be achieved through their own good example and sustainable economic growth, and not with the 'surgical' establishment of satellite systems, with placement of leaders controlled by the West, nor through multinational companies and the free market. More technology, mobile phones and credit cards do not mean democracy.

Isabelle Magkoeva, Japanese teacher from Russia:

More than 20 people have been imprisoned for a year in Russia because they participated in a peaceful and legitimate protest on the evening of President Putin's inauguration. Recently a person was sentenced to four years of prison because he scratched the enamel on a policeman's teeth. Every month more and more people are arrested; each person who joins a protest has to face repercussions. The physicist Alexander Dolmatov, who was pressured by the Russian intelligence agency FSB, fled to the Netherlands to avoid being arrested. When he arrived he was taken into custody pending deportation and committed suicide. Does this answer the question?

Graphics designer Marc Masmiquel from Spanien:

Western countries have a huge influence - so great in fact that the process of globalization and standardization has destroyed diverse cultures. Western civilization so far has not respected "the Other". Under the cloak of development and wealth it has forced divergent societies to introduce economic models that are counterproductive and obsolete. The free market is the exact opposite of freedom and true democracy. Every analyst, sociologist, anthropologist or social scientist knows that responsibility for the common welfare has been trampled in the course of the last 50 years. It is time for change.

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