Saturday, 8 March 2003

Turkish managed democracy

Colby Cosh considers the same question I considered here: is a transition to full-blown liberal democracy likely to produce a stable regime. He concludes:

If it takes an army to protect my most basic liberties, I'm comfortable with that, irrespective of what the rabble thinks. Would majoritarian democracy, free of army constraints, be the best thing for Turkey? Don't ask me: I'm not a Turk. I don't think there's much question about whether it would be good for Europe (no) or for international order generally (nope).

In a more general vein, Daniel Drezner discusses “illiberal democracy” worldwide, talking about The Economist's review of Fareed Zakaria's The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad.

I can't add much to either account, although I will say that generally upholding the rule of law is much more important to preserving liberty than the mechanisms of democracy. One of the sure signs of erosion of liberty in Hong Kong has been the gradual increase in arbitrary meddling from Beijing, while the undemocratic nature of the SAR government has had relatively little to do with it (for even in a democratic Hong Kong, there would still be plenty of levers for Communist Party meddling from outside the SAR).