Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A different kind of democracy

Renaissance Virtues has a great piece on Hugo Chavez and the recent vote in Venezuala:

"The reason some accuse Chavez of being authoritarian is because they see democracy in a sort of Thomas Jefferson checks and balances sort of way - they don't like the dominance of executive and legislature by one party, they oppose any reduction in the power of the judiciary etc etc. It's true the Chavez model is not a Jefforsonian one - politics by horizontal negotiation, veto points that mean decision-making is slow and difficult, often to stop majorities getting their way. There is much to be said for this anti-majoritarian impulse.

But thats not the only model of democracy - there is another which is basically a popular rule model, government by the elected majority, accompanied in Venezuela to an unprecedented degree by government by plebiscite. This model is democractic too - its just a different kind of democracy, one which also has its appeals. What the defeat on Sunday showed was that, contrary to what its critics have claimed, this model too has some checks and balances - the check is the majority, that can constrain the president, force him to re-think.

In doing so, I think this defeat may do the Bolivarian revolution a world of good."

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