Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Unhappy Russians nostalgic for Soviet-style rule

A quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet Union, life satisfaction in Russia and other ex-Soviet states remains stubbornly low, with enthusiasm wavering for democracy and open market economics, according to a survey.

The study found that only 15% of Russians think their households have a better quality of life, compared with 30% in 2010 when respondents were last asked, and only 9% see their finances as better than four years ago.

Just over half the respondents from former Soviet states also thought a return to a more authoritarian system would be a plus in some circumstances, said the findings from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank said.

The EBRD, created 25 years ago to invest in former communist countries, questioned households across ex-Soviet bloc for more than a decade for its “Life in Transition” project, polling 51,000 households in 34 countries from Estonia to Mongolia.

They did find the “happiness gap” with western Europe had narrowed, thanks to improvements in central Asia, the Baltic states and central Europe, but also because of less satisfaction in parts of Europe, including Germany and Italy.

The findings resonated with increasing evidence in 2016 – ranging from Britain’s vote to quit the European Union and Donald Trump’s US election win – of dissatifaction with some of the effects of globalisation.

The EBRD chief economist Sergei Guriev said the study also showed countries could only successfully transition from command economies to more open-market systems if that process was “perceived by the public as being fair and of benefit to the majority”.

“If the public does not see the benefits of the reforms they will ultimately not be successful,” he said.

Guriev said one of the biggest factors in people’s lower life satisfaction was losing their jobs. Governments therefore needed to make sure workers learned new skills, he said.

He also said the the survey showed people’s appreciation of democracy and open market economics was wavering.

“Right now in most of our countries the majority doesn’t seem to prefer democracy over authoritarian rule, whereas in Germany 80% do,” Guriev said.

“That raises big, big questions. What has gone wrong and what should be done?”

Original Article
Author: Reuters in London

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