The Quality of Democracy, new project of the Club de Madrid

The “Quality of Democracy” is one of the new concerns that has entered into society and Club de Madrid shares it. Because of this concern the organization has initiated the project “Quality of Democracy” with the objective of contributing to the actual debate about the state and the health of the democracy through the experience of its members, ex-prime ministers and ex-heads of state elected democratically from all over the world. It also will rely upon the contributions of political leaders, experts and academics and representatives from civil society and the private sector.

The last couple years have produced setbacks in the quality of many democracies, including established ones, with the loss of confidence and lack of legitimacy in institutions and mechanisms. In this setting of change and volatility our societies need to make adjustments and include reforming democracy so that what follows is the best system of government possible.

The Club de Madrid, an institution that has been working for 12 years to strengthen democracy all over the world, has begun to work on the project “Quality of Democracy” with two objectives:

  • Identify and analyze the challenges that all democracies face at a regional level as much as a global level.
  • Publish a “White Book” with political recommendations in regards to the quality of democracy that will be shared with political organizations, organizations, corporations, and responsible politicians.

To achieve these goals six regional meetings will be organized (Africa, Pacific Asia, North America, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East and North of Africa), with duration of a day and half with the participation of at least five members of the organization such as democratic experts, political leaders, representatives from civil society and from the private sector.

The project “Quality of Democracy” tries to be an answer to the process of global reconfiguration that democracies are living, a process that affects a large part of the academic knowledge and daily functioning of democratic institutions. Some causes of the decrease in citizen confidence in the institutions are the weakness of political leadership, the corruption, the feeling of loss of sovereignty regarding domestic issues, the slipping of the power of decision from the confines of political economy, an insufficient internal democracy, setbacks in freedom of expression (particularly in the media) and in the inability of the existing institutions to demonstrate their effectiveness.

In 2012 the world included 79 democracies, complete or imperfect, that wants to say that half the population lives in a democracy. However, the last few years have produced significant challenges en certain aspects of the quality of democracy. This way, the number of voters are falling which causes doubt in the capability of representative institutions. In addition, the citizens are finding new means of expression and participation beyond the established institutions. All of this contributes to increasing the rift between representatives and their constituents while some populist groups and those close to the anti-politics movement are active in social media and attract many young people.

The lack of transparency, the feeling that electoral programs are not fulfilling their duties and that powerful financial groups that operate without control are setting the agenda undermine the citizens’ confidence in politicians, parties and governments.

As a result, the project of Club de Madrid “Quality of Democracy” will ask what all these challenges mean when it comes time to rethink the future social contract; which stages are emerging in the political arena; what ideas can fill the void that old forms of political practice are leaving, what institutional reforms are necessary; what is at stake for democracies in different parts of the work and definitively, how should democracy evolve in order to be more effective, closer to its own values and be capable of maintaining the commitment and confidence of its citizens.