Milestone for Democracy
With over four billion people, which is more than half of the world’s population, eligible to cast their votes to choose their leaders across over 40 countries, it won’t be wrong to dub 2024 as democracy’s biggest year and a milestone in human history. The democratic festival began last week with Taiwan electing Lai Ching-te from the incumbent pro-sovereignty Democratic Progressive Party as its president. Countries that will go to the polls in the months to come include India, Russia, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, the United States and several others from Europe and Africa. While it can be seen as an achievement for democracy, which is considered as the most preferred form of government, it is also going to be a big test for democratic ideals. With two major wars currently raging and inter-nation conflicts threatening to escalate into full-fledged wars, even as internal issues are continuing to disrupt the normal life of citizens in several countries, the outcome of the upcoming elections will have a huge impact on the world and not just the nations going to polls. The results may be predictable in case of some countries like Russia, where the incumbent rulers are known for making the situation almost impossible for the opposition to win, but still not irrelevant as the victory margin can serve as a pointer to their popularity as well as their policies. All eyes will also be on the electoral outcome of some African countries where the elected governments were overthrown by military coups in the recent past.
This doesn’t mean all is well with the rest of the countries, and the US that claims to be the “beacon of democracy” is no exception. The world has been witnessing a steady rise in far-right groups, identity politics, nationalism and political polarisation of late, including in the West. It won’t be surprising if political parties and individuals with such far right-leaning are voted to power in the elections to be held this year. In case of such a scenario, democratic system can come under threat and the tables could turn. It is also an undeniable fact that more countries have embraced democracy over the last few decades, while some, including Myanmar, are still fighting for it. Despite democratic form of government still enjoying popular support, cracks seen in advanced democracies, amid the rise of China as an economic powerhouse, is certainly not a positive sign. The outcome of the upcoming polls, if in favour of right-wing groups, can further change the political narrative about the ideal form of government. It also has the potential to change the world order. This year is crucial for democracy as four billion people will put it to test.