Is Democracy an empty word? It is a complex one but definitely not empty - it is rather full of content and essential elements, which result to be so important when you miss them. They are also the features driving sustainable social and economic development.
Subdivision of powers is the key of the democratic principles, where judicial power is independent from governments. The action of a balanced legislative bodies, liaising with the government in a mutual form of control are the basis for limited power, which could otherwise become abused. As a matter of fact, abuse is around the corner if the system in place does not prevent it.
Democracy is the respect of multiple ideas and the expression of different visions. Finding the way to preserve and stimulate different voices (through parties, movements, activists, …) is an essential part of the survival of democracy. Slowly but surely, closing the options means to become a regime. That regards also the protection of minorities, which are weaker because they are minorities.
Democracy is freedom of expression, movement, and association. And here again, only those who have all these freedoms, can think that this is “just standard”, given for granted, non-important. Freedom of movement (for example the possibility to get a visa, to register in a specific place, to live and work where needed,) and freedom of expression (not getting pressures or warnings for what one says and writes) are strongly missing in regimes. The right to associate and gather is compromised by legislation, practices, difficulties for registering association, which make it impossible really to aggregate people… and very simply, the process of decline of democracy starts. We can also mention the possibility to count on reliable and multiple media and information tools, as a key element for democracy.
Participation and interaction of citizens with institutions and elected leaders, at all level (national and local), are part of a lively democracy. Participative democracy, with ways of engaging with citizens and associations, defining together policies and programmes is fundamental. It raises the sense of responsibility among citizens and makes democracy a rich and productive dialogue between elected leaders, public administration, private sector and citizens, who do not fear the institutions.
Needless to say, elections are a key element for a true and deep democracy. Without this, the true sense of representation is not possible and we see manipulations before and during the elections, orienting with wrong information or even violence. How can we even engage with elected representative based on biased or fraud?
Democracy and human rights are interlinked, and directly connected to the protection of citizens from abuses, the respect of the rule of law, the protection of people lives, health, and freedom – for individuals, as well as for collective groups.
Are these all empty words not worth fighting? I sincerely believe that they need our full love and support. Let’s say it loud and clear. And let’s act consequently, urging the EU Member States to take their responsibility and build a good plan for our Europe in 2019.