A democracy with winners and losers

Just like with music, it’s also nice to hear famous people live in science. Moreover, admission tickets are much more affordable. So last week I sat at De Vereeniging in Nijmegen listening to philosopher Michael Sandel, professor of political science at Harvard University. And with me a few hundred other fans.

Sandel has always been deeply concerned about declining faith in politics and democracy. And he sees mistrust growing not only in his native United States, where the Capitol was stormed, but throughout the world. And the Netherlands is no exception, with overturned flags and menacing politicians.

According to European Values ​​Atlas. The Scandinavians and Swiss are likely to find their country democratic. This is largely consistent with the rankings, which rank countries according to their degree of democracy. They judge on factors such as: How fair are the elections, is there freedom of expression, and how independent is the work of journalists?

The difference between measuring and ordering

All of these factors also seem to be important when it comes to how residents rate democracy in their country. But they don’t explain everything. For example, according to the Freedom House ranking, not Bosnia and Herzegovina, but Azerbaijan is the European low point in democracy. While the Azerbaijanis were in atlas Seems completely satisfied.

The petro-state on the edge of Europe has been ruled by dictator Ilham Aliyev for twenty years. He was re-elected again in 2018. Through flagrant fraud in the elections, according to independent observers. For example, the results application reported a significant lead for Aliyev the day before the elections. Anyone who dares to protest will go to jail. A more logical explanation for Satisfaction in atlas I don’t think people dare to answer such a question honestly.

Bart Friso’s photo

Judging less educated people more negatively About the democracy of the educated? How important is it for people to live in a democracy in people’s opinion? Do they deal with politics on a daily basis? View opinions in europe about atlasofeuropeanvalues.eu/nl/ (select “Maps”).

Freedom House’s 10 largest democracies are almost a European encounter. Only New Zealand and Canada are in between. Norway, Sweden and Finland are ranked 10th. However, the Finns themselves give their democracy a 6.5 and in countries such as France, Italy, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, the population is also much less enthusiastic about democracy than the ratings indicate. suspected.

strength and training

Sandel investigates this striking difference. He began his story in Nijmegen with fellow 19th-century philosopher John Stuart Mill. At the time, Mill advocated an electoral system in which your education determined how much weight your vote had. Because those with more knowledge will make better choices.

“good idea?” Sandel asked the room, which was probably filled with highly educated people. Only a few saw it. 99.9 percent think it is undemocratic and unfair. “But,” Sandel continued, “the House of Representatives is made up of about 95 percent of highly educated people.” Is this democratic? Buzzing and hesitating. The audience eventually turned into a fifty-fifty split. No, undesirable, but undemocratic…? The higher educated can represent the less educated, right?

Since the 1950s and 1960s, politics and administration have been increasingly in the hands of highly educated people. Sandel warns of a new elite. He sees this as an important reason for the growing polarization and mistrust. Because a society in which success is limited to the highly educated indirectly classifies the rest as losers.

Science journalist Marga van Zandert is one of the creators of the Atlas of European Values ​​(valueatlas.eu) and draws on the social science data on which the atlas is based for this series. Read it here previous columns behind.

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Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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