The conditions for a society to become a democracy are analyzed

February 17, 2014

In view of the changes that have taken place in Europe,JuleGoikoetxea, a lecturer at the UPV/EHU's Faculty of Social Sciences and Communication, has been conducting research into "the conditions needed for a people to become a democracy or sustain its democratisation process over time."The study has been published in the specialised journal Nationalities Papers.

According to Goikoetxea, nation is not synonymous with demos: "The nation is the will, socially and historically articulated, that a group has in order to be a political subject.The demos refers to the way of turning that will into reality."In fact, a nation can have different political systems; it does not have to be a democracy.Nevertheless, in democratisation processes nations are turned into demoi, in other words, into human groups that govern themselves," added Goikoetxea, who did her research at the University of Cambridge where she also studied Political Science.

Having drawn the distinction between demos and nation, Goikoetxea adds that the demos has two dimensions: the objective one and the subjective one. The subjective one refers to the common identities, interests and beliefs held by the population.These beliefs, identities and interests, if they are to become common and be sustained over time, need the objective dimension of the demos, which refers to the public institutions, preferably the state ones, since "the state institutions are the objective (i.e. institutionalised) setups that wield greater political power, and let us remember that political power is a power that creates social reality, and therefore, the one able to bring about socio-economic and political equality, which is the basis of every democratisation process.

The Basque case

So for Basque democracy to be possible, the researcher regards two variables as necessary: firstly, the Basque state institutions should have enough political power to control the population, and secondly, these institutions need to be capable of carrying out the demands and priorities of Basque society.

Goikoetxea speaks of reproduction, because the process to create the Basque demos would not start from scratch; "that is why I say that it's a reproduction, although new elements always emerge in a process in which something is produced anew," she asserts. She goes on to say, "The concept of reproduction is the key component when it comes to explaining a people's survival over time and in a space. At the end of the day, the most important thing in politics is not creation but survival."

The importance of social protest in the process to create the demos is also highlighted by Goikoetxea.In her view, "a certain dynamic between Basque state institutions and Basque society is indispensable to enable a democratisation process to take place. Why? Because in democracy the institutions realize social demands, however, in order to achieve that, society must become an organised society. And an organised society is one that engages in protests by means of which the social players articulate the demands of that society. Without protests and action, society as a whole cannot articulate its demands."

On this point Goikoetxea is pessimistic with respect to the current situation of democracy in Europe. In her view, when social movements, trade unions and political parties are unable to articulate the demands of society, it is the lobbies that take their place."In other words, protests and action are necessary for democratisation to become reality; otherwise, the institutions respond to the demands of the lobbies. Democratisation is possible only within a dynamic of contention."

However, according to the UPV/EHU's researcher, since the start of the crisis, the lobbies have seized power:"Throughout Europe the institutions are subordinate to the economic elite, and now we're suffering the effects of this.The consequences are also very serious.We are not moving deeper into democracy; quite the opposite, a regression has taken place:we are right in the midst of a de-democratisation process. And in the Basque Country the situation is worse, if anything, because the public institutions which are supposed to implement our demands depend on the central governments of Spain and France, and these governments respect neither the Basque institutions nor the demands of the Basques."

Elhuyar Fundazioa

Related Democracy Articles from Brightsurf:

Game 'pre-bunks' political misinformation by letting players undermine democracy
An online game helps ''inoculate'' players against fake news by showing them how political misinformation is created and circulated.

Democracy: Millennials are the most disillusioned generation 'in living memory' - global study
Globally, millennials are most dissatisfied with democracy, and more so than previous generations were when under 35.

Special Issue - Democracy: In Flux and Under Threat
In this special issue of Science, a series of Insights pieces examines the current state of democracy worldwide.

Paper ballots, risk-limiting audits can help defend elections and democracy, study finds
With just over two months before the 2020 election, three professors at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business offer a comprehensive review of how other nations are seeking to protect their democratic institutions and presents how a multifaceted, targeted approach is needed to achieve that goal in the U.S., where intelligence officials have warned that Russia and other rivals are again attempting to undermine our democracy.

OECD countries' politicians follow each other
The more democratic a country is, the greater the probability that its politicians decide in the same way as in neighbouring countries, without further analysis.

Do democracies behave differently from non-democracies when it comes to foreign policy?
The question of whether democracies behave differently from non-democracies is a central, and intense, debate in the field of international relations.

Perception of US democracy tanks after Trump impeachment
While President Donald Trump's impeachment gripped the country, the long-term consequences of his trial and acquittal for American democracy remain yet unclear.

Territorial short food supply chains foster food democracy and sustainability
A University of Cordoba study analyzed the governance mechanisms in territorial short food supply chains in Córdoba and Bogotá.

Secularism and tolerance of minority groups predicts future prosperity of countries
Secular cultures which are tolerant of minority groups and respectful of individuals' rights tend to have more wealth, education and democracy, a new study by University of Bristol scientists has found.

A new learning model to enhance citizen participation
How to teach citizens to become active members of the society?

Read More: Democracy News and Democracy Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to