Is Europe less democratic than the US?

I think this question got lost because of being dragged into the wrong thread but I would still like to hear an answer to this.

The following statements / conclusions are based on the public opinion and how it affects government policies.
Two examples were cited: The US upholding capital punishment in agreement with the public and European countries not implementing capital punishment even though the majority of the European public would support it.

Source forumosa.com/3/viewtopic.php … c&start=15

So is Europe less democratic than the US just because we had two examples, incidently supporting the US side? Or isn’t it rather wrong to reach that conclusion since we can be sure that the USG has also made decisions against the public opinion before, hence the US cannot be the ‘reference’!?

What does the example make Germany (to pick one European country) if we consider that the German government gave aid to Iraq against the public opinion? As democratic as the US? More democratic? Or is it still less democratic?

IMHO it is nonsense to reach such a conclusion on those arguments, no matter if death penalty, aid, taxes etc.
Governments sometimes do or have to make decision against the public opinion, but the government is made of democratically elected leaders.

As such I believe we could agree there is no ‘less (or more) democratic’ and the above statements / conclusions are wrong.

Without getting too deep into the issue, we can at least say that the US is apparently more democratic than Germany with respect to the issues you raised above.

Ok, if you strictly limit this to the example and nothing else I can’t really argue.

As such I would seek Fred and CF to clarify if they were strictly limiting the statement to the example or if they put this forward as a general statement based on the example given.

I would claim that the US is less democratic than for instance Germany and Denmark.

Death penalty is populist and a good way of mollifying the masses. (We are tough on crime, now fuck off)

However if you are an outsider wanting to be elected, you need a fortune. In Denmark, outsider parties often get into the halls of power.

In the US they have 2 influential parties only. If you want a seat, you have to swallow the creed of this or that party. Those 2 parties also monopolize the political discource.

In Denmark, we have between 8-12 parties represented in the parliament, so a bigger chorus of voices will get a proper hearing.

In Denmark, you won’t need to fundraise in order to be able to run a campain. In the US you need to spend a lot of time getting the money together in order to run a campain even on state level.

No, there’s now way you can even claim that the US is a more democratic place. More plutocratic, yes.

I’m loath to jump into this one too deeply as Rascal has asked and answered his own question(He must of finally learned something from the Taiwanese.)

I would rephrase it, for my purposes. What has a freer climate for individual success whether in academics, political, business etc…

I would say that in some instances the US comes ahead and in others the EU does.

The very real problem I see is bueracratic and judicial activism. When unelected members of gov’t start making laws or interpreting laws widely out of context. I see this as a serious problem. Considering how few Europeans know they have recently written a constitution for the EU and what it actually says. Judicial activism in Canada and the US doing things that the majority of people are against. Major policy initiatives launched successfully by fringe special interest groups.

Though Greenpeace is in big trouble with the US over it’s use of a non-profit organization designation. There is some justice in the world.

CYA
Okami

That isn’t relevant to the issue.

[quote=“Mr He”]In the US they have 2 influential parties only. If you want a seat, you have to swallow the creed of this or that party. Those 2 parties also monopolize the political discource.

In Denmark, we have between 8-12 parties represented in the parliament, so a bigger chorus of voices will get a proper hearing…[/quote]

That doesn’t make the US less democratic.

[quote=“Mr He”]In Denmark, you won’t need to fundraise in order to be able to run a campain. In the US you need to spend a lot of time getting the money together in order to run a campain even on state level.

No, there’s now way you can even claim that the US is a more democratic place. More plutocratic, yes.[/quote]

None of your points above are relevant to the issue of whether the US is less or more democratic than Denmark.

There are few places anywhere (none that I can think of) more democratic that the US states.

Let’s see now…in many European countries, it is illegal to question the official line about the Holocaust. One man was jailed for writing that Auschwitz’s pipes could not have been used for gas. Period. Nothing about politics. Another man in Germany has been jailed for teaching his dog to lift its paw in the “Heil Hitler” salute. In America one may freely express right-wing views in theory, although harassment from government and private groups (ADL) is likely.

In other ways, the U.S. is hardly democratic at all. Major policy questions are absolutely closed to public input. Most Americans would oppose sending aid money to Israel, support sending troops to the Mexican border to keep out illegal aliens, and want to see an end to affirmative action. For some reason the power elites have other ideas, and so we find ourselves sending aid money to Israel so THEY can build a fence to keep out THEIR unwanted neighbors, and preserve THEIR ethnically-based nation-state.

Another question we should be asking is, is democracy even desirable? Remember that few people really think for themselves, they mostly just follow whatever the TV tells them to think. “One man, one vote” ignores the obvious fact that not everybody’s opinion is equally worthwhile. Our problem is just that we have the wrong sorts of oligarchs.

Bollocks and you should be able to do better than that! The issue at stake is if the US is more or less democratic than some european countries. We don’t just look at the democratic death penalty, but also at how easy it is for smaller groups to gain representation in the parliament.

[quote=“Mr He”]In the US they have 2 influential parties only. If you want a seat, you have to swallow the creed of this or that party. Those 2 parties also monopolize the political discource.

In Denmark, we have between 8-12 parties represented in the parliament, so a bigger chorus of voices will get a proper hearing.[/quote]

In my view it does. A political process, where progress is measured by the kitty of the campainer? Give me a break. That’s not democratic unless you are rich.

I can think of some: Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland etc…

Democracy is not measured by a fine-worded constitution or whether people have to sue in order to be heard. Democracy is a process, where decisions are reached by the majority, but in a way, where the concerns of the minorities are also heeded. It’s not the dictatorship of the majority, but also a system, which protects the rights of the minority. Look at the political systems in some of the more advanced European countries. I was very active in Danish politics once, and I learned that it was easy to get a hearing and that the respect for other people was well above anything I have heard about from DC.

In a pure democracy, smaller groups don’t usually get much representation. But that’s beside the point.

Mr. He,

You cannot seriously compare Denmark (with its relatively homogenous population of how many?) with the US (with its highly diverse population of 280 million) regarding democracy. The US federal system does in fact strive to give the majority rule with protection of the minority. At the state level, the US is at least as democratic as any other nation.

Speaking in general terms (not restricted to death penalty):

So what do the people think which are of the opinion ‘the US is more democratic’ about the following issues:

  1. Allowing the public to ‘vote out’ a certain minority group (religious, racial etc.).

  2. Imagine the American public voting an immediate withdrawal from Iraq (say before end of February).

Should this be allowed to be ‘more democratic’ or could you just accept the fact that there are cases where the public opinion must be overruled, even in the best democracy there is, and hence the whole classification doesn’t apply?

In some ways the US is more democratic.

For example, a greater number of posts are open for election - including judges, etc.

However, the huge number of elections means that voter turn-out can be very low, and so as a by-product, you might say the US is less democratic. (I think the Economist made this point recently.)

Then, Mr H made a point that large amounts of money in US campaigns mean that independents do not get much of a chance. There is a lot of truth in that, I suspect. Though money is hardly completely absent from European politics. Nevertheless, it appears to be a far less significant part of the process.

The Mr H stated that there is a greater diversity of parties in some European states.

And in some ways, that is more democratic.

However, I would then borrow from the historian Eric Hobsbawm to make the point that perhaps the essence of democracy is not as one-man, one-vote but as the ability to bloodlessly remove your government and replace it with another, different one. In these circumstances, a two-party system is more likely to see a radical change of Government. A multi-party system is more likely just to see an election result in a subtle change in the mixture of different parties in the parliament. yet, the same deals have to be struck and minority parties do tend to exercise more power than they should. (Though non-european Israel’s religious right comes to mind as a particularly troublesome example.)

In general, I prefer the two-party system as “more democratic” in this latter sense, though I accept that this may not satisfy those with a purist definition.

I think I am arguing, in a rascallian way, that too much ‘democracy’ can lead to undemocratic results and that it is not a question of playing a game of who is more democratic than the other, but which systems allow for people to most easily exercise their most vital rights.

[quote=“Rascal”]So what do the people think which are of the opinion ‘the US is more democratic’ about the following issues:

  1. Allowing the public to ‘vote out’ a certain minority group (religious, racial etc.).[/quote]

This would surely be unconstitutional. The written constituiton of the US is one of the better guarantees of individual liberty. And therefore a point in the US’s favour i would think.

Little chance, of course, either in the US or many European countries, as it is not government by referendum. Nevertheless, we do know that public opinion did play a role in influencing US government attitudes to the vietnam war. But it would in Europe, too. honours even on that one I guess.

Little chance perhaps, but the question was if that isn’t “less democratic” then.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have said voting here, demanding might have been the better word (since the issue about death penalty wasn’t a voing either).

AFAIK only very few countries allow direct votes in inportant decisions, say Switzerland and perhaps Sweden where the population recently voted agains the Euro.

well, i have the perception that US public opinion was broadly in favour of a war and french/german broadly against. US went to war, France/Germany did not. so on this test… like I say, honours even.

I see the English electorate voted with their feet today.

[quote]200,000 MARCH AGAINST BUSH IN LONDON

Nov 20 2003
By Naveed Raja

A massive demonstration against George Bush drew up to 200,000 marchers on the streets of London today.

Organisers of the march, ending in a rally at Trafalgar Square, said the number was a record for any weekday protest in Britain.
[/quote]

Ah Europe…the home of Communism, Fascism and Nazism…all eagerly embraced by its populations…concentration camps, human “medical experimentation”, the 2 most destructive wars in human history…

I would say Germany as a big diverse place is at least as democratic as the US, even though money, lack of referendums on nation level aso might detract a bit.

Another thing I think detract from the Democratic nature of US is the legal activism. Roe vs Wade should have been settled by referendum or at least by a vote in congress. I would also say that a mechanism, where a certain number of congress members could send a law to a referendum on a national level would add to the democratic feel. Moreover, a strong emphasis on campain reform (McCain x 5) would help. While I concur that smaller political units might be easier to make democratic, I would say that the significance of very democratic local government could be overstated. What you say is that the US is more democratic when it comes to local policy etc. but less so, when it comes to national policy, defense, medicaid, medicare, foreign policy etc. Could you see a referendum on Nafta? We have had 5 on the EU, of which 1 went against the government, who then had to sit down and change their plans, before trying again.

If you mean litigiousnous, i.e., every-dog-has-his-day, then it is surely reaching absurd levels in the US. But this is a not dissimilar phenomenon in may ways to the proliferation of small political parties in Europe that you admired. Its just a step further towards absurdity.

Really? I think I would want it to be settled by legal issues, balancing the rights of the mother with the rights of the unborn child and leaving enough room for personal moral choices. I would not want the legaility or otherwise of abortion to be decided by whether Democrats or Republicans control congress in any particular term. Surely, the supreme court is exactly the right way to have considered the issue?

Hmm, IYBF, I would say that the legal side of it is more wise and balanced, although less democratic.

Free abortion has been granted by referendum(Italy), legal (Denmark, UK, Sweden etc) and by courts. Free abortion to 12 weeks seems to be the commmon standard, except for the UK, where it’s somewhat longer. So although the methods went from the very democratic (Italy) over the somewhat less democratic, but still by representative democracy (Most of the rest) to the democracy of 12 (USA), the result was the same. (I prefer the Italian way).

Point taken

…And the home of Friedrich von Mieses, Adam Smith, John Locke etc, the first democracies in the world etc.