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Democracy 800 years after Magna Carta

Published: Monday, 16th February 2015

The Foundation's first conference of 2015, "The future of democracy in the world", was dedicated to the commemoration of the sealing of Magna Carta 800 years ago.

Participants were in accord that democracy, though flawed in many of its incarnations, remained the least worst form of governance. The issue of a comprehensive definition of democracy was side-stepped, with those round the table preferring instead to identify the main features associated with the concept, whilst recognizing that not every democracy had exactly the same values.  It was found to be more useful to view democracy as a continuum rather than a binary issue.

Some time  was spent assessing the failings of mature ‘western` democracies, with widespread concern about voting apathy, and the disillusion many felt with politicians and the political system. There was a digital disconnect between the electorate and the elected. This was in stark contrast to the enthusiasm and civic pride still associated with voting within the newer emerging democracies, although many of them faced more fundamental challenges too.

Recent events had highlighted the importance of the values enshrined within democracy, the freedoms of expression and association, and the rule of law, and it was more important than ever that these should be upheld as the way forward for a strong civil society.

Those attending did not arrive at a neat set of recommendations, but a number of key points did emerge and are included at the end of the Director’s Note summarising discussions.

To read the full report click here.