Tuesday 17 Jul 2018 | 18:01 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 17 Jul 2018 | 18:01 | SYDNEY

Paying tribute to democracy


Sam Roggeveen


28 August 2008 14:36

Things go along quite nicely in Francis Fukuyama's op-ed in today's SMH, until halfway down you strike this:

Despite recent authoritarian advances, liberal democracy remains the strongest, most broadly appealing idea out there. Most autocrats, including Putin and Chavez, still feel that they have to conform to the outward rituals of democracy even as they gut its substance. Even China's Hu Jintao felt compelled to talk about democracy in the run-up to Beijing's Olympic Games. And Musharraf proved enough of a democrat to let himself be driven from office by the threat of impeachment.

He's probably right about the proposition in that lead sentence, but the evidence he supplies to support it is pretty weak. After all, the old communist East Germany was called the German Democratic Republic. But all that told us was that the communists had a very different idea of what democracy was, and it wasn't the liberal kind that Fukuyama favours. I'd wager the same is true for Putin and Hu.

As for Musharraf, surely his eroding power base, as well as personal safety and liberty, were higher considerations in his decision to resign than democratic accountability.