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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 April, 2004, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
Fear and Voting
BBC Radio 4's Analysis: Fear and Voting was broadcast on Thursday, 22 April, 2004 at 20:30 BST.

Is Western democracy peculiarly vulnerable to terrorism?

The acclaimed historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto examines the reactions of voters and governments to terrorist outrages, asking if the biggest casualty may be our political way of life.

It might be argued that Western democracy should be able to create a peaceful way of accommodating all political values. It is pluralistic, it respects freedoms of opinion and expression.

On the contrary there seems to be some evidence that some voters in some countries find terrorism attractive and support for parties associated with it grows.

What can a democratic government do in the face of terrorism that seems to have no negotiable demands and seem to be bent on our destruction? Should it be prepared to compromise the freedoms we take for granted in order to squeeze out violently subversive views?

Or will that destroy our values from within? If we do tolerate such views, do we invite our own destruction? There are those who warn both against complacency and against overreaction.

With interviewees including: former Home Secretary Douglas Hurd, writer Fareed Zakaria and human rights lawyer Conor Gearty, the programme examines the psychology of terror as it affects governments and voters, asking what is truly threatened by terrorism and how, in a democracy, we should react.

Presenter: Felipe Fernandez-Armesto
Producer: Michael Balstland
Editor: Nicola Meyrick




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