This is a second page of your comments on exporting democracy
The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:
There is no such thing as western democracy. Either you have a democracy or you don't. If you want it and are prepared to die for it you will enjoy it. If not...
Helena Merlin, Montana, US
US democracy is being eroded by the current administration - evidenced by them pulling an offensive TV program off the air. I never thought this could happen in the US. We certainly aren't a role model for democracy any more.
Becky, Ohio, US
To Michael Leone of Montreal: There was never a French Revolution for democracy, just a bunch of bourgeoisie dictator clowns misleading an ignorant public. The only true revolution for democracy was the American Revolution.
I mean, democracy is the best arrangement for society but only society that has historically developed towards democracy or has some of the preconditions. We cannot simply apply democracy to social orders which are traditionally based on community or local authority. Western society should not export democracy wherever it likes, especially not by force. However, even in the West, tradition should not be forgotten.
Sarka Bartova, Prague, Czech Republic
Do we have democracy? When we should be allowed referendums on crucial issues, we are denied them and told "it's in our best interests". So does imposing our system of democracy on other nations really do them a favour? I think Iraq should be left to find its own way and not be influenced by the west. The only reason why the US wants democracy in Iraq is to have it in its own image - and that won't suit Iraq at all!
I can't believe the mental gymnastics people go through to be original, thought-provoking, and completely wrong. All these criticisms of Western democracy (focused on the US in particular) miss the major point: democracy works better than anything else. The countries that see the highest numbers of immigrants are Western democracies. Why are people fleeing other forms of government in favour of democracy if democracy is so flawed? It can't be forced on others but there is little real evidence that any other form of government is anywhere near as successful.
Jim, NJ, USA
Democracy does not now exist in my country - England. Tony Blair has managed to do what two world wars could not! He has made a dictatorship and the only right opinion is his. This is from a Labour supporter of over 40 years who has left his native country which he still adores and now lives in Spain.
Peter Delahunty, Albir, Spain
Democracy is for freedom what communism is for equality, an unattainable ideal. An ideal which forget the defects of human nature: jealousy and egoism. So it is certainly not the perfect system, but I won't exchange it for a dictatorship.
Most American people do seem to have a genuinely democratic outlook. But the US system of government is very deeply flawed. It gives disproportionate weight to less populous and usually more conservative states and gives politicians representing the wealthy a huge spending advantage over their rivals. Americans are ruled by a system of government that often frustrates the will of the people, rather than implementing it..
Mark MacCallum, New Zealand
I believe that democracy, in some form, is critical to the protection of basic human rights. You cannot ensure protection of rights without a voice for the people. That doesn't meant that democracy by itself is the guarantee of rights, but it is indispensable.
Western democracy is best for the West as it is based upon Western culture and ideology. Every culture can come up with a style of democracy best suited to its culture. That is the biggest failure of Western foreign policy - attempting to create little Americas or Britain in various parts of the world.
Wairimu Kuria, Kenya
The problem with Democracy is that everybody gets a vote. Even stupid people, and there are a frightening number of them out there. Don't forget, it's democracy that put people like Hitler and Mussolini into power seventy years ago. And if you'll read a bit of Noam Chomsky, or study a bit of cultural psychology, you will quickly find that we only see things certain ways "because everybody says so", or because "the media says so", no matter how wrong they might be, or what agendas they might have. No, your best bet is an absolute ruler, preferably a benevolent one who'll keep to the law, treat everyone equally, and cause no unnecessary trouble. A Machiavellian dictator is the best way to go. Democracy is just a sham to keep the masses under control.
In terms of democracy the US has very little to export as it basically has a plutocratic system with some democratic rituals attached. GW Bush was never democratically elected - this is really a flaw that should not have been possible. However, I cannot imagine that he will not step down if he is defeated in the next election. In this respect democracy as a system of checks and balances seems to work in the US. Not much to be proud of, though.
Ronald Vopel, Brussels, Belgium
The idea that in some places, there are people that don't want to determine their own fate in the world is ludicrous! All people everywhere want to make the decisions that determine their future. The notion that somewhere there are people that enjoy cruel repressive regimes is just ignorant, all people everywhere yearn to breath free. It is Mankind's basic nature to enjoy freedom, that's why so many millions have died to get it! People fighting for their freedom, always fight harder and with more tenacity!
Brady Hastings, Elkhart, USA
Nobody really knows what is democracy. Robert Mugabe claims to be democratic so does George Bush. You simply can't draw the line. How can you export something that's not even there?
Bruce, Utrecht, Netherlands
True freedom is, in fact, total anarchy. In a completely free to vote society your neighbours could vote to evict you and the state could do nothing. So Democracy cannot be true freedom. The real challenge for new democracies is to get the balance of law and freedom in line. In such places as Afghanistan, strict Islamic laws are in place. Can these laws still remain in place when it claims to be a free democracy now? Also, western nations such as the USA and UK, many things considered immoral such as Abortion are legal. Is democracy allowing you to do such things and is it right?
James Wright, Middlesbrough, UK
Although I completely believe that democracy is the right path, as Martin Sheen said in the West Wing "democracies don't work, that's why republics exist."
It is hard to enforce democracy in countries that have had no experience of it. There also exists the intellectual and academic debate that democracy and human rights is a new form imperialism being forced upon the world by the West and by the "liberal" United States. Do we have the right to tell other how they should live? True, I believe that we should all be free of persecution and be free to make our own choices but we must ask, how should we approach introducing democracy to these nations?
Nick, York, England
Democracy is not a model, it is a concept. We run into problems and cultural imperialism when we export our model, e.g. US in Iraq -- a project doomed to failure. Democracy is, in its purest form, mutual respect. This includes interactions between individuals to interactions between higher organisational structures. Any model is easily corruptible without this base always working, always being reinforced. Installing a western model does not ensure the rest follows.
Daniel Duplisea, Mont-Joli, Quebec, Canada
Although democratic ideals are certainly commendable, there is little to be gained in a cookie-cutter approach to nation building throughout the world. There are beginning to be signs of policy makers acknowledging the benefits of alternative democratic forms with the recent development of such an entity as the Afghani Islamic Republic. Future nation building efforts should be centred around somehow synthesizing the indigenous population's natural form of governance (repressive regimes of any form excluded) with the insights of liberal democratic theory.
I think a republic style democracy with representatives and checks and balances between executive, legislative and judicial branches has certainly stood the test of time and is the best mechanism we have to insure some input of everyday people. Cultural impediments to establishing it only put some countries farther behind those countries who have it.
Oh, absolutely. Western style democracy is indeed the answer. That is exactly what the world needs: a cookie cutter rule, approach and answer to every culture, region, religion and race, with no respect for individuality. By the way it always amazes me that what the west so boldly calls "western" actually had its birth in Asia Minor and at a time when the actual "west" was littered with barbarians. It is sweet to take full credit for someone else's work. It is also so easy to ignore the fact that other religions like Islam actually mandate the selection of a ruler (Emir) by vote (don't let countries like Saudi Arabia be the ideal for Islamic republic- it is far from one). So let's please not call it "western style democracy".
Laila Rene, New York, NY
While Western-style democracy may be on its way to an ideal form of democracy, it is not necessarily good for all countries at this point in time. A form of government cannot be good or effective in a country unless the people of that country desire it and accept its legitimacy. Whether or not Western-style democracy is good for the world at the moment is not the issue as much as is whether or not the people of the world want a Western-style democracy. Whatever prevails in the end, it is the right of the people of a country to choose how they are governed, and, while other countries may disagree, that disagreement is ok.
Naomi, Washington, DC, USA
How democratic is a system in which a candidate for president loses the election but still gets appointed by the Supreme Court? I shudder to think this system would become the universal standard of democratic excellence. Judges rule!
Michael, Cupertino, CA
What can I say.... I have lived in India Nigeria and then UK and USA. As a woman I have come to value the western democracy as opposed to Nigerian or Indian. My rights as a woman ARE respected and protected. As a US resident I am valued much more than as a female citizen of India or Nigeria
All democracies are western style democracies - as the first successful democracy emerged in the west (Athens). But it's not because a concept is Western in origin that it can't be used in other parts of the world. Stigmatising democracy as something western is used by dictatorial regimes that try to further brainwash their victims. These people do not have access to free media and are made to believe that if you have democracy you get lawlessness and a decay of moral values. The fear for democracy is due to leaders that know that without their rule of terror they will never be able to remain in power and when they are out of power they will have to 'pay' for the atrocities they committed.
Filip Michielsen, Antwerp, Belgium
Democracy itself is good, if the people of a nation want it. The problem with its export to Iraq is that the US economic policies are being imposed by an occupier. All Iraq's companies are allowed to be foreign owned & profits can be exported. So this is not democracy at all (did Iraqis choose for their assets to be sold to foreign interests?). Instead, it's just another nation dictated to by big business who will hold all the power, just like the USA.
Derek, New Zealand
Democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what's for lunch. So no... It isn't good for the world.
I think the problem here is that we are taking a rather vague theory of "western democracy" which is being equated almost exclusively with US democracy as if US democracy is the only kind of democracy known to man, when nothing could be further from the truth. There are a plurality of different democratic systems in the world, some working better than others.
For example in a European Parliamentary democracy, it is not only unthinkable but technically impossible that an unelected individual could be given a ministerial post in a government, while Americans find this normal.
What is important is that fundamental ideas of democracy, ie. the right of citizens to freely choose their government, to hold it accountable and to get rid of it peacefully through elections, is essential.
A case of all roads leading to Rome perhaps? (although given the antics of the current Italian Prime Minister maybe a bad analogy right now...)
Rebecca, Brussels, Belgium
What is real democracy? Whether in proportional representation or first past the post, if there is no possibility of registering a vote of rejection, then there is no possibility of registering all political views of the electorate. Yes the voter is allowed to decide who power will pass to but he cannot reject offers, he can only accept them. No wonder people are disillusioned with democracy when real responsibility for people's future is taken away from them.
Adam Kosterski, Warsaw, Poland
Democracy is one of the better forms of government we have at the moment but one should realize that it need not be the best possible. In every democracy we look at what the majority has to say. What about the minority that thinks differently? So one can define democracy as "Oppression of the minority according to the whims of politicians elected by the majority". So it is not correct to enforce any kind of system against the wishes of the people of that country.
P. Mogre, Darmstadt, Germany
The democratic way of existing and living, perhaps, is good. But the key point of the problems arising from democracy is that people are not accustomed to it due to the fact that they used to living under the control of central authorities (as in Russia) where the authorities were supposed to do everything to provide citizens with the necessary commodities and means of living. But the situation has changed and everyone is on his own way to make a living. We, the so-called post-Soviet generation, are trying to correspond to this but the majority of the so-called Soviet generation is the stumbling block for real democracy to establish in Russia.
Yurii, Saint-Petersburg, Russia
Liberal Democracy is the best gift the west has given to the world.
It is the only form of government which accommodates the plurality in views, lifestyles, religious beliefs etc of all its people. It makes people feel secure (contrast it with a non-Muslim living in an Islamic theocracy) - which is a foundation for peace.
Democracy in all our actions is the best way forward for mankind.
Ramanujam Chary, Mumbai, India
Despite what some people seem to think, this discussion is about democracy, not capitalism.
I believe that democracy, in some form, is critical to the protection of basic human rights. You cannot ensure protection of rights without a voice for the people. That doesn't meant that democracy by itself is the guarantee of rights, but it is indispensable.
The beauty of an effective liberal democracy is that the citizens control their own destiny. The citizens lose control, however, when they cease to be informed or to participate in elections. In the U.S. today, misinformation, apathy, and laziness have resulted in leaders that do not clearly represent anyone's interest except their own. A clear example of this is in the recent recall election in California. A gubernatorial candidate who failed to discuss any real solutions to the problems of that state was elected solely on his ability to effectively manipulate media exposure. If this is the kind of government that we want others to model then I say, no, a western style democracy is not good for the world.
The interesting thing about democracy is, that the will of the people rules. Real Democracy means that, for example, the people of a state could choose a theocracy or any other form of government. It's all about choice.
Hudson, Chicago, USA
It is important to realise that the democracy that we enjoy in the West is still barely one hundred years old and that, most importantly, it was an organic development. It sprouted from ideas and was worked at until it bloomed. To simply take the whole flower and plant it in alien soil, cultures which have no experience of democracy or its ideals, is to court disaster. Democracy is not simply a "system "it is a "culture" and it must be given care and time - increasingly rare commodities - to properly flower.
Andrew Saunders, Hobart, Australia
In response to Andrew Saunders: Those that believe that we shouldn't spread democracy because it must grow out of well-planted cultural roots are ignoring the facts. In particular, when Japan was defeated in ww2, it had absolutely no democratic inheritance, yet within a few years, it became a successful democracy with the greatest economic strength in the non-democratic region.
In my opinion, those who hold up the spread of democracy by saying that some cultures will not benefit from it are just apologists for dictators.
Democracy does little for the people. It doesn't hold politicians responsible to the people and democracy serves only to benefit the bourgeoisie. Socialism is the most serving political system. It gives benefits to everyone and prevents monopolies among capitalist giants.
Emmanuel Goldstein, Belarus
Democracy is not, in and of itself, a magic recipe for good government, or a better life. It is nothing more than an instrument of peace, a tool through which a disfavoured government can be rejected in favour of another, without violence. While that alone is good, there are many breeds of democracy, and one which exists in what we would think of as an oppressive society is not any less of a democracy. However, history has shown that people, given free access to information, more often than not tend to gravitate toward western-style secular governments. Historically, democracies are more peaceful, and tend to flourish. Based on this, I believe that bringing democracy to the world is a good thing. That leaves only the question of how to bring democracy to the world, and whether bringing democracy through war is an acceptable practice.
Jonathan S. Fox, Portland OR, USA
After the second world war, the Axis powers Italy, Germany, and Japan embraced democracy and they haven't done all that badly. Eastern Europe is trying to follow suit and countless millions in Russia and China would love to have the peace, prosperity, stability, and freedom that democracy brings with it. When the Chinese protestors in Tiananmen square raised their Goddess of Liberty, it was unmistakeable what inspired them to risk their lives. Even in the darkest most secretive dictatorships, the world knows and hopes.
The first lines after the main title shown how the history is mislead. US have never exported democracy to Latin America, they were supporters (and help to initiate) all of the most brutal dictatorships in Latin America (e.g. Argentina, Chile, Uruguay). These are facts not political fantasies. US did not invent or export democracy; they are just using it to fulfil their own political agenda. Democracy is great step of human kind, but too often used has pretext for hidden economic and political agendas, that had killed several thousand people in the last decades.
Leonardo Costas, Stockholm, Sweden
Western democracy is an illusion. People get to vote usually once every 4 or 5 years but rarely are the promises voted for adhered to or honoured. Politicians are lapdogs of corporate masters who now threaten to ruin economies by relocating to countries with little or no cost related laws such as labour rights, pollution controls, taxes, etcetera. The conglomerates of the defence industry and their media holdings are the true rulers of this world.
The world needs another French revolution, but one that is peaceful and done on a global scale.
Michael Leone, Montreal, Canada
Look at a third world country like India, where 70% of the voting population actually votes, and there is a cap on how much a political candidate could spend on propaganda. In the US, people have no national or regional political awareness, and the politicians are nothing but the sons of rich men, or celebrities, or treated as such. Democracy isn't the word that comes to mind when to describe this system. In a democracy the citizens have to treat their political leaders as civil servants, and go beyond nationalistic rhetoric, and form their own individual opinions.
K Modi, Austin, TX
Good democratic government is subject to the will of the people. But, increasingly in the West, the people's will is being deliberately manipulated by huge, unelected media corporations. This problem is most acute in nations where there is no
tradition of public service broadcasting to provide a balance. Many countries from the less "democratic" world, actually possess a more balanced media, and the value of free speech, central to Western Democracy, is much reduced when it's only being used to push a corporate agenda.
Jon E, France
The idea and principles of democracy are universal and not a trademark of Western Civilization. Representative Democracy in its modern form however was no doubt shaped and implemented in the West but American-style democracy may not be perfect for a present-day Islamic dictatorship the same way tasty vegetarian Indian food is good for everybody. Democracy like vegetarianism is healthy but must be adapted and managed to suit the local conditions. Core principles do not change such as universal suffrage and accountability among others.
Hari Prakash, Montreal, Canada
Once upon a time I was an admirer (albeit reluctant) of western democracy for its inbuilt recognition of the fallibility of any single man and its consequent building of numerous watchdog institutions to curb the excesses of any one individual. And the US, in my estimation, best epitomized this. For me, the appeal of this western democracy as practiced in the US has waned. It turns out that institutions themselves are subject to the egos and greeds of those who constitute them, personal liberties must be qualified - the personal liberties of Americans are above those of any other nation in the world - and governments ought only to be elected by the people when they do not interfere with western self interests.
The export of western democracy to the world seems to me fraught with hidden, self-serving agendas. The rest of the world should be wise enough to throw away the dregs, but shrewd enough to sieve out the gems first.
Wambura Kimunyu, Nairobi, Kenya
It's amusing to read all these "criticisms" of American democracy.
The United States is NOT a democracy. We are a Republic. We elect the people who make, enforce, and interpret the laws. Those of you who hate American "democracy" can hate it all you want; it simply doesn't exist.
Joseph Brassard, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
America has a special kind of democracy. A kind that lets one choose how to live his or her own life. America brings together cultures and religions like no other country in the world. Unfortunately this style of democracy is hard to emulate, and in some cases (such as Iraq) will completely backfire. Democracy clearly is the ideal for every country, but the style cannot and will not be the same.
Ravi, Chapel Hill, USA
We've heard a lot about America's intentions to impose liberal democracy in Iraq. Unfortunately, you can't have it both ways. A democratic Iraq will elect Islamist parties and impose Sharia law. That's not 'liberal'. If America wants Iraqis to elect liberal parties it will have to eliminate Islam in Iraq, or at least wear it down to the toothless entity Western churches have become. It's cultural genocide, but it may be for the best. Only when the teachings of Islam have ceased to be unquestionable will you get the pluralistic liberal democracy that America so desires.
Conrad Vink, Cambridge, UK
I don't believe there is such thing as western democracy anymore, it is only US democracy which is basically just do what I tell you!! Western democracy died with the election of the current US president.
Hamed Al Mahruqy, Muscat, Oman
Britain "imposed" democracy on many different countries - but the key thing was that the imposition was "enforced" for long enough for democratic traditions to become established. In the UK democracy evolved over several hundred years, so to expect a country with no tradition of democracy to embrace the democratic ethic in a matter of months or years is, to say the least, naive. The key question is whether domestic opinion in the US and the UK as well as international opinion - even in democratic countries, has the stomach for the long term investment that will be necessary.
Andy, Gloucester, UK
Western style democracy? I apologize if I am being simplistic and argumentative...but there is just democracy. Or can you give examples of Northern, Southern and Eastern style democracies? Democracy is good for the world, Western arrogance is not. The US is not a democracy, it is a federal republic that is rapidly becoming an oligarchy just like the Roman Republic. The founding fathers read Plato and were completely aware of the short-comings of a "democracy"... mainly the majority is rarely in agreement and even less often right. Hence the Republic Spirit of 1776 which is being obliterated by the "New World Order" of religious fundamentalist and Neo-conservatives who will do absolutely anything to get power and keep it.
Christopher Sibley, Wellington, New Zealand
Western democracy is good for the world, for sure. It costs money but saves lives. In my opinion, for most of the non-democratic countries in the world, the most urgent need is to practise democratically in their own affairs. A democratic form is important but not essential. When the world acts in the principle of democracy, the earth will become a better place to live.
In 1992, Algeria had its first free western-style democratic election and the Islamic Party (FIS) where voted for almost unanimously (over 90%) - what happened? The elections were cancelled, the FIS was outlawed and tens of thousands slaughtered or imprisoned just because they exercised their right to choose! So now the democracy is ruled by the military with a puppet president on show. Long live democracy?
Hope Full, UK
The West should spend more time supporting the basic institutions on which democracy is built. The evidence from many countries including Indonesia, Zimbabwe & Venezuela to name a few, is that basic structural inequities need to addressed if new democracies are to have a chance at surviving against populist sentiment i.e. the popular demand for justice. Also, the basic institutions required for democracy need to be strengthened so as to weather the cut-and-thrust of a real democracy. The real issue is that the West must take a longer view and realise that "free-and-fair-elections-as-soon-as-possible" is not a quick fix.
Democracy is a system of government not a philosophy or an application of societal norms. Would anyone care to explain how having the legal right to express your views and decide the fate of your country should be confined to only specific countries?
J. Frost, USA
Western style democracy is market driven with spin. The corporate and business interest is always placed before the public and policies are driven to benefit the few rich. It talks of tolerance and democracy, human rights as long as it safeguards the interest of few. Western-style democracy may seem to be working in west due its weakened family or moral values but in societies with strong ties with the community needed for social and economic reasons, it simply creates anarchy followed by greed.
As it is, western democracy has evolved to a point where ideology no longer matters. What matters is that the people have a peaceful mechanism for removing leaders they no longer want.
Garth, Harare, Zimbabwe
Any political system where Mr & Ms average citizen can, collectively, remove an incompetent leader peacefully and without fear of retribution and choose the direction they wish their country to take without being overwhelmed by big business lobbying is in my opinion a democracy. However, having lived in Africa with it's robber/baron politicians, SE Asia with it's dictator/monarchs and north America with it's powerful big business lobby groups I have yet to see a true democracy.
Cliff, Johannesburg South Africa
It is the "management" of democracy that is the problem, as opposed to the system of democracy.
J Brown, Germany
Democracy has not come easily to anyone, including most Europeans (remember Germany, Spain, Italy, Vichy France). Others deserve their own chance, including the right to trial and error. I am an optimist, believing that most Arabs have a chance of getting there much more smoothly than, say, the Germans did.
Anat, Haifa, Israel
Western democracies offer little choice to the public. There isn't much to choose from between the Republicans and the Democrats far less between the Tories and New Labour. In India, on the other hand, you have the whole range to vote for: from the right wing BJP to at least three wings of Communists, and many more centrist shadings in between.
Damodar Singh, India
Here in the west we do not live by a democracy as in the voice of the people, we live by the laws of the Corporate world.
I believe that democracy cannot be transferred by war and occupation. Democracy is a philosophy in which the residents of a country must believe in before they apply.
Unless the world is converted totally to western democracy, we (humans) as a race will never achieve our potential to strive forward through technology, science and a free environment to make this world a better place. If a religious based world is allowed to dominate (and control), the prejudices caused by religious differences will dominate and our society will grow stagnant. To move forward, we need to be free.
Matthew W. Marchaza,USA
"Liberal democracy?" Where? Certainly no such thing exists today, at least not in the USA! The forced exportation of the "globalized" system of oligarchic rule and a thinly disguised western imperialism seems rather closer to the truth.
Why restrict us to the US brand of democracy? The Americans have one style, the British another and the Swiss a third (and there are other minor variations on these).
US democracy stops at the ballot box and governments appoint outsiders to fill key roles, often with political bias. British democracy also stops at the ballot box but doesn't rely so much on unelected officials. Swiss democracy is continuous with frequent referendums for the citizens to tell the government their wishes and the government being obliged to carry them out. Personally, I believe that the Swiss style of democracy has far more to offer other countries than the US brand because the population is in control of its own destiny and not under the whim of unelected officials.
John McLean, Switzerland
Western democracy, in my humble belief, is the best thing we currently have. Unfortunately, the way it has been "exported" to countries like Iraq is going to create more problems than it proposes to resolve. Democracy, to work effectively, also needs to have its citizens informed of the unbiased truth - something Americans are dearly lacking with their T.V. news media.
I am a Muslim living in a democratic country and I do not consider democracy as belonging to western values only. Democracy is not the monopoly of the West, it is also an ideal in many cultures, traditions and religions.
Just what is "western-styled" democracy? Hierarchically arranged rule by a coalition of big business interests, and party bosses? An oligarchy with a sneering acceptance of the "peoples' right" to cast meaningless ballots for cardboard cut out candidates who are carefully selected by their party machines to have similar ranges of views and interests?
Western "Democracy" isn't actually democracy at all, it is just an illusion of democracy, based on this ludicrous idea of "free election" that gives people the impression that they are living in a "free society".
Whoever gets into power in western countries is essentially the same as the last person who got into power. In that respect it is no different from a totalitarian system where the same leader always gets elected. We may elect different leaders but they all act in the same way once elected.
It makes no difference whether you live in the west or the east. Any system where one person is in charge of a country basically revolves around power, and nobody is going to want to do that job unless they crave power.
Simon Moore, EU
Simon's comments about there being no difference between a western style democracy and a totalitarian state are niaive in the extreme. Their leaders might want the same thing, i.e. power, but their restrictions in using it are very different.
Having visited Berlin during the height of the Cold War in the early 80s, the difference between East and West was evident.
Democracy relies upon a set of cultural beliefs, justice and equity and so on. If these aren't in place then democracy achieves nothing.
Whatever its flaws, democracy has proved to be the best model for avoiding wars and protecting liberties.
Let's be thankful for what we've got and work to improve it, not destroy it.
As long as states of the world wish to be (or to remain) part of the United Nations, there's little room for discussion. UN Charter rules, and other international treaties ratified by so many non-democratic countries of the world, make it clear that respect for Human Rights and Democracy is a condition sine qua non. There is a contradiction in the fact that China is a permanent UN SC member and at the same time opposes democracy and human rights because they would be a "western ideology". It's not an issue of cultural homologation, but coherence with freely accepted international binding obligations should be required.
Enrico Muratore, Italy
If democracy is NOT good, then I doubt whether most of the participants in this discussion group would have been able to air their opinion fairly and squarely!
Vnay Citnis, Poona, India
Judging by how western-style democracies have prospered, the answer is yes. Sure, you'll get comments from socialist, anarchists, but do they really know what it is like to live under a dictatorship? In fact, the very reason they can voice their opinions is due to democracy.
Where western democracy succeeds, it delivers social stability, respect for human rights and freedoms for everyone and, as a result, increased prosperity. If certain cultures don't want that, then that is there choice - but they need to realise that they cannot expect to enjoy the same quality of life as westerners without taking on board at least some of the values and structures of the west. Western democracy and quality of life are a package deal.
Steven Forrester, UK
Western style democracy is good. Bahrain now has a democratically elected parliament. The people now feel that they have a say in the running of the country, even though there are some Islamic extremists in parliament, they are a minority. Also, there has never been a war between two democracies, so it must be good for world peace.
John Hindley, Bahrain/UK
Democracy with freedoms of expression and an independent judiciary is the most scientific, reasonable and balanced option currently available. Scientific because it relies on feedback from the people, reasonable because it understands that people are essentially human, and if they err, it might be time for a better replacement. And balanced because the views of all who care to vote are reflected. Any country that cares enough about the above qualities can make democracy work. There is nothing inherently western about it.
Siddhartha Shivshankar, India (USA)
Are we talking about the presidential democracy of USA or about a parliamentary democracy? I think we really need to clarify the differences! I also believe it is easier for people from authoritarian countries to transition to a USA style presidential democracy than to a parliamentary democracy.
A. Chan, Hong Kong
Absolutely. Democracy takes different forms which differs from one culture to another, therefore we cannot take that western concept and just stick it into other countries saying that's democracy...you must respect other's traditions even if they don't go with what you call democracy.
Ahmed Lashine, Egypt
The western style of democracy has given value addition to human liberty and thereby fostered a sense of growth and progress. The spirit of accommodation from people of varied faiths and beliefs is the core success of all democracies in the world and found to be true with our establishments in India.
Pradeep Prabhakar, India
While the principles of democracy - free speech, free religious choice, free enterprise, equal rights, voting, and so forth - are good, I don't think the current Western style democracies based on capitalism are applicable around the world. It gives big business too much power and coerces governments to adapt laws that favour them even more. Furthermore, the selective process of who can run for office is too often related to personal wealth. People who have leadership capabilities should stand for office by a selective, objective process, not by who you know or how rich you are. So, until we can elect from a group of people who are leaders, regardless of their material assets, democracy still has a long way to go.
Victor D., Thailand
Democracy means that we have a say in the final decision, that the government must act on the desires of the majority, unless they oppress the rights of the minority.
Michael Sweeney, USA
What a lack of humility!
Why could we give lesson to people we even don't known the cultural way of life? Western democracy is a good thing for my country. But I will never try to dictate it to another country, it would be colonialism.
Nicolas G, FRANCE
Yes, it is and the proof is the mass immigration to all the western democracies. Some people will argue that the mass immigration is economic, but they don't realize that the two are linked. It can work anywhere in the world, but it is not easy.
Mike Daly, USA
Philosophically true democracy only works in sparsely populated locations. The western-style democracy is not some sort of veiled imperialism, but rather it is an attempt at creating some stable form of government with relation to economic and technological innovations.
Cynthia, NY, USA
It's not really imperialism, because we're not imposing our will on anyone. If countries in which we install democracy then elect governments that don't agree with us, then fine. At least now the people can DECIDE whether or not they want an anti-western government rather than having it impose on them.
David Russell, UK
There is no such thing as an ideal democracy. How can something be ideal when the idea is "one man, one vote" without taking into consideration the man himself who is casting the vote. I live in Pakistan where people vote on the basis of tribe, caste, family and many other factors but the main point regarding the leader's qualities is not on that list. What if people of a country want a King will that choice be called a democracy?
Yousaf Malik, Pakistan
A western-style democracy is perhaps the best thing for all countries. It means freedom - which means that we are free to vote and to have our freedom to do what we want.
West democracy goes hand-in-hand with western culture and values, you cannot easily transfer these mores and codes of behaviour to cultures they are foreign to.
If western style democracy means US policy then I'd say no that it is not a good idea to be spreading such a democracy around the world. US policy has isolated only one extremist group - its own. Each states' democracy should be left to the will of its people, and not to the administration in London or Washington.
Alexis Windermme, London, UK
Of course democracy is good for the world. It's not an issue of culture, its a system of government. You can have an Islamic democracy, a Hindu democracy, a Christian democracy, or separation of church and state. The point is to have leaders who are held accountable to ALL of a nation's citizens - it doesn't matter how, and it doesn't involve culture. This is essential for a peaceful world.
Steve Anthony, USA