4.c.13 – Is the alternation a negation of democracy?

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June 7, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

Is the alternation a negation of democracy?

We have shown that the parliamentary system naturally tends to degenerate into power systems that are not democratic, without the population noticing it. While in dictatorships the power that is embodied in one person is exalted, false democracies enhance the distribution of power in the political class; this way, two advantages are obtained: the first is that it creates the illusion of democracy; the second is that every politician is reassured that he will maintain its share of power. Although the politicians belong to different parties, among which there is no lack of strong rivalries, both external and internal, they form a well-defined group, compact and separate from the rest of the population, as they have many interests in common:
– the maintenance and legitimation of the political system which is the origin of their power
– the coverage of the corruption at the root of their funding, either they are lawful or not
– the defense against any new rivals, namely the need to avert a political replacement.
The combination of these interests leads to a common conviction of the abstentionism, which is presented as a danger to the nation and governance, though this is blatantly false: there is no numerical threshold to be overcome to make the elections valid, even the 10% of people could form a complete parliament and all remaining activities of the State could continue without the slightest disturbance. It would be instead very limited the popular legitimacy of the system and any new party obtaining the support of 6% of the population would have the majority and would make a significant political turnover. The necessary complicity creates an esprit de corps and a climate of silence that unites government and opposition; on issues such as the control of the media, the funding of political parties or the barrier thresholds to exclude smaller parties, the major political forces easily find an agreement by acting as a single party. The strong rivalry encourages first the formation of coalitions to survive and to be able to participate in government, then real mergers are created to reach a stable equilibrium with only two remaining parties that alternate in government. It is to be noted that the rivalry is only electoral and not political, because the policy is determined according to the interests of their powerful supporters or donors, sometimes common to both sides, who always remain in power whatever the outcome of the elections is.
The bipartisanism and the alternation represent the greatest safety for the politicians: two giant parties make prohibitive the hypothesis that a small party could oust them; is much easier to agree and divide the cake into two rather than into four or five; finally, the alternation excludes the possibility of a genuine political replacement, which is the first requirement of an indirect democracy. A system that provides political alternation can in no way be defined as democratic, also it is too easy for two parties to find a political agreement and govern as a single entity, maintaining a formal division and pretend to be rivals, to simulate the possibility of a choice to the unaware citizen.
Parties are indeed private associations whose internal organization is generally not democratic: they are the equivalent of the family clan of the old aristocratic class, whose life, like that of parties, was marked by strong rivalries and continual alliances. The traditional party structure is of patronage type, where the success of ideas and internal careers are decided from above; in fact there is a considerable use of demagoguery, or the art of deceiving the public, even in respect of party members. How can we hope to achieve democracy through political parties, if they do not even use it within themselves? The facts confirm that they also transmit to their institutions their non democratic mentality. 

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