Democrat November-December 2011 (Number 126)
Dare less democracy
Political circles in Germany are discussing ways and means of reducing democracy including role of the national parliament (Reichstag).
Edited report by German Foreign Correspondents
“Dare Less Democracy” pleading for a transition to “less democracy” has been published by one of the most influential German newspapers, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . The "voice of the people" has a too "paralyzing influence" on current affairs states the blurb for the book . The author demands the system be corrected for "more efficient policy making" which includes dismantling democratic participation.
The author Laszlo Trankovits is the bureau chief and correspondent of the Deutsche Presse Agentur in South Africa and had previously worked for DPA in Washington as its "White House correspondent". The book title hints at social modernisation introduced in the 1960s and often described with the demand to "Dare More Democracy", a formulation by Chancellor Willy Brandt (SPD) in a 1969 government declaration.
Tarnkovits opposes “...More Democracy” and claims politicians and the economy are presently faced with enormous problems that would only worsen with demands for popular participation.
He implies that frequent elections increase pressure on politicians, who, out of fear of losing elections, avoid painful social cuts. Revelations on the internet, such as those by WikiLeaks, are exacerbating the policy making problems. "The functioning and efficiency of a society, state and economy" are threatened, if "everyone can have their say and participate in everything." It is therefore necessary to "debate how the systems of leadership, planning and shaping the future can continue to function." But this will conflict with "political correctness," which "usually" proscribes "all demands ... for a moderate limitation of participation and transparency."
Fewer Elections, More Power
Trankovits is publicly calling for means of reducing democratic participation in Germany and demands: "Fewer elections, longer legislative periods" and for the government "more centralization, more concentration of power, more control."
Referring to the Federal Constitutional Court repeatedly summoned on the constitutionality of new laws, Trankovits writes: "The increasing involvement of the Constitutional Court is heading in the wrong direction."
Rather than democratic participation, "Governance" needs "competence, decisiveness and leadership." It should never be suggested that a "democratic society can do away with inequality and establish social justice." Trankovits, a member of the elitist Rotary-Club, demands that the elite clearly "commits itself to capitalism and profit," and that "intelligent forms of public relations" be used to communicate policy measures to the population. However, the demand for more "transparency" is "counterproductive and paralyzing" for any "governance efficiency" and must be rejected.
Feelings of Superiority
The call to dismantle democratic participation must obviously be seen in light of the West's loss of global influence to China's advantage. Trankovits explains that "German top managers ... Are often ravished, when they speak of China's huge development leaps." In "western democracies" we are accustomed to "years, if not decades of debate on the construction of a new power plant, airport or railway station." China's economic success causes "doubts about democracy's superiority" and the "traditional feelings of superiority held by democrats" is dwindling. This will spur efforts to reshape western societies, so they can take back the leadership in global competition.
A Bit of Dictatorship
All this corresponds to a review published in the periodical "Internationale Politik" last year. The review explained that China's economic boom "has reignited the competition of systems". "Managers and industrialists" hope the dismantlement of democratic participation will enhance "their opportunities". In their discussions, the elites are particularly bemoaning the inertia of democratic procedures and "the lack of a selection of political personnel". This induces a wish for "conceptualization of pertinent, depoliticized, bureaucratic procedure" and for "a bit of dictatorship".
Berlin's establishment is discussing dictatorial methods. The key Nazi jurist, Carl Schmitt, differentiated between provisional and sovereign dictatorships, "If there is various talk of dictatorial powers and measures today, it is usually in the sense of what Schmitt referred to as a provisional dictatorship," and recognizing certain problems where "... no constitutional institution is prepared to take the risk of installing a provisional dictator."
"Dare Less Democracy" has been heavily promoted by papers and public broadcasting stations. Influential circles of the German elite for some time have demanded that democracy in Germany be dismantled. The book will bring this debate to a broader public and indicates this must be opposed.
See full text at German Foreign Policy website (20.9.11)