We like to believe in democracy, don’t we ? But what does democracy mean ? In its homeland of Great Britain it used to be largely made up of ‘rotten boroughs’, constituencies constructed to favour a few landowners. Even after reformation, emancipation and universal suffrage we still do not get to select the leader of our country. The country votes for a small number of Members of Parliament and they select their leader, who becomes our de facto leader.
In the US, the situation is even more arcane. People vote for a President, but then their votes are abstracted into an ‘electoral college’, of which only half are legally bound to follow the votes of their State or district. The last election saw the President loose the ‘popular vote’ by a massive three million people but still take office.
Of course, this is all laughable to countries like Russia, where the dictator running the country (with a huge amount of popular support, it has to be said) makes up his own election numbers.
And in many places, there are good reasons not to elect a leader by majority vote, countries that have significant minority populations, for example: this has resulted in horrible conflict in countries ranging from Fiji to Rwanda to Sudan.
Polemicism is on the rise – tribalism will always exist. But we live in an information age where the political models of the industrial era need overhauling.