Democracy in Decline

Democracy in Decline: Steps in the Wrong Direction

Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    Democracy in Decline
    Book Description:

    Part lament, part provocative call-to-action, Democracy in Decline charts how democracy is being diluted and restricted in five of the world's oldest democracies - the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. James Allan targets four main, interconnected causes of decline - judicial activism, the transformation and growth of international law, the development of supranational organizations, and the presence of undemocratic elites. He presents a convincing argument that the same trends are occurring whether the country has a constitutional bill of rights (United States and Canada), a statutory bill of rights (the United Kingdom and New Zealand), or no bill of rights at all (Australia). Identifying tactics used by lawyers, judges, and international bureaucrats to deny that any decline has occurred, Allan looks ahead to further deterioration caused by attacks on free speech, intolerant worldviews, internationalization through treaties and conventions, and illegal immigration. Social and political decisions, Allan argues, must be based on counting every adult in a nation state as equal. An essential book for anyone concerned with majority rule and fairness in numbers, Democracy in Decline presents a clear, well-stated account of trends that have been undermining democracy over three decades.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9192-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-5)

    Let me say it again. Democracy is in decline in the Anglo-American world consisting of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The trend is bad and it needs to be reversed. We need to stop judges adopting ever more expansive and externally unconstrained approaches to interpreting key legal documents. We need to cabin the use of foreign and international law as guides to giving meaning to domestic law by those same judges. We need legislatures to think again about inserting potentially sweeping reading-down interpretive mandates (or “do everything you judges possibly can to read all other...

  5. PART ONE Countries in Decline
    (pp. 6-40)

    Anyone who looks at the constitutional arrangements of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand will see similarities, copying, a few noticeable innovations, more copying – in short, lots and lots of similarities and sameness, with a bit of difference and the odd bit of marked divergence. This may not surprise many readers as far as Britain and its former Dominions of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are concerned, though it may surprise some to learn that Australia’s founding fathers explicitly copied much from the American model. The Australians copied the American-style genuine house of review Senate, an...

  6. PART TWO Causes of Decline
    (pp. 41-127)

    My claim in this book is that democracy is in decline. Yes, the rate of descent differs in each of our five countries. No doubt, too, none had the exact same commitment to letting-the-numbers-count, majoritarian decision-making as a baseline starting point. Yet whatever the individual starting points in the governing structures of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, the scope of democratic decision-making – and the extent to which it provides the final say over contestable and debatable disagreements of policy and principle in society – has gone down in all of them in recent decades....

  7. PART THREE Complications Masking Decline
    (pp. 128-143)

    I want now to shift our focus away from the causes of democratic decline and onto the way that decline can be, and often is, masked or disguised. Some of this ground I touched on briefly at the very start of this book, in the preface. Still, it is worth returning to these tactics or ploys – be they honestly subscribed to, or not. It is worth doing so to try to answer this question: “Why isn’t the decline of democratic decision-making more widely publicized or discussed or condemned or lamented?”

    Remember, no one doubts the fact that our five...

  8. PART FOUR Challenges Threatening More Decline
    (pp. 144-159)

    It is tempting to begin this final part of the book with a few more examples of inroads into democratic decision-making in our five countries. It is so tempting, in fact, that I am unable wholly to resist. I will, though, limit myself to examples from our two biggest, most important countries, the United States and the United Kingdom.

    Start with the UK, not least because democracy is in the worst shape there of our five countries. As we have seen already, that is what happens when you opt to become a member of a supranational organization like the EU...

  9. Concluding Remarks
    (pp. 160-166)

    Let me say it one last time. Democracy is in decline in the Anglo-American rich world. We have not been considering, in this book, the accelerating intrusions into democratic decision-making in Albania, or Russia, or even Italy. No, we have been wholly focused on the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. These are the countries that lie smack dab at the heart of anyone’s list of the world’s core democracies. They are the oldest ones (with the addition of a Switzerland here or an Iceland there); they are the most stable and continuous; they are the...

  10. Suggested Further Reading
    (pp. 167-168)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 169-178)
  12. Index
    (pp. 179-182)