World News
25 Oct 2018

Declining Interest in Traditional Democracy

Where once most Americans believed living in a democracy was vitally important, now only a third of millenials share that belief.

The idea of traditional democracy has been one that has lived in many people's hearts as an ideal form of government since WWII. As time has passed and generations have existed without any real threat to their safety, and democratic economies have stagnated, many people's attachment to the idea of democracy has dwindled. The percentage of people who say it is essential to live in a liberal democracy is plummeting, everywhere from the US to the Netherlands.

  • In a recent poll, only 30 per cent of Americans born in the 1980s believe that living in a democracy is essential, compared to 72 per cent of Americans born in the 1930s
  • Participation in civic groups and organizations of all kinds has declined greatly in the last decades of the 20th century
  • Since the early 1990s, votes for populists have soared in most major Western democracies, whether the National Front in France or the People's Party in Denmark
  • Twitter, Facebook and other platforms have accelerated public discourse - rewarding inflammatory opinions, spreading misinformation and highlighting difference
  • Americans on both the left and right now view their political opponents not as fellow Americans with differing views but as enemies to be vanquished

We are currently living in a time where groups on both sides of many issues feel under attack - women and men; minorities and whites; conservatives and liberals; working class and elites - with everyone pitted against each other in a fight to win. Complex issues are being oversimplified to create polarity. Fighting has taken the place of listening and understanding. Passion is running the show instead of reason.

Can democratic institutions reclaim reasoned discourse in a social media infused environment of quick judgements, misinformation and polarizing opinions? Is Western democracy the main reason many countries experienced economic prosperity in the past as many assumed? Is this just the end of the third wave of democracy - an inevitable part of a global ebb and flow of political systems? What effect will the declining interest in democracy have on the markets? And, most importantly, if people aren't interested in democracy what are they interested in?

If you're interested in future-casting and thought-fuelled conversation, you should join us for Outlook 2019. Attendees of Outlook get our wholly independent interpretation on the state of the world markets as well as guidance on investment strategies. Hope to see you there.


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