Archive for May 12th, 2013

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Democracy, tolerance and habit – The Ternopil Incident

May 12, 2013

We often read about democracy through the lenses freedom of speech/expression, rule of law, human rights, or free and fair elections, or political responsiveness to the public, accountability, transparency etc –  and rightly so – they are all necessarily required for an effective democracy.

But democracy is a very complex structure, and a list of its defining features would be very lengthy indeed.

Less often do we read about democracy needing to be habitual and tolerant.

For any democracy to consolidate there are numerous factors of course, but habit and tolerance are extremely important ingredients – not just recognised and mutually assured by and between the political elite, but also by the society which underpin any democracy if it is ever to consolidate.

It is far easier to change the habits and tolerances of a political party, or the political strata, than it is to change the habits and tolerances of society quickly.

If a political party or the political elite generally, are institutionalised, complex and coherent then internal change is swift – at least in comparison to the speed of societal change, more often than not.

Thus democratic habit and tolerances need to be clearly and robustly displayed amongst the political elite, consistently and over an extended period of time to assist in any changing of societal habit and tolerance.

Democracy after all, is a system in a state of continual friction between opposing/differing ideas, policies, ideologies etc.  Thus it demands tolerance for it to work effectively.  It demands habit for longevity and consolidation.

It is therefore very sad to read that apparently Svoboda MPs and party officials were at the forefront of what is most definitely a display of intolerance during the Ternipol Victory Day celebrations, that according to the account in the link above, prevented veterans from marking the end of WWII with any  degree of reverence and dignity – as those across the rest of European continent and Ukraine managed to do, if they so wished.

Perhaps of even greater sadness following this incident, there are as yet no words of condemnation from the Svoboda leadership, or the other parties in the opposition coalition with Svoboda – all of whom – including Svoboda – claim to be the “democratic opposition” and/or fighting for a democratic Ukraine.

Perhaps it is necessary to point out to the opposition parties of Ukraine, that in a democratic Ukraine, old men and women would be free to mark the end of WWII with dignity and reverence – whether they like them doing so or not!

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