Does democracy produce worse government than

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Does democracy produce worse government than

Lutz and Brenda J.

The world looks like it’s getting worse. Here’s why it’s not.

Lutz Abstract It has been suggested that democratic political systems provide greater opportunities for terrorist groups and create permissive environments in which terrorist networkscan operate more easily. While the argument has a solid logical grounding that has been widely accepted, empirical tests of the connection between democracy and terrorism have been few and not very comprehensive in scope.

The analysis below will consider the relationship between the degree of openness democracy and international terrorist activity from to in approximately countries.


The results should shed light on whether democratic political systems actually contribute to the activities of terrorist groups. Terrorism and Democratic Systems Although there is no commonly accepted definition of terrorism, there has been widespread agreement on many of its key characteristics.

Terrorism consists of the use of violence or the threat of violence by an organized group to attain political objectives. The victims of terrorism are important as a means for influencing a wider target audience.

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The victims are normally civilians because attacks on them increase the impact of the violence on the target audiences. Terrorism is also a weapon of the weak. Groups that are able to obtain their desired political objectives by other means such as victory in an election, intra-elite maneuverings, military coups, bribery, rebellion, or civil war, are much less likely to rely on terrorism as the primary means of trying to achieve their goals.

The last characteristic is that terrorism involves non-governmental actors on at least one side. Either the targets, or the terrorists, and sometimes both are non-governmental actors.

These most repressive systems have been relatively free of such terrorist activity. They do not have to worry about collecting evidence for a trial or presenting credible or compelling evidence. They can also use more extreme methods of interrogation or even threaten family members as a means of gaining leverage with suspects.

The security services in Nazi Germany proved to be quite capable of dealing with opponents by using such techniques.

Does democracy produce worse government than

The KGB in the Soviet Union was also notoriously effective in dealing with dissidents or presumed dissidents, and outbreaks of terrorism were noticeably absent in the Soviet Union before its collapse. Terrorist actions were also few in numbers in Saddam Hussein's Iraq under the Ba'ath regime.

By contrast, the break-up of the Soviet Union and the end of the Ba'athist regime in Iraq have been accompanied by noticeable increases in terrorist activity. However, the absence of terrorism in the totalitarian societies does not mean that democracies are uniquely vulnerable.

Weaker states of all types have provided opportunities for terrorism, including weaker authoritarian states. The states formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the current Iraqi government qualify as weaker states compared to their predecessors and also as political systems currently in transition or at least in transition in the recent past.

Societies in transition from a non-democratic regime to a democratic government may be particularly vulnerable since the grip of the old security forces on society is diminished while the new freedoms provide opportunities for violent dissidents.

Democracies are by definition more open politically, and there are protections that come with respect for civil liberties. Furthermore, restrictions on surveillance and investigations by the security forces and police agencies are in force. Weaker intelligence gathering capabilities mean that the ability to pre-empt terrorist groups before they strike is more limited.

Excerpts from the book On Democracy by Robert A. Dahl

Moreover, democracies also have relatively weaker control of their borders, thereby providing opportunities for in- and ex-filtration. Moreover, even when terrorists are arrested, there are usually limits to the length of detention and clear limits on the mechanisms that can be used in the interrogation of suspects.

In democracies, suspects are generally given fair trials and have the opportunity of gaining an acquittal if the evidence is insufficient or poorly presented.

Democracies also provide opportunities for terrorist groups since the presence of a free press provides opportunities for greater publicity that permits groups to reach their target audiences more easily. More disturbing for the authorities but useful to terrorist groups is the fact that the media have been quite important in carrying messages about terrorism that can encourage more political violence.

In his study, Engene concluded that political openness facilitated terrorism in Western Europe.democracies produce worse QoG than older ones (Keefer ). In sum, the general idea in the literature is that partial or young democracies perform worse than authoritarian regimes and.

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So the vote is the ultimate form of equal political power. And if it were the only form of political power, our democracy would not be in so much trouble.

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