In recent years, populism has taken the world by storm. While riding populist waves seems very much democratic, after all democracy is government founded on popular assent, populism has turned out to be a dark lord. Its pundits and beneficiaries once in government have turned to misuse and abuse power on grounds that they have the blessings of the population.
Not even two of the world’s oldest English-speaking democracies, Britain and America, have been spared. Populism in these countries, led by Boris Johnson and the eccentric Donald Trump respectively, has however, been an eye-opener. According to a really interesting article from Democracy Digest, populism in Britain and America has “exposed deep flaws in [the] constitutional systems of these two nations” often seen as the most solid in the world.
William A. Galston, the Ezra K. Zilkha Chair in the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program notes that Attending to these defects should be an urgent order of business in both nations… Despite the differences between their constitutional systems, both the U.K. and the U.S. are learning the same lesson.” Galston, “a former National Endowment for Democracy board member” stated that,
The formal features of governmental power cannot fully define its exercise. We assume that those who hold power will wield it within certain uncodified normative limits. Yes, the British government has the power, with the queen’s assent, to adjourn Parliament. But no one imagined that a prime minister would do so for five weeks at the climax of a wrenching national debate, just as no one in the U.S. imagined that a president would declare steel imported from Canada a threat to national security… Assuming these crises resolve with democracy intact, both countries will have some hard thinking to do about the fundamentals of their governance”.
See full story here.