The Death of Democracy in Europe: Will Disillusioned Citizens Turn Away from EU Parliament Elections?

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The Death of Democracy in Europe: Will Disillusioned Citizens Turn Away from EU Parliament Elections?
The Death of Democracy in Europe: Will Disillusioned Citizens Turn Away from EU Parliament Elections?

By: A. Mahdavi



As the European Parliament elections draw near, European politicians are redoubling their efforts to boost voter turnout. They seek to stoke enthusiasm and inspire European citizens to participate in the democratic process by emphasizing the importance of their voices. However, surveys suggest that Europeans are growing disillusioned with democracy, casting doubt on the effectiveness of these efforts.



Democracy Perception Index: Public Trust in Decline



The Democracy Perception Index (DPI), the world's largest survey on democracy, recently polled 63,000 people from 53 countries, including 15 EU member states. The survey, conducted between February and April of this year, revealed a concerning decline in support for democratic institutions in the West.



This decline is particularly pronounced in Greece, France, and Hungary. In Hungary, only 31% of respondents believe their country is democratic. This dissatisfaction stems from ongoing disputes with the European Union over the rule of law and European values. The EU's suspension of part of Hungary’s budget has further exacerbated tensions. These events, coupled with the war in Ukraine, have fueled a sense of disillusionment among Hungarians.



Greece, the birthplace of democracy, has also experienced a significant erosion of democratic sentiment. Only 43% of Greeks consider their country democratic. In recent years, Greece has faced scrutiny from the EU over its handling of immigration, its crackdown on media freedom, and the prosecution of government critics. Earlier this year, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning Greece's backsliding on the rule of law and demanding a review of EU aid to the country. Greece, struggling to recover economically and grappling with the migrant crisis, has sought support from the EU but has encountered increased pressure to uphold democratic principles. This tension has further eroded public trust in Greece's democratic institutions.



France, too, has seen a decline in democratic satisfaction, with only 46% of respondents expressing confidence in their country's democratic system. Police brutality and President Macron's pension reforms have sparked widespread discontent. French citizens perceive democratic values as being manipulated by politicians for their own agendas.



A Growing Chasm Between Citizens and Governments



Across Europe, citizens are expressing dissatisfaction with their governments. They perceive a growing disconnect between their own aspirations and the policies pursued by their leaders. This disconnect is particularly acute in Germany, where the gap between public opinion and government action is widening.



This alienation has the potential to fuel radical and anti-democratic movements. As citizens become disillusioned with mainstream politics, they may turn to extremist groups that offer simple solutions to complex problems. This trend could further accelerate the decline of democracy in Europe.



Europe's Democratic Decline: A Threat to Western Civilization?



Europe's decline in democratic values poses a grave threat not only to the European project but to the nature of Western democracy itself. If Europe, the world's largest democracy, loses its commitment to democratic principles, it will suffer a devastating blow to its credibility.



Moreover, this decline undermines the very foundation of Western democracy, which is predicated on the concept of liberal democratic identity. The erosion of democratic principles in Europe calls into question the viability of this model, with potentially dangerous consequences for the future of the West.



Compounding this crisis is the perception of double standards in Western policies, which has further eroded public trust in governments. Citizens feel that their leaders are not acting in their best interests, leading to a growing sense of alienation and disillusionment.



If Western governments fail to address the underlying causes of democratic decline and restore public trust, the future of democracy in the West is at stake. Without a renewed commitment to democratic values and a rejection of double standards, Europe and the West face an existential crisis that could threaten the very foundations of their societies.



Conclusion



As the European Parliament elections approach, the growing disillusionment with democracy among European citizens poses a significant challenge to the future of the European project. Politicians must address the underlying causes of this decline, such as economic inequality, social injustice, and the erosion of democratic institutions. Failure to do so will further erode public trust and empower anti-democratic forces, threatening the very foundations of European democracy.
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