What makes for a successful and thriving democracy?

I picked up this gif on Google Plus a few days ago. If you look at the detail you’ll see there’s plenty to argue about, but it seems to me that’s what makes it worth sharing. What do we consider needs to be present to consider a country to be democratic?

The first and most obvious are the settled condition under which people are happy to offer themselves for public service:

But what else?


  • BarneyT

    I find it hard to believe that northern Ireland democracy bedded in before the Republic. Then again there are so many facets to democracy

  • Politico68

    What makes for a successful and thriving democracy? –

    No unionists

  • Mick Fealty

    Barney, those anomalies are worth picking out, and highlighting. Reasons?

  • Mick,
    I suppose the inclusions depend on the definition of democracy. For those in the 19th century it would probably be defined as universal adult male suffrage or at least universal white adult male suffrage. After 1920s as universal adult suffrage, etc. If the U.S. were broken into sections, the South would have remained white rather than blue until the mid-1960s, missing the 1962 cutoff.

    Why does your map skip from 1902 to 1962 with nothing in between? If it did you would see a number of South American countries going back and forth as they lacked stable democracies and had histories of regular military interventions in which the military was considered almost a political party that alternated in power with the two or three main political parties. .

  • I think that one of the characteristics is a high turnout at elections. I would suggest 75% but then, unfortunately , most “western” type democracies don’t come even close.

  • BarneyT

    The right to vote is important but is that all that democracy offers? I like the checks and balances that a referendum can offer and Ireland embraces this well. Perhaps critical services and the direction taken can be addressed in this manner too. Health, education, infrastructure etc…services we all need should be addressed as single issue discussions rather than being consumed and obscured within a party manifesto.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m interested because as part of some work I’m doing for the Building Change Trust, I’m going to be reporting from Dublin on a conference on Open Government Partnership…

    Open government has not been the traditional model, but it is being pressed for right across Europe now as an essential part of the democratic deal…

    I think some of the crises around democracy and government have been increased demands for such innovations and disturbance when people like whistleblowers respond to the denial of such broad demands…

  • Kensei

    The write to vote isn’t sufficient. Traditionally you’ve also required independent courts and a variety of freedoms. The US Bill of Rights come close.

    Mick I’d say the push for open democracy is going hand in hand (or is a reaction to) democratic governments becoming much more intrusive into the private lives of their citizens than has traditionally been the case. The government holds a lot of statistics it didn’t or couldn’t previously, and technology has enabled more monitoring and close tabulating. That goes from things as simple as CCTV and speed cameras, to various records and transaction data to snooping on phine records.

    the process of government may well work better if it is a little cloudy. That is also probably true of private lives.

  • cynic2

    “What makes for a successful and thriving democracy? –

    No unionists”

    Aye….they keep coal in the bath you know. Nice to see racism is alive and well in our universities

  • cynic2

    Is the fundamental question not, what is Government for?

    Until you decide that how its delivered is impossible to judge