The Basics of Democracy: 3. Inclusiveness

It could be easy to think that a legitimate governance plus a number of accountability channels give, as a result, a real democratic system. And it is so, impossible to deny.

Unfortunately, it is so in a utopian world, where citizens are really equal. Equality is a precondition to making each vote count and each trial be fair, to give everybody the same opportunities to access democratic rights and to see guaranteed their civil rights. Alas, formal equality isn’t enough and substantial equality is far from being the reality, so we need inclusiveness.

Inclusiveness is the specific target to include citizens into the channels of participatory democracy or to help them access the accountability channels. Without a specific commitment to inclusiveness, the processes to make international organizations legitimate and accountable will remain the privilege of a white, English-speaking elite, with high academic qualifications, connected to the internet. Just have a look at most of the civil society active at the global level and you will see it.

It is OK. I don’t want to delegitimize the civil society active on the global stage or underestimate its precious (invaluable!) avant-garde role. But, after the avant-garde -better soon than late- I hope to see a more diverse, multicultural civil society, really representative of the world pluralism.

A substantial -and not merely formal- democracy requires specific tools for inclusiveness aimed at stimulating the widest possible participation.

Where to start from? Let’s start from formal equality where it is still needed: gender equality (and the right to education for boys and girls), equality before the law, equality no matter the sexual orientation, the ethnicity, the origins and the life conditions.

But then, let’s move to substantial equality: fundamental rights, civil rights, political rights, rights to access and participation. We’ll discover easily that on the side of substantial equality there is still much to do almost everywhere. Nothing seems more difficult than guaranteeing equality before international organizations where we see further obstacles. This implies: overcoming the gap known as the digital divide, both in cultural as well as in infrastructural terms; going beyond the obvious barriers that stem from cultural and linguistic diversity, reaching minorities and disadvantaged groups; overcoming national barriers which may be the result of some governments’ obstructionism. A cultural engagement, here, should go hand in hand with a conspicuous economic investment and with specific strategies.

This point would deserve to be listed among the sustainable development goals…

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