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Anne Brasseur: “Democracy is not a luxury, it is a necessity”

On the occasion of the International day of democracy, Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has declared:

“Today, I would like to recall three things about democracy that we sometimes seem to forget even in Europe. First, democracy is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Too often we hear that this model of governance can only be afforded and achieved by a few countries thanks to their exceptional historical and cultural background or economic wealth. But let us not forget that democracy is before all the most effective means of popular control over those who hold power, a tool which allows peaceful removal of political leaders who are incompetent, corrupt or no longer connected to citizens’ aspirations.

Second, democracy should not be mistakenly confused with tyranny of the majority or with populist dictatorship. True democracy cannot exist without the rule of law, human rights and respect of minorities. Solidarity and inclusiveness are cornerstones of democracy, and we should be particularly aware of this in the present context, when some politicians choose the easy way of populism by blaming minorities and spreading hatred.

Third, democracy is not only about holding a vote every couple of years; it is an everyday commitment. It requires continuous struggle and active citizen participation in public debate and public affairs. Therefore, on this International day of democracy I would also like to pay tribute to those civil society activists who make democracy work, and particularly to those who find themselves behind bars for having peacefully fought for our common values.”

The International Day of Democracy was established by the UN General Assembly’s resolution A/62/7 in 2007.