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threats to our democracy are rife!

Living in a democracy is something many of us in the western world have taken for granted for too long. For most of us, it is something we have not had to question in our lifetime – but it has now become crystal clear that democracy is not a sure thing, but instead an aspect of our society and politics that needs active participation from us all.

Here's the thing, we too often associate democracy with presidential or prime ministerial election days; those days that come around every 4 or 5 years, or local elections that take place more frequently. But actions that require our participation as citizens of a democratic system happen on a near-daily basis.

It is now as our world seems to have veered so drastically off-course that our attention to the everyday acts of maintaining a democracy is so critical. Exercising our right as citizens is the first step to maintaining our democracies, protecting its core values such as freedom, justice and equality. Maybe above all, as we are witnessing in so many countries right now, we need to remind ourselves that democracy cannot survive without the notion of human decency.

FairPlanet's weekly roundup is about the current fragile state of our global democracies. And remember, always Read. Debate: Engage.

The good

More countries operate under a democratic system than ever

Despite the turbulent times, we're going through and that too often it feels that our leaders are far from the democratic symbol many of us wish for, the majority of the world’s countries are now democracies. The chart below, shared from the data visualisation and collection website Our World in Data, depicts the rise of the number of democracies over the last two centuries all the way up to 2018 (no data is yet available for the past two years).

"The end of World War I led to the birth of many democracies. However, during the 1930s, many of these young democracies then reverted to being autocratic," Our World in Data reports. Adding that, however, "after World War II, the number of democracies began growing again. But it was the fall of the Iron Curtain circa 1989 that led to a more dramatic increase in the number of democracies."

If there was a silver lining to the current global political situation is that, if history does indeed repeat itself, it seems that after great darkness comes great breakthrough of hope, ambition and a generation of individuals determined to change the evils behind a status quo.

Hope. It is only because we are so close to equality, freedom, inclusion and a united vision that forces are pushing us back so hard. We have hope.

The bad

technology is interfering with democracy on levels unforeseen

The Cambridge Analytica scandal was a turning point for us all. It was the final confirmation of the power tech giants have amassed; an unregulated power equivalent to that of governments, operated by entirely private enterprises. But Cambridge Analytica only scraped the very bottom of the barrel and opened the gate to an entire movement of Silicon Valley innovators, developers and founder, who have all come forward to reveal the mechanisms operating behind the scenes, and the learnings have been terrifying, to say the least. We now know that tech companies are deliberately changing how we think, feel and act; they are thriving off our addiction to social media; companies can buy our attention through advertising and target those who are most susceptible.

Founded by Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, The Center for Humane Technology (CHT) is a non-profit organisation working to transform the tech world and align technology with humans' best interest in order to preserve our democracies, protect our well-being, and tackle broader challenges facing humanity.

Find out how you can support Harris on his mission together with CHT on the link below!


Dear tech companies: protect our democracies and mental health!

by Yair Oded

The Center for Humane Technology works to change the attention-grabbing business model of tech companies and align them with humanity's best interest.
An insight into Cambridge Analytica
Our coverage of threats to democracy

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Republican and Democratic senators forge rare bi-partisan agreement to curb emissions of a dangerous pollutant.
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Democracy in Bosnian way: Dead man walking

by Katarina Panić

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, dead people voting is almost a commonplace.

How Justice Ginsburg changed America’s legal system

by Yair Oded

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg changed America's legal system by bringing men and women to an equal footing under the law.
latin america

Escazú Agreement shall gather Latin America around environmental justice

by Ellen Nemitz

Aiming for people-centred solutions grounded in nature, the agreement is hoped to help with a devastated economy and forest fires of huge dimensions.
Country focus
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Situated on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina neighbours Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro and is almost completely landlocked, despite running miles away from the coast.

Bosnia and Herzegovina was part of the Eastern bloc of Yugoslavia and is still in many ways recovering from a deadly three-year war that broke out following the collapse of the bloc in the early 1990s. While it is an independent country, Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to be partially under the oversight of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, which set up two separate entities - the Bosniak-Croat Federation and Bosnian-Serb Republic, both overarched by a federal government and rotating presidency. This has created a great divide between the Serbian and Croatian Bosnians.

This divide is reflected in the press, which operates relatively freely and under the safety of freedom of reporting and speech.