Larry Diamond in his article “Three Paradoxes of Democracy” analyzes the main problems of newly flourishing democracies all around the world. Diamond uses data from 26 developing countries to determine the main problems of democracy in this article. He claims that democracy has never been that popular and admired but it is still a very difficult task to accomplish for developing countries. According to Diamond, three main problems of a democratic regime are; the tension between conflict and consensus, representativeness against governability and consent versus effectiveness.
The first problem arising in a young democracy is the paradox between consent and effectiveness. Diamond thinks that governments especially in the third world countries are not able to accomplish broad economic or political reforms due to the short-term effects of these. Long-term reforms can be needed for a country but politicians should also think of the next elections in a democratic regime to stay at the government. Thus, they might be discouraged to make necessary reforms and the problems in this country might continue. The writer explains the failure of IMF policies in Latin American countries from this perspective and thinks that politicians could not think the benefit of the country sometimes because structural reforms that they were decided to make can create many problems for a particular group or class of the society and this means an important percentage of votes. Diamond believes that in order to get rid of this problem strong, charismatic and courageous democratic leadership is needed for a newly developing democracy.
The second problem arises between representativeness and governability. Electoral system is very important for a democracy and absolutely needed. However, countries should find a necessary electoral system to establish their democracies. Although in theory PR (Proportional Representation) system is great, it can cause political instability in many countries. PR system may often leads to coalition governments and coalitions may decrease the governability of a country. However, SMDP (Single Member District Plurality) system also can cause problems. Especially in two party systems, political party that comes to power may act independent from the wishes of people and the representativeness of the people will decrease. Democracy means rule by the people so; citizens should have effects on governmental affairs in a healthy democracy. The crucial point is to raise educated voters who will choose the best for their country’s future.
The third problem is between conflict and consensus. Democracy is based on consensus and it offers the freedom of criticizing, opposing the government. However, when the limit of opposition is not clearly defined and well balanced, it can create problems in a democracy. Conflicts sometimes may be so sharp that a country may face with chaos. So, every political actor should know the boundaries of the democratic freedom. A country must be careful about the gap between different classes and should not tolerate ideologies based on directing people from each other. When there is a conflict, all political actors should be able to give concessions to solve the problem for the country and citizens’ sake. In today’s world, all political parties should be catch-all parties and should come up with well-balanced policies that will protect the right of each segments of the society equally.,
Like Larry Diamond mentions in the article, democracy has many problems and away from being perfect. However, people’s search for a better political system should never end and democracy must be expanded and deepened.