• By: Awrang Khan

In a world where governance takes diverse forms, a closer look at the success stories and pitfalls of democracies sparks crucial debates on effective leadership. Japan stands strong with Western democracy, China thrives under a one-party system, and Singapore embraces the governance of a single leader. Yet, the resilience of these models raises questions about the challenges faced by democracies worldwide.

American scholars Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, in their book ‘How Democracies Die?,’ dissect the demise of democracies during the Cold War, pointing fingers at elected leaders who undermine the very institutions that brought them to power. Their analysis reveals a common thread – a systematic dismantling of crucial institutions, starting with the judiciary, national security agencies, and law enforcement.

Dictatorial rulers, whether military or civilian, follow a playbook that includes rewriting constitutions, postponing elections, suppressing liberties, and branding opposition as enemies. The authors emphasize that defending the constitution is not just the judiciary’s duty; political parties and civic groups must play a role in candidate selection and monitoring.

The exploration of President Trump’s ascent to power serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities within democratic systems. The erosion of checks and balances, judiciary intimidation, and media manipulation expose the fragility of democratic institutions under relentless pressure.

The authors advocate for attitudes of mutual tolerance and institutional forbearance among politicians, stressing that democratic survival hinges on fostering a balance of power rather than coercion. As nations grapple with internal strife and political maneuvering, the question looms: Will the relentless subversion among constitutional institutions strengthen or weaken the democratic fabric?

Amid ongoing challenges, including attempts to divide the Supreme Court and parliamentary defiance of judicial orders, attention turns to the resilience of constitutional institutions. Can the judiciary withstand pressures from Parliament without compromising its autonomy? Will transparent and free elections, the bedrock of democracy, weather the storm of a divided legislature?

As the global landscape evolves, the urgent call to strengthen, not weaken, civilian constitutional institutions reverberates. The world watches closely as nations navigate the delicate balance between power and responsibility, seeking insights that will shape the future of democracy. The story of democracy unfolds, with each chapter revealing lessons for nations willing to learn from the successes and pitfalls of their counterparts.

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