Is Russia less democratic than the EU?
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It’s odd how even the harshest dictatorships like to maintain the outward forms of democracy. Russia has just conducted an election that must have reminded some elderly voters of Soviet times: everyone knew the result in advance, but it was still necessary to go through the rigmarole of ballot boxes, declarations and so on.

Riot police in Moscow arrest opposition supporters

Belarus, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Tajikistan, even China: all like to coat their autocracy with a patina of parliamentary rule. Of 198 territories in the world (counting Kosovo), only ten don’t call themselves democracies: Swaziland, Bhutan, the Vatican and a handful of Gulf monarchies.

Yet at the same time, real democracy is in retreat. It is in retreat in the West because elected representatives are losing ground to quangoes and Eurocrats; it is losing ground in the Muslim world because we continue to prop up tyrants on the “he may be a son-of-a-bitch but he’s our son-of-a-bitch” principle (Karimov, the House of Saud etc). It is losing ground in South America for reasons this blog has pondered at great length (not that anyone seems to care much about South America). And it is losing ground globally as a network of human rights charters and international courts override legitimate governments.

You think I’m exaggerating? Then watch in a few hours time as our MPs vote to deny us the referendum they all promised at the last election. Or watch as the Eurocrats disregard the “No” votes and push ahead with a constitution they knows their peoples would reject. Before you pour out your pity on the Russians, consider what is happening at home.

by Daniel Hannan

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