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Can democracy ever be ‘fully’ consolidated?

In democratic theories there is the debate whether democracy can be fully consolidated or not. There is the common argument that consolidation is possible in every democratic regime, but a ‘fully consolidation’ seems to be more unlikely.  This essay will discuss: Can democracy ever be ‘fully consolidated’?

In the last decades ‘democracy has been widely recognized as the best political regime yet invented, because its citizens are both treated with respect, dignity and have some say in political decision-making’.[1] In this sense, democracy can be consolidated, but not completely. To understand this: consolidation is seen as a scale; because of multiple different factors that are used to work out whether a democracy is consolidated or not. Therefore, it would be wrong to see democratic consolidation as a dichotomy. For example; if two democracies (A,B) were equal in almost every way sharing similar political institutions, ethnic divisions, size, region, political culture; it would be absurd to classify A as a consolidated democracy and B not just because A has more equality of wealth.  Instead a better classification would be to say that A is more consolidated than B. The bottom-line here is that, democratic consolidation is best understood as a scale; this means that for a country to be ‘fully consolidated’ it must be at the very top of the consolidation scale. Moreover, for a country to be consolidated it would have to be on balance more likely to it to remain a democracy than to revert back to a non-democracy. In this case; it could be argued that for such a state to exist is almost impossible as for it to do so all the possibly relevant factors would have to be a factor strengthening democracy or at least not weakening it. To a national level, even in Britain for example, the lack of a codified constitution, the rise of BNP and declining turnout can all be pointed to as factors which make Britain’s democracy not fully consolidated because under the right conditions they could make the UK slide into authoritarianism.  Although this is not likely the existence of these weaknesses in Britain’s democracy still mean that the UK can’t be called a fully consolidated democracy.

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