Democracy becomes a majority regime; If the trend does not reverse, it will collapse: Shuja Shakir

New Delhi: An online conference on “The Emergence of Majority Democracy” was recently organized by the Institute for Objective Studies.

The lecture was given by Shuja Shakir, Professor, Department of Political Science, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad, Maharashtra.

Professor Shuja Shakir said that democracy is becoming majority rule. If this trend was not reversed, it would collapse.

Explaining his view, he said democracy was majority rule and was meant to operate within certain philosophical and constitutional constraints that prevented it from violating minority rights. In all nations, democracy was the most popular form of government and one of the reasons for this was the belief that democracy could not become anti-people. It was a system chosen and built by the people themselves. Over the years, however, growing competitiveness between democratic forces has transformed the ecosystem of parliamentary democracy into majoritarian democracy, with the result that majority rule has come to mean the exclusion of minorities, he said. he commented.

Professor Shakir continued that democracy was the form of governance where the will of the majority was decisive. Democracy with a good majority was acceptable, but today our democratic values ​​are being challenged.

He said the main driver of majoritarian democracy was political leadership that thrived on polarization and gullible voters who ended up electing them based on false promises. Some scholars like Levitsky and Ziblatt had argued that mainstream democracy tendencies could soon herald the end of democracy, like an autoimmune disease, where the internal system of the human body begins to attack healthy cells. He argued that the fear of democracy turning into a majoritarian system was rational, but not always realistic because of the inherent inconsistencies in the idea of ​​”community” cohesion.

He insisted that the traditional notion of community constituted by the unity of race, religion, culture or caste had been seriously challenged by the resurgence of multicultural “salad” societies, comprising an assortment of races, cultures and religions. He said that while the trajectories of modern democracies seemed to foreground the ethnicization of their politics, this did not constitute a full-fledged ethnicization of communities as a whole. A perfectly united community, if there was one, seemed real only in the realm of the imagination.

Professor Shakir pointed out that several books on state democracy were written in 2019. Some of them dealt with liberal democracy obituaries. Referring to the internal threat to democracy, he said that democracy is sick because the majority population has distanced itself from majority politics. Today, voters exercise their right to vote on the basis of the identity of a candidate. He argued that the Modi government was emerging as a majority government. What would be the reaction of minorities if the majority justified its thinking in a majority state, he sought to find out. Checks and balances and constitutional guarantees worked through institutions, which were manipulated by rulers. He called it the tyranny of democracy. He said that Gandhiji was opposed to democracy for fear that it would not work in India. Many countries have now become multicultural with several ethnic communities. Migrants, ethnic, racial and religious communities demanded the protection of their cultural rights. He observed that some scholars were skeptical of the majority undoing democracy. At the same time, some scholars have questioned why the right people don’t govern democracy. This trend is growing in Europe and America, he noted.

Professor Shakir said that if people were asked what kind of society and democracy they wanted, they would answer the question only after someone dictated answers to them. Each leader talked about well-being and development, but later changed and did the opposite. It became authoritarian and restricted civil liberties.

He said some Western scholars predicted the end of democracy. There was no doubt that democracy was weakening. Despite all its weaknesses, democracy was going nowhere. He ruled out the possibility of democracy reaching its impasse. He also felt that majority rule would not last long.

The evils that tormented democracy were curable. One of the reasons for this conclusion was that people voted individually; they did not vote collectively. Thus, individual rankings cannot be qualified as collective. People preferred or were concerned about individual benefits. He believed that democracy would survive because the society we lived in was not cohesive in social and political areas. He dismissed the perception that Scheduled Castes and Muslims were united.

Professor Shakir cited the case of Maharashtra where several castes were lumped together with scheduled castes but they were not cohesive as a community. In this regard, the Muslims were also not consistent. Referring to data released by the Election Commission of India, he said Muslim turnout in the elections had been low. There was virtually no difference in the pattern of participation between majority and minorities. To back up his point, he argued that while 31% of Hindus voted for the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the party’s vote share in the 2019 elections was 37%.

In his presidential remarks, Professor Arshi Khan, Professor of Political Science, AMU, said there was a big challenge to democracy in America. Likewise, democracy is in reverse in France, but it goes without saying that democracy is the most important system of governance. He observed that India was a representative and participatory democracy. He had a symmetrical federalism. In this regard, he referred to the state of Nagaland, which had special powers. He argued that this protected democracy.