Tailor political system to unique conditions

A yellow vest protester raises his fist during an anti-government demonstration called by the "Yellow Vest" movement in Lille, northern France on March 2, 2019.
A yellow vest protester raises his fist during an anti-government demonstration called by the "Yellow Vest" movement in Lille, northern France on March 2, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

I refer to the commentary by editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang (Democracy in crisis? It's the next disruption, March 3).

The world has witnessed great social upheaval in Europe and the United States, where the electorate increasingly feels disenchanted with the political system.

Many have taken to the streets to voice their anger.

Much of this can, perhaps, be attributed to entrenched political systems, such as the two-party systems of Conservative and Labour in the United Kingdom and Republican and Democrat in the US.

Arguably, disparate views cannot be neatly represented by just two parties.

In Germany, there is the need to form a coalition government with no party winning a clear majority vote.

Could this, then, be the new prevailing trend in democracy?

The traditional role of the free press as the fourth estate is also changing, with organisations being just as polarised as the general public.

The partisan slant in their coverage is perhaps best exemplified in the divide between CNN and Fox News. This may be adding to the discord in an already fragmented society.

Is populism a bad form of democracy, given that it fulfils the basic tenet of "majority wins" in an election?

Brexit is a case in point.

The pro-Brexit camp won by a slim margin, and look where that has led the UK. Even Prime Minister Theresa May's own party is showing fractures.

Democracy may be metamorphosing into a new form, which we are about to witness. It may be a signal to overhaul the entrenched system.

Freedom, when taken to the extreme, will lead only down the path of hubris.

Many in the West may not agree, but it is now not unfathomable to consider one-party systems, such as the one in China.

It has delivered high economic growth rates, despite little mass political participation.

It has proven that democracy is not a condition for economic development, and has shown that a gainfully employed populace is the best way to maintain social harmony.

All this reminds us that we should tailor our political system to our own unique conditions, lest we be led astray by the democracy we hold dear.

Lee Teck Chuan