CAMBIOColombia, April 11, 2024


(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

In the forum “Imagine Democracy”, organized by CAMBIO, the attorney, researcher at DeJusticia, and columnist Rodrigo Uprimny, was referring to the factors that undermine democracy in a country. 

In the forum entitled “How to Imagine Democracy”, organized by the Sura Group and CAMBIO, Rodrigo Uprimny, attorney, researcher at DeJusticia, and columnist, affirmed that statistics are demonstrating that democracy in the world is passing through difficult times.

“But one good sign is that one of the few countries that have passed from a precarious democracy to a full democracy has been Colombia, because we allowed ourselves to alter our government from a right wing administration to a left wing administration, and nothing happened. There was no assault as on the United States Capitol building, there was no assault as in Brasilia. Here, the only thing that happened was that Petro told them to bring to him the Sword of Bolivar,” the lawyer and researcher said.

In that sense, Uprimny pointed out that just as there can be deterioration in democracy, it “resists, and can be reinvigorated”.

On the other hand, Uprimny stated that one of the principal problems of democracy right now is those same democratic methods. How can that be?

“Now there aren’t that many coups d’etat, but rather there are methods that appear to be democratic but are eroding democracies,” he explained.

According to Uprimny, when that happens, “you start to see a President who is immensely popular start to destroy judicial independence, because he says the judges don’t respond to the people. Then he uses a Court that’s coopted to make his re-election permanent, and that’s how he does away with liberties and enthrones an authoritarian regime,” he pointed out.

Polarization and democracy

Rodrigo Uprimny also pointed out that democracy usually has a polarizing dynamic.

“Because in a democracy I have to win an election over somebody else, and if I have to win the election over someone, then I have to say that person is a disaster (. . .) So there is a dynamic in democracy that tends to generate a certain polarization,” he said.

In that sense, he added, “In Latin America and the United States, the Presidential system is a system that sharpens polarization, and it does that much more than in the European parliamentary systems, because here it’s on the President alone; if he won by one vote, he took the whole executive branch of government with him. It’s not that way in a parliamentary system with multiple parties; there I have to consider the coalition.”

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