The power of civil society needs to be harnessed to reverse the anti-democratic trend. Photo from Women's March in Washington DC, October 2020. Photo: Mobilus In Mobili (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Chronicle

Trust and confidence are crucial to strengthening democracy

Democracy is on the decline in the world, and the global health crisis created by the corona pandemic poses further challenges. This was discussed during the seminar "Democracy, human rights and the pandemic - impact and opportunities", organized by International IDEA.

A common thread ran through IDEA's livestreamed conversations - the importance of trust and confidence. If we succeed in strengthening these values, a democratic society can emerge stronger from the crisis.

During the pandemic, it has become clear that people are drawn to security and predictability. Kevin Casas-Zamorra, Secretary General of International IDEA, calls this "fear of uncertainty" - fear of uncertainty. He believes that the state's capacity is crucial to reduce fear. The state's capacity means how well institutions such as welfare, administration, the rule of law and tax collection work. If these institutions work well, confidence in the state and democracy will be increased. What is needed to reduce the fear of uncertainty is thus the same thing that creates and maintains a good democracy - again trust and confidence. 

 - These institutions help to reduce the degree of uncertainty, and thus raise the odds that democracy will succeed, says Kevin Casas-Zamorra.

A crisis can create political change by showing the shortcomings of society, for example in health care and welfare. Katarzyna Gardapkhadze, Deputy Director of ODIHR, flags the risk of not using the opportunity. She believes that civil society and political processes are currently moving apart. For the pandemic to lead to change, that development needs to be reversed and the power of civil society taken advantage of. 

 - Trust is central and comes from two directions. First, the ability of democratic institutions to deliver. Secondly - the space for people to get involved and be listened to. When these meet, our society becomes resilient in crisis, says Katarzyna Gardapkhadze.

Trust and confidence are the strong cards of democracy. Our democratic society faces great challenges, but with the help of these cards we can emerge stronger from the pandemic and reverse the anti-democratic development.

This is a chronicle. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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