Across the globe, a growing disillusionment with democracy

Roberto Foa and Yascha Mounk write: Signs of democratic dysfunction are everywhere, from Athens to Ankara, Brussels to Brasília. In the United States, the federal government has shut down 12 times in the last 35 years. According to the political scientists Christopher Hare and Keith T. Poole, the two main American political parties are more polarized now than they have been at any time since the Civil War. Meanwhile, a Gallup tracking poll shows that trust in the presidency and in the Supreme Court stands at historic lows — while faith in Congress has plummeted so far that it is now in the single digits.

Some citizens of democracies have become so unhappy with their institutions that — according to disturbing new studies of public opinion around the world — they may be tempted to dispense with partisan politics altogether. Would it not be better to let the president make decisions without having to worry about Congress — or to entrust key decisions to unelected experts like the Federal Reserve and the Pentagon?

According to a growing share of Americans, the answer is yes. Back in 1995, the well-respected World Values Survey, which studies representative samples of citizens in almost 100 countries, asked Americans for the first time whether they approved of the idea of “having the army rule.” One in 15 agreed. Since then, that number has steadily grown, to one in six. [Continue reading…]

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