Democracy scores

Saudi Arabia held rare elections this weekend. For the first time since a ban on their participation was lifted, Saudi women voted — and several were elected to municipal councils.  As the BBC reported, “Elections of any kind are rare in the Saudi kingdom – Saturday was only the third time in history that Saudis had gone to the polls.”

Marine Le Pen in 2012. Photo by Jannick Jeremy/Wikipedia
Marine Le Pen in 2012. Photo by Jannick Jeremy/Wikipedia

Meantime in France, strategic tactics and a late surge in voter turnout dashed the ambitions of the country’s anti-immigration, anti-European Union populist National Front.  “The far-right party in France, the National Front (FN),  failed to win a single region in elections Sunday despite record results in the first round, as voters flocked to traditional parties to keep them out of power, according to early estimates,” reported Agence France-Presse.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen lashed out with bizarre accusations of “intellectual terrorism” and being “undemocratic” after  the majority of voters and the mainstream parties worked together to overcome her party’s ambition to rule.

What is most interesting is that Le Pen would have prevailed under the winner-take-all systems used in many countries, notably highly-polarized U.S., Canada and Britain. (Disclosure: I support proportional representation.)

Democracy — our ongoing, optimistic experiment in human agency, raised its head this weekend. And for today at least, in two places at least, it kept it.

— Deborah Jones

Stories currently on our Contents page include a focus on Climate, China’s impact on housing bubbles, religious extremists in the US, Photo-essays including Reuters’ Photos of the Year, and a trove of eclectic great reads available nowhere else.

Recommended for a Sunday think, from F&O this time last year:  The perils of the last human: flaws in modern economics, by Warwick Smith.

“Our economic system funnels our will into the pursuit of material prosperity and comfort. This is the very opposite of freedom. It stifles creativity and forces our life energy inwards instead of outwards, turning us into what Nietzsche describes as “the sick animal”. Despite our material prosperity we suffer from “affluenza” and write self-help books to each other in an attempt to diagnose and treat the panoply of mental and physical afflictions caused by our wealth.

“The fact that our economic system is a social construct means that we have made a choice, even if an unconscious one, and that we can remake that choice.” ….  Click to read Warwick Smith’s essay.*


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