Democracy in Question?

Faltering democratic systems and the need to reconstruct democracy

Episode Summary

Why is democracy faltering around the world even in countries where it was previously well established? Why an unelected, non-democratic body like the House of Lords has joined the debate on democracy and is sounding off alarms? Can crises like Brexit or the war in Ukraine encourage the debate to rethink how democracy works? What type of media and politicians can best assist in achieving this?

Episode Notes

Guests featured in this episode:

Dr Michael John Hastings, Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick CBE. He began his career as a teacher at a London Comprehensive school but after a few years took up a government job and supported policy initiatives to bring employment and development to Britain’s inner cities in a rough period marked by urban riots. He went to work for the BBC as presenter and later joined the BBC Corporate Division, after which he became the head of its Public Affairs, and then its first head of Corporate Social Responsibility. In 2002, he was appointed CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in recognition of his services to crime reduction, including two decades of serving as a trustee and chairman of Crime Concern, and nine year of work with the Commission for Racial Equality. In 2005, he became a crossbencher life peer in the House of Lords.



What was the January 6 insurrection ? 
(00:10:45 or p.3 in the transcript)

United States Capitol attack o on January 6, 2021, by a mob of supporters of Pres. Donald J.Trump. The attack disrupted a joint session of Congress convened to certify the results of thepresidential election of 2020, which Trump had lost to his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden. Because its object was to prevent a legitimate president-elect from assuming office, the attack was widely regarded as an insurrection or coup d’etat. The FBI and other law-enforcement agencies also considered it an act of domestic terrorism.  For having given a speech before the attack in which he encouraged a large crowd of his supporters near the White House to march to the Capitol and violently resist Congress’s certification of Biden’s victory—which many in the crowd then did—Trump was impeached  ched by the Democratic-led House of Representatives for “incitement of insurrection” ;he was subsequently acquitted by the Senate. Source:


What is the Davos Forum and what is the agenda for 2022 meeting? 
(00:30:14 or p.7 in the transcript) 

For more than 50 years, the World Economic Forum, also known as the Davos Forum, has served as a global platform where leaders from business, government, international organizations, civil society and academia come together to address critical issues at the start of each year.

Davos was established in 1971 in Geneva (Switzerland) as an “independent, impartial and not tied to special interests” non-profit organization. Its founder is Klaus M. Schwab, a professor at the University of Geneva, who initially invited 444 executives from European companies to a meeting on corporate governance in the convention center of Davos.

His idea was to introduce the American business management approach to European firms. He never imagined that that meeting would lead to the unparalleled international summit that it is today.

Thousands of ideas come out of the Davos Forum. Not all of them materialize, but some have come far: the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed between Canada, Mexico, and the United States, was first proposed at an informal meeting in Davos.

In 2021, the forum had to be canceled because of the pandemic.

The war in Ukraine and the human tragedy that it entails has forced a change of agenda. Leaders gathered in Davos must therefore address the challenges stemming from the conflict, yet not lose sight of longer-term environmental, technological and social priorities. The meetings are structured around six themes: 1) Promoting global and regional cooperation; 2) Ensuring economic recovery and building a new era of growth; 3) Building healthy and fair societies; 4) Safeguarding the climate, food supply and nature; 5) Promoting the transformation of industry; 6) Harnessing the power of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Source:


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• The Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy in Geneva: AHCD

• The Podcast Company: Novel


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Episode Transcription

S.R: Welcome to "Democracy in Question," the podcast series that explores the challenges democracies are facing around the world today. I'm Shalini Randeria, Rector and President of the Central European University in Vienna, and Senior Fellow at the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy at the Graduate Institute in Geneva.

My guest today is Michael John Hastings, Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick, son of an Angolan father and a Jamaican mother. He graduated from Oxford and began his career as a schoolteacher, but then joined the government to support policy initiatives for employment and development to Britain's inner cities in a period marked by urban riots.

He worked for the BBC as head of its public affairs, and then as its first head of corporate social responsibility. Lord Hastings has held prestigious positions as a trustee of the Vodafone Group Foundation, as vice-chair of the World Economic Forum Agenda Council and is also currently the chair of the School of African and Oriental Studies Board of Trustees. In 2002, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his services to crime reduction and his work with the Commission for Racial Equality.

He's also an active member of the British Parliament as in 2005, he became a life peer in the House of Lords. The House of Lords held an important debate on the current state of democracy earlier this year. I will revisit with Lord Hastings some of the key arguments and insights from that debate in order to reflect on democratic backsliding in many parts of the world.

Of course, we'll also talk about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and how it may have changed his views on the precarious state of liberal democracy. And we'll discuss why many autocratic regimes paradoxically, enjoy so much popular support and legitimacy.

Finally, of course, I'd like to talk to him about the positive generative potential that a moment of crisis such as the Brexit or the Ukraine war may hold to ask today about the possibility, even the necessity of rethinking democracy.

It's a great pleasure to welcome Lord Hastings to today's episode. Michael, a very warm welcome to you and thank you so much for taking the time to join me for today's conversation.


Lord Hastings: Well, thank you very much for having me. Thank you.


Shalini: When we met earlier this year, I was struck immediately by your mention of the long debate on the contemporary threats to democracy in the House of Lords. At this debate on the 3rd of February 2022, it was noted that democracy is in retreat, authoritarianism on the rise as non-democratic countries outnumber democratic ones worldwide for the first time in 20 years. And that democracies are quite fragile and vulnerable, vulnerable to hijack, both by autocrats, but also by kleptocrats who want to assume power through democratic elections then begin to dismantle the fundamental building blocks of liberal democratic institutions.

So, let's begin by understanding how and why this debate was initiated in the House of Lords, and what were the stakes of having such a debate, in particular, in that setting? And if you could outline the main positions, the faultlines, if there were any in this debate, and what are the kinds of conclusions that were arrived at in the house, we can then begin to unravel the questions from there.


Lord H: Well, it is kind of ironic that the unelected, non-democratic upper house of the British Parliament, debating, discussing democracy. But after all, we may well be unelected, non-democratic but we do feed in the same trough as the elected chamber of the House of Commons.

The debate was central to understanding exactly why it's important to retain this kind of balance. One of the assumptions of democracy is that the best results come from elected positions. Let the people have their say.

Well, the people had their say in the United Kingdom over Brexit. That led to a cataclysmic departure from a common framework of security and defense and business, and network, and alliances, and education, and trade, and common relationship with the European Union, which was built up on the back of what had been the cataclysmic wars of the previous century.

So here we are out on a limb because of a democratic decision. But that was not a wise decision, in my judgment, and in the judgment of so many others. If the assumption is that democracy is always best because the people always vote the best. Well, that hasn't fallen in our case.

And so, it was necessary for the House of Lords to stand back and say, "Around the world, there are emerging crises of uncertainty. We've seen the terrible outcomes of what the imposition of democratic will has been from the Western nations towards North African countries, the Middle East, and, of course, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now, once we stand back from that, we have to say, does democracy not only lead to better decisions, but also more humane actions? No, not necessarily. There is a need to recognize that the world system which was put in place after the Second World War, in order to protect security, and defend democracy, and build civil society, has shown it's incapable of standing up effectively, to tyranny.

I'm going to quote, if I may, if you'll allow me to, from Andriy Yermak. Andriy Yermak is the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine. Writing in "Time Magazine," he says these words, "The current international security system has nearly expired. It's rotted through. Its remains have collapsed and buried the world order beneath it. Trying to revive it is futile”. Here we are at this point, where we're now where we began this conversation some months ago in the House of Lords, not discussing Russia and Ukraine but now we have to center around Russia, Ukraine. And the irony is, we are looking on a UN system of democracy, the UN Security Council, where every member has a vote, and there are five permanent members.

And in that democratic structure, we can do nothing about Russia, nothing at all. We cannot act against, ironically, a once fully democratic state to remove it from the control center of the world. So fundamental to the problem of democracy and the way we've thought about democracy is the assumption that democratic decision-making and decision-makers are the best of class.

And too much increasing evidence shows that democratic systems falter and fail, not because it's a bad idea, as Churchill once said, 'It's the best of all the worst ideas,' but because the people who must exercise it are either ill-informed on the electorate's case, poor decision-makers on the decision-makers case. And then the systems of global governments created that were once highly fragile are now totally broken. So we need to reconstruct, and that would imply a reconstruction of democracy."


S.R: So that is a really wide range of issues which you have raised here. Let me pick out one or two to just look back to the House of Lords’ debates, and then talk about two of the issues that you've just raised. Were there any differences of opinion in the House on some of the questions that you have just delineated, such that political allegiances, party lines or ideological commitments, which one would expect would normally shape one's understanding of democracy, did they play a role in any of the opinions expressed, or did you find a fair amount of consensus on both the nature of the diagnosis of the crisis and what we could be doing to solve it?


Lord H: Oh, complete consensus. There was complete consensus across all sides of the House who participated in the debate on democracy. And at the center of the consensus was a clear view, absolutely crystal clear that you can only bring effect to good democracy if the character and nature of its leaders are both benign, generous, constructive, humble, purposeful, and public service orientated.

But what we have tragically witnessed, including in our own case here in the United Kingdom is political leaders voted in for a purpose maybe based on deceits, Brexit, oven-ready, get it done, life is easy, all problems are solved, and then both chaotic decision-making, absence of clear purpose, and holding the public to ransom on false promises that can't have good effect.

And that absence of good caliber and character is what, of course, undermines our democratic decisions. Now, we also have to look at other places in the world. And we looked at the outcomes of four years of President Trump, which was an insurrection, essentially an attempt in Washington D.C. on January 6th to overthrow the legitimately elected new presidential system for Joe Biden, but to do that, by public outrage.

But that public outrage was driven by people believing something that they convinced themselves of that was not factually, scientifically or even democratically based. And now we're sitting in a situation where a third were told by pollsters, a third of America's population, believe that the election of President Biden and, therefore the nonelection of President Trump, was a stolen election. If a third of your people believe that, and they don't accept the processes of democratic decision-making, democracy cannot function.


S.R: You're absolutely right. And I'm afraid the kind of disinformation which led both to Brexit and to the January 6th insurrection is here with us to stay unless we are able to take measures to inform our citizens better. But let me  turn to another aspect of what you said before, which really struck a chord with me, and that is, how vulnerable do you think is the liberal-democratic status quo embodied by the North Atlantic hegemony of the U.S., the EU, and NATO, which is on the threshold I think of a new Cold War, if not a World War? And can liberal democracy as we have known it survive these attacks with the growing number of authoritarian leaders, not only in the Middle East, but also in EU member States, for example, in Hungary, but at the moment, what we are seeing also is Turkey blocking within NATO, any attempt by Sweden or Finland to become members of the alliance.


Lord H: Can it be fixed is the really important question. Can it be fixed? Now, all the surveys undertaken for the World Economic Forum on an annual basis by Edelman show collapsing faith in governments, at one point collapsing faith in business, and then collapsing faith in media, and the only institutions where faith was being upheld were public service organizations, foundations, charities.

Government is meant to reflect the best intentions of the people's key instincts to support one another, and to enable one another to thrive, for families to be able to have children who can be well educated and develop a society to the future, and, therefore, for the old to feel protected and not abused by the generation coming behind them. So, a supportive circle.

But as governments have increasingly failed to deliver social value goods every year when surveys come out and look at which countries emerge as having the strongest social cohesion, it is normally the Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, they emerge with the strongest consensus, because they have democratic systems, but also strong public social service structures.

So, the purpose of democracy, if the purpose of democracy is to ensure better, more realistic equity, so that people feel their lives were, then democracy delivers. But in the case of the United States, the United Kingdom, and a number of other countries where the differentials between the very rich and the very poor get wider and wider with executive pay, but the United States gets more extreme year by year, where privileged people can live exceptional lives, and the vast majority live struggling lives, then democracy is fundamentally failing.


S.R: So, Michael, may I refer you back to the Brexit discussion and link that observation of yours? And I think you're absolutely right, democracy must deliver. And one of the things it should deliver is equality of opportunity, of dismantling of privilege. 

So, let me link that to your observation on Brexit. Because Brexit, after all, was the result of a referendum. The vote was split. It was a polarized country. Press got through by a thin margin, but nevertheless, the result of a democratic referendum. And normally, one would say referenda are probably among the purest forms of democracy, because they are really allowing people to voice their opinions.

Of course, we saw, as you very rightly pointed out, the voice and the will of the people manipulated by unscrupulous politicians aided also, let's not forget, by Russians in this particular instance. But nevertheless, the question for me there is, do you think the fact that one had paid so little attention to this question of equity, of equalizing living conditions in the United Kingdom, was that one of the grievances which really fed into the negative vote for the European Union?

Although the European Union, I think had little to do with it, but the resentment against growing inequality and equal life chances, the lack of provision of public services because of austerity politics of many, many years in the United Kingdom, that got mobilized to fuel an anger against the European Union, which actually it had very little to do with.


Lord H: You're exactly right, Shalini. There were backdrops and circumstances and causations that had undermined the public's belief that their relationship with the European Union, their involvement in the European Union was ultimately beneficial.

And they inappropriately blamed open borders policies, and an economic system that was about shared resources. So, enabling the less privileged parts of Europe to benefit from the more privileged parts of Europe, that the public blamed that on their own vulnerabilities, and the fear that there were going to be more and more and more people with fewer resources coming to beg at their door.

So rather shut the door now fast. Before more get in even the profound deceit that there were going to be up to 100 million Turks coming across, if Turkey got into the European Union, where are they going to all find their way? They'll all find their way to London, to Manchester, to Birmingham, and they'll take our benefits and take our jobs. 

That kind of fear-mongering from people who haven't believed in the common good or seen the outcomes of the common good was easy to stoke, and it was stoked. Here we are two years on, ask any minister of the government to give you a list of five benefits of exiting the European Union. It's a struggle. It's a severe struggle.

We highlighted that in the debate that we may be able to point to certain things done, for example, with easier access to vaccines in United Kingdom than the rest of the European Union. But frankly, after a couple of months, they caught up. It wasn't that it was a long-term deficit, it was just an organizational problem.

But when it comes to the need, the bigger picture need, which is to hold the world together in a common consensus of peace and order, to respect the dignity of the lives of the most vulnerable. We only do that when we work strongly together. That's what the United Nations was effectively all about. 

When we work collectively together, in common partnerships together, we deliver peace, security, and well-being. So, if we allow attacks on our own economic position to overwhelm us, we then become defensive, and then we turn on the basis of those diseases to attack the person we perceive who might take our benefit away from us.

That is partly what Brexit false promises, misinformation, a whole lot of hype associated with the great string of benefits that will immediately flow, and nobody can point to what they are. And actually, the British government is quite rightly having to work in tandem and consultation on security issues with other European nations, and on defense issues with other European nations, and on economic issues with other European nations.

It would have been easier if we'd stayed in the center. We're not there now. We're out. The deal is done but not finished, as we said. So, here's an opportunity for mature realignment, and for the UK, and the European Union to ask themselves, how can we improve on this position, rather than just stand on the back of what happened in 2016?

Because if democracy is meant to be dynamic, lessons are learned. Get it right. Don't just sit on the position. It was 2016 when the poll was 52% - 48%. Subsequent polls in 2018 to 2020 showed a flip on the reverse. The public began to realize that what they thought was the great promise of Brexit was not the reality.

Now, mature politics would say, in a democracy, listen to the now voice of the people, not the then voice. That was based on misunderstanding. But one of the problems of modern democracy, Shalini, and this is a fundamentally important issue that we discussed in the debate is that politicians get stuck on the hook of their own ideology.

And you can't have effective equity and good democracy if you remain stuck in the glue of what you once said or did. You must move forward, and you must look at the world for what the world really is. And true democracy means I must listen every day, not just listen to what I said way back on that day.


S.R: That's very, very true. I mean, democracies are self-correcting, unlike autocracies. So, therefore, there lies one advantage of the democratic form of government. But of course, the individual politician finds it difficult to get himself out or herself out of an earlier position. But Michael, I wanna go back to another point which you made, when you said, one of the fears that was fueled in the Brexit campaign by the pro-Brexit side was millions of Turks invading the United Kingdom. The Turks didn't come but those who did come were the oligarchs.

In the context of the Ukraine war, which you have also spoken about earlier, what does strike one is the number of oligarchs close to the Kremlin, so not only those who have fled Russia, because they were anti-Putin, but the ones who are close to the Kremlin, who have lived for many years in the safe haven of Greater London, which became a magnet for illicit wealth.

Can you say something about whether and how the war and the sanctions have changed attitudes towards, not only these particular individuals who are on the sanctions list, but towards political parties, which were quite happy to receive donations from many of these people, but also a system in which firms in London, professionals in London, banks in London were very happy to take in the money that these Russians were bringing in? What has changed?


Lord H: Well, I think we'll only know in a decade what has changed, to be honest with you, Shalini. It's one thing to have means of objection, quite another thing to know whether they've worked. And I'm not going to defend the fact that, as some would say, Londongrad was a great receiving point for Russian oligarch money, so is Monaco and France, so is Switzerland, so are parts of Bavaria and Germany. Let's not pretend that this is a British problem. It's not. We need to recognize that the capitalist system that we operate in, which allows the easy transfer of cash, resources across boundaries, and allows the purchase of property and investment in key assets works right the way across the democratic world.

So, London has been particularly attractive because of our property laws, and because of freehold. And that isn't the primary benefit for those who choose to invest here. But we're not the sole players in a world game, in which money hides itself in multiple centers in democratic systems, which, of course, advantage the rich. 

It is deeply unfortunate, but what it speaks of, Shalini, to go back to the point. Now, political leaders often say the first duty of government is the protection of their people. That's often interpreted as protection means borders and boundaries. But the most important protection day in, day out is, can people heat their homes? Can they feed their children? Can they get good education? Can they walk securely in the streets? Do they feel their health needs will be met?

And if that is the case, the real security and freedom are about day-to-day well-being, then we should focus on those priorities. First, social development and security go hand in hand. And without that, what we end up with is the privileged few, wherever they come from finding their places to buy up, whether it's in Switzerland, or it's in London.


S.R: So, let's pick up one other strand of the discussion earlier, which is media. I think one of the things we would agree to is not just Brexit, but one of the major threats to liberal democracy is because of the ability of media, especially social media to generate falsehoods.

They are able to also generate a lot of resentment by the kinds of algorithms and systems that the media companies have built up. You have been very closely associated with the, BBC the Public Broadcasting Company, which is really exemplary for independent media. I think for those of us who grew up in other parts of the world. I grew up in India. I grew up listening to the BBC Radio.

My entire childhood was spent, first, looking at the Listener, the wonderful magazine of the BBC, which was delivered to the doorstep those days, because, otherwise, we only had a state-owned media. So, the coveted independence of a media is something that has really come under major attack.

And in the case of the British one, the BBC itself has been under attack. What are the main lessons you would like to draw from the whole attack, not only on the independence of the media in so many European countries, Eastern European countries as well? Russia is, of course, the extreme example. But I think we are seeing everywhere a decline in both the quality of media, the independence of the media, but also through the concentration of ownership in media. And I think that is a serious danger to democracy, to democratic decision-making, but also to information that is available to citizens.


Lord H: You're absolutely right. And the necessity for highly structured, well-resourced, well-informed journalism, and intellectually pursuing programming that allows us to understand the complex world we live in, and how we need to respond to the detail of its issues, rather than face disasters and wonder why they happened, that necessitates a public expenditure commitment.

Most governments would rather rely entirely on commercially resourced media. You mentioned, quite rightly, the strength and quality of the BBC.

And I was so thrilled to have been Head of Public Affairs at the BBC for 12 years and to have defended the BBC's constitution, its charter, and its license fee funding system because that allows independence of non-publicly resourced public service media. It must cater to audience demand.

And if that audience demand is entirely trivial, we then lose the ability to learn, to know, to see, to understand, to perceive. As we've always seen, whenever autocratic leaders want to impose their will, the first thing they do is cut away at the right of journalists and independent media organizations to have their say.

Clearly, we saw that happen in Russia. Less control of the narrative means that it's important to control the mind of the public. So independent national journalism and independent international journalism is fundamentally vital to the security, and well-being, and sincerity of our democratic systems, holding them to account.

The fundamental weakness of democracy as we sit here today is it relies on the public making informed consistently intelligent decisions. But where are they getting that intelligent decision-making, it must come through individual pursuit, of course, but also public media institutions, which help us to understand the world as it is and needs to be. And so, we need independent, intelligent media that helps us to think, challenge us to make different decisions., and then to hold those decision-makers we elect to account.


S.R: We've talked now at length about all that ails liberal democracies today. Let's try in the end on a more optimistic note, the question I think, would be the crises of democracies worldwide, are they able to provide some avenues for more self-reflexive, self-critical exploration, which could lead to some sets of possible remedies against this popular disenchantment with mainstream politics and also largely discredited political parties?

So, the question would be, how can we nurture and even reinvigorate our democracies today? Can we unthink some of their features? Which features could we reshape? Is decentralization of democratic decision-making to local levels, one of the remedies? Where do we go from here?


Lord H: Well, you certainly hit upon one of the essential solutions, which is to decentralize and increase local democracies. The closer democratic decision-making is to the people, where they live, their immediate geographies, the more effective it can be. 

But here we are in the midst of a European war, and we've needed to see governments at national level learn how to function and to work together. So, local democracy, fantastic. We need more of it. We need grown up political leaders, who know how we are we going to get from where we are now to where we need to be, a consensus amongst democratic leaders, world leaders, and I possibly position that maybe Davos is the one place that may happen, the  rich countries of the world have consistently under-invested in the next generation, and the generation that needs to come after them have quality, credible, effective decision-making political leadership.

We only have to look sadly at the United States to see the creaky age-old figures who come around time after time... and we see in other parts of the world, that there is just not enough energy put into the development of another generation of people, of perception and insight, and political history, and wisdom, and work abilities.

But here's the other thing, Shalini, all over the world, more significant larger democracies punish politicians by keeping them poor. So, the less we pay them, the harder we can make their lives. The more we can squeeze them, the more we think it's better for democracy.

That's actually worse. Because what do we do with the businesses we rely on? We know that their profitability and their effectiveness as business institutions relies on rewarding executives and decision-makers who improve the quality of the service, the product, the supply chain, the marketing, and the outcomes.

When it comes to politicians, we seek to squeeze them as tightly as possible. This disincentivizes another generation from entering political life, because it's easier to enter banking life, where you can have high pay, and high reward, and privacy.

Now, if we're gonna be serious about democracy, we need to reward properly those who take critical cataclysmically huge decisions on our behalf, reward them as we would do executives, but we need to put in training programs.

And I would urge Davos to leave the European Union with the UK and with the United States, to invest heavily in a college or university of political futures. Because what we do need to see is a school [of democratic development.

There is no global system for identifying and recognizing and developing leaders for the next generation who will take political office as the integrity option for their future. Without it, the best people will opt out and go for pay in the private world.


S. R: Thank you very, very much for this really insightful look into the House of Lords debate as our starting point but then branching out from there, into looking at World Affairs, in general, with a very interesting recommendation for reshaping, retooling our democratic political life.


Lord H: I'm an optimist. I always have been an optimist. I believe in democracy, but I believe in intelligent equity of opportunity for everyone in the wider society. I believe we have the opportunity to change our systems for the good of all. But we're not going to do that if we insist on old institutions and we prioritize the privilege of the limited and the few. So, this has been an important conversation for all our futures. Thank you very much indeed.


S. R: Let's have a quick wrap-up of some of the main points of this fascinating discussion. It's ironic that an undemocratic, unelected institution like the House of Lords was the site of insightful debate on the backlash against democracies worldwide, but also, of course, in Britain.

Let's not forget that Brexit was a democratic decision by a thin margin, democratic nevertheless, but it was still an unwise decision. We are witnessing many uncertainties around the future of democracy worldwide, not only its faltering, but also its unsuccessful imposition on societies like Afghanistan, and many countries in the Middle East.

Democratic systems and democratic decision-makers can falter and fail if the decision-makers are ill-informed and if their character is wanting. What we need is benign, purposeful, humble, public service-oriented leadership, not leaders prone to holding people to ransom on false promises once made.

Politicians tend to get stuck in the glue of their own earlier positions. A mature democracy needs them to move on and need to face changes. Fear-mongering about immigration, about lack of control over borders, over self-preservation of the British nation, those were the fears that fueled the catastrophic decision leading to Brexit.

One reason for that decision was media disinformation. We need independent media which comes with a strong commitment to public expenditure, which would then assure independent journalism national, as well as international, which is able to hold those governing us to account. Democracy depends on what it can deliver. One of its purposes is to deliver equity, to deliver social development, and social protection. Decentralization of decision-making is only one remedy for the ills that we are witnessing today.

What we need are not only better leaders, but better-remunerated leaders, since there are hardly any incentives to enter political life today. We need to invest more in the development of a new generation, the younger generation of political leaders who are rewarded properly for the important decisions that they take on our behalf. What we need then is a school for our democratic futures.

This was the eighth episode of season four. Thank you very much for listening. Join us also for the next episode in two weeks' time. My guest will be Masha Gessen of "The New Yorker". Please go back and listen to any episodes you might have missed, and, of course, let your friends know about this podcast if you're enjoying it.

You can stay in touch with the work of the and the Albert Hirschman Center on Democracy at www.graduate