Borrell on the inefficacy of elections in achieving political goals

Josep Borrell is the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, i.e., he is the EU’s foreign secretary. In a recent speech to the EU ambassadors, Borrell said the following [video]:

Many people in the world, yes, they go and vote and choose their government, but their material conditions are not being improved. And in the end, people want to live a better life.

Borrell followed this admission in the inefficacy of elections in achieving the most fundamental political goals with the following bromide:

We have to explain what are the links between political freedom and a better life. […] Our fight is to try to explain that democracy, freedom, political freedom is not something that can be exchanged by economic prosperity or social cohesion. Both things have to go together.

Borrell, however, fails to explain what those supposed links between elections and prosperity are. In fact, as he admits, in reality those links do not exist. It is Borrell himself who tells his audience that “many people” vote without having their conditions improved and that the Chinese system provides prosperity without elections. Moreover, despite Borrell’s assertions to the contrary, the situation of having elections on the one hand and stagnation or deterioration of the quality of life of the average person on the other hand is the norm in the West as well, and indeed worldwide. Thus Borrell’s unreflective faith in the links between elections and prosperity is due purely to his own blindness and to him belonging to an insular elite whose status is justified by the electoralist ideology.

2 Responses

  1. If elections don’t improve people’s lives, something is wrong somewhere. After elections, parties and governments do not deal with voters’ problems. Evidently something is wrong with the relationship between the voters and the people they charge to help them. I therefore see a problem of political continuity in the life of democracies. On the contrary, politics is all concentrated in parties and governments, while citizens are strangers to them. We must therefore ask ourselves what the word politics means. Is it a professional occupation of those who choose to work as political employees, or is it a dimension of the life of every citizen who intends to be an adult in society? If the second answer is right, how can the continuity between the adulthood of each person and the concentration of the administration and management of politics by a small portion of society be achieved? Clearly, a number of problems need to be resolved: how can citizens be guaranteed their right to the political dimension, how can people’s roles be distributed in a coordinated manner according to the political task that each one sets out to undertake? It is about linking people’s lives with the whole chain of political life. Getting there takes a long time, but much could be done immediately despite the difficulties (wars, autocracies, governments of uncertain democracy, etc.).

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  2. certainly a well-developed direct democracy including sortition are the answer to the electoral aristocracy. https://www.academia.edu/86490623/The_Psychology_of_Direct_Democracy_edition_sept_2022

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