Post-Brexit: Democracy on majority is a formula for chaos

01/07/2016
Many are reeling after Britain voted on Thursday to leave the European Union, but some who voted in favor of the Brexit are wondering just what they've gotten themselves into. And, that gives us an ironical view on Western democracy.
In the wake of the historic vote, stock markets have plunged and the value of the British pound dropped to its lowest value in 31 years, prompting many to regret their decision to vote for the Brexit. By late Friday, a parliamentary petition had been launched – and was gathering signatures at the rate of roughly 1,000 names per minute, reported the Independent – to hold a second vote. 
"Even though I voted to leave, this morning I woke up and I just – the reality did actually hit me," one voter told Britain's ITV News. "If I had the opportunity to vote again, it would be to stay." 
Some of the voters who backed Britain leaving the EU have revealed their regret over the choice after Leave triumphed in the referendum. Electoral services workers have reported calls from people asking if they could change their decision after Friday’s result became clear, while some publicly admitted they intended to use a “protest vote” in the belief the UK was certain to remain in the European Union.
The anxiety – dubbed “Bregret” – emerged as the value of the pound tumbled and markets crashed, while somefelt betrayed by Nigel Farage’s admission that a Vote Leave poster pledging to spend millions of pounds supposedly given to the EU on the NHS was a “mistake”.
A woman calling into an LBC radio show echoed the sentiment, saying she felt “conned” by the claim and felt “a bit sick”. A voter who gave his name as Adam told the BBC he would have changed his pro-Brexit vote if he knew the short-term consequences it would have for the UK economy.
"The David Cameron resignation has blown me away to be honest and the period of uncertainty that we’re going to be magnified now so yeah, I’m quite worried,” he said. "I'm shocked that we voted for Leave, I didn't think that was going to happen. I didn't think my vote was going to matter too much because I thought we were just going to remain."
More than one million people regret their vote to leave the European Union, an opinion poll carried out in the wake of the Brexit decision suggests. Of the 17.4 million people who voted Leave, 1.1 million now say they wish they had not, if the results of a Survation poll are to be believed. Another Brexit voter tweeted: "Urm, I think I kind of regret my vote. I had no real reason to pick what I did!". Meanwhile, a petition for a second referendum on EU membership has garnered more than 3.6 million votes.
Brexit. It seemed like a great idea at the time. But now they look at the years of political unrest and global financial turmoil they just unleashed on the rest of the world, and they're starting to think maybe it wasn't such a hot idea. British knew David Cameron threatened to resign if they all voted "Leave," but none of us thought he'd actually go ahead and do it. To be honest, they didn't actually think their votes would, like, count. What does that tell us about Western democracy? Is it really democratic? But, no matter what, now all can see the consequence of Western-styled democracy.
This isn’t democracy, it is Russian roulette for republics. A decision of enormous consequence – far greater even than amending a country’s constitution (of course, the United Kingdom lacks a written one) – has been made without any appropriate checks and balances.
The idea that somehow any decision reached anytime by majority rule is necessarily “democratic” is a perversion of the term. Modern democracies have evolved systems of checks and balances to protect the interests of minorities and to avoid making uninformed decisions with catastrophic consequences. The greater and more lasting the decision, the higher the hurdles.
The UK vote has thrown Europe into turmoil. A lot will depend on how the world reacts and how the UK government manages to reconstitute itself. It is important to take stock not just of the outcome, though, but of the process. Any action to redefine a long-standing arrangement on a country’s borders ought to require a lot more than a simple majority in a one-time vote. The current international norm of simple majority rule is, as we have just seen, a formula for chaos.
          There may, in certain circumstances, be an argument for referendums in our politics. But the argument has to be better than that we have had some referendums in the past or that a lot of the public would like one. Democracy must depend on people’s intellectual standards of the people. People will always agree they want a say. Yet it is far from obvious that a system of referendums strengthens trust in democracy./.
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All comments [ 11 ]


LawrenceSamuels 1/7/16 09:30

The result has sparked plans for a second independence referendum in Scotland, where all electoral districts voted Remain, and a petition for London to declare independence from the rest of the UK and apply to join the EU.

Love Peace 1/7/16 09:31

So ironical that many voters have since spoken out saying they are shocked at the poll's outcome and did not believe their Leave votes would actually count.

John Smith 1/7/16 09:34

Yes, democracy must be commensurate with people's knowledge.

Deck Hero14 1/7/16 09:35

Does the vote have to be repeated after a year to be sure? No. Does a majority in Parliament have to support Brexit? Apparently not. Did the UK’s population really know what they were voting on? Absolutely not. Indeed, no one has any idea of the consequences, both for the UK in the global trading system, or the effect on domestic political stability. I am afraid it is not going to be a pretty picture.

Jane smartnic 1/7/16 09:37

With Europe now facing the risk of a slew of further breakup votes, an urgent question is whether there is a better way to make these decisions.

Pack Cassiopian 1/7/16 09:37

For one thing, the Brexit decision may have looked simple on the ballot, but in truth no one knows what comes next after a leave vote.

MaskOf Zero 1/7/16 09:40

The UK vote has thrown Europe into turmoil. A lot will depend on how the world reacts and how the UK government manages to reconstitute itself.

Gentle Moon 1/7/16 09:40

Any action to redefine a long-standing arrangement on a country’s borders ought to require a lot more than a simple majority in a one-time vote.

Only Solidar 1/7/16 09:43

This outcome could undermines the legitimacy of legislators by suggesting that real democracy can only come directly from the people instead.

yobro yobro 1/7/16 09:45

I think referendums about questions that would otherwise be handled by the legislatures the people have already elected.

Love Peace 1/7/16 09:46

All of this was, perhaps, predictable, as some political scientists and historians have warned that a simple yes-or-no public referendum can be a terrible way to make a decision with such complex repercussions.

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