The burden of democracy
This document describes democracy as being burdened with problems which it cannot necessarily solve, and explores this theme in the South African context. The current wave of democratisation is more global, more thorough in its regional impact, and there are fewer regressions to autocracy than before. Fundamental to current understanding is the distinction between democratisation as a process and the practice of democratic government. What drives the process is a commitment to democratic values on the part of all those involved. There is convergence on the meaning of democracy in international relations, with two fundamental operating principles: contingent consent and bounded uncertainty. These cannot be guaranteed by a constitution but live in the democratic culture. There are fundamental procedures underpinning a democratic system, in terms of which various democratic constitutions and systems of government can be categorized. Currently, South Africa is resolving tensions between assembly democracy and representative democracy, and will probably have representative democracy or no democracy at all. The author fears the expectations that people have of what a democracy can deliver and which it is incapable of doing. This is the real burden of democracy in South Africa, since democracy does not guarantee stability, the absence of political conflict, or growth and development. These values are in equilibrium in the consolidated democracies of the world. Countries undergoing democratic transformation do not have the same history and resources. Hopefully, South Africa will learn from history.