Build a Coalition of Democracies from the Ground Up
If anything has become clear of late, it is that democracy is eroded little by little, almost unnoticed day to day. While grand global gestures like the one proposed by US President Joe Biden can be useful, democracy must be rebuilt little by little as well, starting locally, not internationally.
MADRID – All over the world, democracy is in retreat. In 2020, the Democracy Index, published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) since 2006, fell to its lowest-ever global level. This development cannot be attributed exclusively to restrictions imposed due to the pandemic, because the ratings have been in free fall since 2015. So it is not surprising that in his first foreign policy speech as US president, Joe Biden focused on the need to safeguard democratic values around the world.
Biden reaffirmed his intent, which he announced during his campaign, to organize a Summit for Democracy early in his presidency. In Biden’s own words, this summit “will bring together the world’s democracies to strengthen our democratic institutions, honestly confront countries that are backsliding, and forge a common agenda.” The United Kingdom has embraced the idea by proposing the establishment of a D10, to be formed with the members of the G7 along with Australia, India, and South Korea.
The outline and complementarity of these proposals have not yet been determined, but their essence is far from new. When John McCain ran for president against Barack Obama in 2008, he advocated the creation of a League of Democracies that would encompass more than a hundred states. In fact, when McCain floated the idea, a similar (but more modest) coalition had already existed since 2000, when the United States and Poland spearheaded the foundation of the Community of Democracies (CoD). That initiative still operates, but it is almost completely forgotten, demonstrating the difficulty of sustaining such efforts.