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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Terms of Office in a Representative Democracy: Greek Austerity

In September 2012, the E.U. state of Greece was in the process of working out a 11.5 euro austerity plan that would involve forced retirements in public sector and pension cuts so the E.U. would approve another installment of the bailout to the state. One resident remarked at the time, “Mark my words. In the coming months, there will be a revolution, and this government will fall.”[1] This sounds a bit like “buyer’s remorse” concerning the election the previous June  in which the anti-bailout/austerity party barely lost. What about all the Greeks who voted for Samaras, the pro-bailout/austerity leader? It cannot be assumed that they, too, had buyer's remorse even as the additional cuts went into effect. Even if the electorate shifted in the direction of anti-austerity as the forced retirements and pension cuts occurred, the ingrediants of representative democracy includes terms of office to protect the elected officials by giving time for their policies to work. Representative democracy does not reduce to the momentary passion of the masses. According to Plato, mob rule is the bad form of democracy. 

The full essay is at "Terms of Office in Democracy."

1. Liz Alderman, “Greek Government and Public at Odds Over New Cuts,” The New York Times, September 6, 2012.