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C. Bastasin: It's not Europe. It's National Democracy which is Dysfunctional

image-07/08/2016 - 12:14Brexit is considered to be proof that Europe is not working. Frankly, this assessment is optimistic. What Brexit demonstrates is rather that, in some cases, national democracies become dysfunctional—when complex decisions cross national boundaries, for instance. This is an even more problematic and confusing finding. Finally, we have also discovered that the EU cannot work if its constituent national democracies do not work.

Thomas Jefferson was the most famous advocate of the need for a well-informed electorate in the functioning of a democracy. He would have been puzzled upon learning that many British voters had googled what the European Union is after voting. Many, in fact, were surprised by the fallout of a decision that they had made with little consideration. Only once faced with the consequences, had they felt the need to be better informed. The vote for Brexit was more an emotional impression than an informed expression.

We are used to thinking of political choice as responding to utilitarian criteria, diversely defined, where rationality guides choices and consequences. But this bond is weaker when we decide on something complex and remote, or about a problem that can be blamed on an "external enemy." The fact that the two Tory campaign leaders for Brexit, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, were former journalists turned politicians, sheds an interesting light on the link between quality of information and quality of politics.

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