Democracy never reaches its final destination
«Democracy in challenging environments» was the theme when the Oslo Center held its annual seminar Monday 12. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former president of Latvia talked about the democracy’s historical development and current challenges.
Freiberga emphasized the importance of thinking about the dynamic character of democracy when we attempt to spread it across the world. Drawing on historical examples from the founding of democracy in Athens and the slave trade in the Roman Empire she reminded us that democracy and its principles is not something fixed or inherited.
– Democracy is never finished, it’s not a concrete system or something you can acquire once and for all. It is a process where people come to agreement and establish a set of principles they agree to live by, says Freiberga.
Prejudice against women
That people are a value in themselves is a fundamental principle of democracy. That every vote is equivalent is another. But these principles have not always been and are still not respected everywhere. Freiberga points to prejudices throughout history where certain groups of people are excluded from participation. Women are the most exposed of all.
– From the founding of democracy in Athens to Europe today there is discrimination against women. There are labels and stigmas against women that exclude them from certain rights, privileges and positions at birth, said Freiberga
Freiberga recognizing that democracy has its shortcomings, but emphasize that it’s still the best form of governance we have.
– Instead of rejecting democracy, we must recognize that it’s a process expressed differently across the world.