Democracy isn't always good and a guarantee for political salvation. Democracy is heavily dependent on its qualitative aspect and a little variation in that could lead to worse consequences. There can not be a middle-way in democratic standards. You are either a democracy or not. An oxymoron like illiberal democracy only draws the conclusion that such democracy isn't far from its end.
Democracy doesn't come for free, it needs to be nurtured
The death of an infant democracy in Egypt drives home this point. The fall of the country's first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi and the regret of the world's most viable democracy, the USA, over it points at an irony.
The USA used to tell the long-serving Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, to begin political reforms at which the latter aired an apprehension about the consequences if the Muslim Brotherhood had ever come to the office. Mubarak was ousted two years ago and democracy found an opportunity but not for long and the army overthrew it on July 4.
A dictator could better perceive how a democracy would look like in his country but not the world's most revered democracy. Even it terms of the date, the irony persists for it was on the same July 4 that the USA had begun its journey as an independent democratic nation, 237 years ago.
Morsi & Co never cared for democratic principles
Morsi and his Brotherhood did not show much effort to establish Egypt as a viable democracy in the strategically important west Asian region. They tried to undermine individual rights, encourage violence against Christian minority and drive out the opposition, each of which clearly gives ominous signals for a democratic culture.
What has fuelled the public anger against Morsi's democratic regime is the multiplying woes of the common people in terms of socio-economic problems.
The military intervened as the final resort, as it has done at various parts of the globe, to save the country falling from grace. It is a great irony of history that repressive military power is considered to be a more effective liberalizing force when the democratically elected governments fail to meet popular expectations.
Why democracies face survival struggle after long periods of stagnation
But why does democracy fail to prosper in systems which have seen long periods of repressive rule?
Newton had the answer. It is because for every action, there is an equal opposite reaction. Egypt had seen years of dictatorial rule causing extreme repression and more repression resulted in stubborn opposition. This gives rise to an endless cycle of confrontation till one of the adversaries give away.
A democracy faces its biggest test of survival when it replaces a long-entrenched repressive rule for the temptation to pay back the ousted opposition in its same coin is very difficult to ignore.
A parallel between Morsi and our own Mamata Banerjee
In India, the state of West Bengal has seen a similar situation. A long-entrenched totalitarian rule of three decades (similar to Mubarak's 30-year rule) has left little space for a liberal democracy in the state. Elections were always there in Bengal but at the same time, a well-oiled machinery of the leftist rulers in the state made a mockery of polls and democracy.
Mamata Banerjee stormed the Left bastion in 2011 amid great public applause but two years since then, her administration has turned out into a liability for the people. Individual rights have been attacked, opposition has been targeted while socio-economic development has been stalled.
The only exception with Morsi is that while the former chose a radical path in religious matters, Mamata chose to appease the minorities. But the spirit of the game remains the same. It is just because India is a secular democracy that most of its politicians choose to practice secular politics to polarise religious sentiments. An irony, but it is.
Illiberal democracy, as it has been said, doesn't survive for long for it's not destined to. Leaders like Morsi perish because they don't know how to back a liberal order and separate powers from constitutionalism.
For Mamata Banerjee, the failure to separate a politician from an administrator has betrayed her electorate. This makes confrontation with other institutions inevitable. While Morsi rammed into the army, Mamata has been facing brickbats from the judiciary quite often.
Morsi's fall is more vivid for he was the head of the state while Mamata is a chief administrator of a constituent state of a republic. But democracy, despite its range, always follows a chosen path to greatness and its basic rules remain unchanged.
Morsi paid the price for his country has little tradition of a democracy while for Mamata, the ouster is more likely through a silent revolution. But the bottom line is: Both betrayed a massive popular aspiration. This is where democracy has failed.
Nelson Mandela was different and hence was great
Before concluding, we must make a mention about ailing iconic South African leader Nelson Mandela. Mandela, who became the first president of the African state after it came out of the dark age of Apartheid, had all the temptation to retaliate at the foreign elements and encourage an undemocratic culture marked by violence and hatred, but he did not.
But having said that, this is where statesmen differ from ordinary politicians.