Democracy Summit: what is the US trying to achieve?
US President Joe Biden has invited 110 governments to an online Summit for Democracy starting today to discuss ways to strengthen democracy. Three topics are to form the core of the debates: combating authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and strengthening human rights. Hungary, Russia and China, among others, will be absent, but Poland and Brazil are taking part.
Taking a stand against the decline
The initiative is also directed against Russia, writes Público:
“Russia buried the communist ideology many years ago and replaced it with an aggressive nationalism. Many analysts describe the regime Putin has built over the last two decades as a 'kleptocracy' in which the president's entourage has appropriated the country's wealth and amassed an unprecedented fortune that it can only keep if it remains loyal to the leader. More and more regimes around the world display these characteristics, but they have less power and wealth. ... It is one of the American president's motivations to reverse this autocratic trend or at least stop the democratic regression.”
Polityka commentator Marek Ostrowski finds the guest list surprising:
“The list of invited governments for which the Americans have certified good democratic conduct, nolens volens, is long and includes more than half of all the countries in the world. ... It shames me to say it, but according to a study based on a dozen detailed indicators, Poland is the country with the sharpest decline in democracy worldwide - ahead of Hungary, Turkey and Brazil! Yet Poland received an invitation to the Biden summit while Hungary did not. Turkey is not on the list either, although it is an important ally in NATO, yet Pakistan and Iraq are. Washington is doing political acrobatics.”
How legitimate is the USA as host?
The meaningfulness of the summit is questionable not just because of the choice of guests, finds Le Temps:
“The question of whether the US is fit to bring together over a hundred countries to defend democracy also arises: the events on Capitol Hill earlier this year and Trump's refusal to accept his defeat weaken Washington's claim to lead a new movement for consolidating democracy. In the end, however, it is certainly not futile for democratic countries to meet to examine together how the system can function in the digital and Internet age, to share experiences and learn how to arm themselves against attacks.”
We are citizens, not users
El País calls for regulation of the Internet to protect democracy:
“We spend a large part of our lives online. ... That's why we need to talk about democracy on the Internet, which until now has been a wild west devoid of governance. ... Today, digital governance is needed to defend, strengthen and renew democracy. ... We need a supranational institution, but to get to that point we first need civil society to demand it. ... Let's raise our voices and say loud and clear: 'We are citizens, not users'. ... That's how it was with the industrial revolution, and that's how it should be with the digital revolution.”