USA: A Bad Example for Emerging Democracies?

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In Turkey, it is very common to see politicians trying to legitimize their actions -mostly- with some irrelevant examples from Western countries. When I heard President Obama’s State of the Union speech, I felt very disappointed and concerned by his following words: “So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

The USA presents a model for the developing countries and emerging democracies in the world as a champion of freedoms and democracy. The unique political system of the US is based on the separation of powers and checks and balances that assures the accountability and the survival of democracy. In the past, the US presidential system was adopted by many countries especially in Latin America. Each time, those countries ended up with authoritarianism since the checks and balances were not there. In my country, the Prime Minister Erdogan has been presenting the idea of presidential system instead of existing semi-presidential system for some time. Very much like the former attempts in the Latin America, the system Erdogan suggests gives extraordinary authority to the president. In his speech on 18 December 2013, while defending presidential system and attacking judiciary; Erdogan has described the separation of powers as the government’s main obstacle, saying it was preventing them from introducing “further services.” * I am sure Erdogan and his government who have been acting both as legislative and executive for some time were pleased to hear that Obama might by-pass the Congress.

This is not the only example that the policies and politics in the USA affect policies in other parts of the world. From LGBT rights to reproductive rights, the conservatism of the USA has a direct impact on many other countries and the lives of people. Can we really say that the recent setbacks in women’s and LGBT’s human rights from Nigeria to India and Uganda have nothing to do with the conservative lobbies in the USA? Thus, all politicians in the USA need to be aware of huge impact and the responsibility of their actions in emerging democracies.

The State of the Union speech of Obama targets mainly the Congress, though its indirect global impact is huge . The possibility to ignore separation of powers is not only a threat to the democracy in the USA, but also a threat to all emerging democracies where the basic human rights and democratic values are not consolidated.

by Derya Kaya

edited by Sophia Mayberry


2 Comments on “USA: A Bad Example for Emerging Democracies?”

  1. I’m glad you bring up the United States’ responsibility to other emerging countries, in presenting a leadership model that will permeate across international borders. It had not occurred to me, when President Obama asserted to bypass Congress, that he was setting an example as one of the world’s most powerful nations. I wonder if he considered the international impacts of that statement before he said it to billions of people. From that perspective, I hope that he chooses to turn more to the checks and balances present in our current state of government, rather than flexing his powers in the executive branch.

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