“Democracy is built on inclusion, equal treatment, and participation — and it is a fundamental building block for peace, sustainable development and human rights,” per the 2019 Day of Democracy’s site.
This international event, on 15 September, aims to be a yearly opportunity to review the state of democracy around the world.
The chosen theme for this year is particularly significant for us in Smartmatic– “Participation.”
The active, substantive, and meaningful participation of all stakeholders in decision-making is critical to building real democracy. The process, however, must be a two-way street of constant dialogue between civil society and the political class, with real influence on political decisions.
Democracy is a multifaceted and dynamic social and political system. While it shares standard features and values around the world, there is no one single model. This unique feature of democracy makes it challenging for governments, institutions, and election management bodies to ensure responsive, inclusive and popular participation.
Additionally, decision-making at all levels should be accessible, transparent, and subject to public accountability and periodic renewal.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres recently noted that “the 2019 International Day of Democracy takes place at a time when trust is low, and anxiety is high. People are frustrated by growing inequalities and unsettled by sweeping changes from globalization and technology.”
Therefore, it is particularly relevant during these uncertain times for democracy, to offer answers and promote political participation, representative policymaking, respect and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Can technology be the answer?
“Technology can be the catalyst for the transformation democracy needs.” This is one of the ideas that Antonio Mugica, Smartmatic’s CEO, has championed over time.
During his last speech at eMerge Americas, for instance, Mugica explained the significance of embracing technology to enhance democratic governance and boost participation. “Democracy is at a crossroad. We must transcend the traditional election cycle and use technology to fight disengagement and the lack of trust in democratic institutions. We must use the tools at our disposal to build a stronger and more meaningful dialogue between citizens and their representatives.”
Holding periodic, genuine, free and fair elections by universal and equal suffrage is no longer enough to sustain democracies. In a digital era, democratic institutions and voters are requiring effective, efficient and more neutral support to make technology a secure and trustworthy ally.
What a better way to support democratic values than fostering easier, faster, more secure, accessible and reliable participation through advanced election management services and sound voting technology systems? This is exactly what inspires us at Smartmatic, and one of the reasons we celebrate today the key intersection between democracy and technology.
Happy International Day of Democracy!