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Foreign Minister Burkhalter ‘Democracy is a complex and vulnerable process’

Burkhalter during a speech earlier this year 

(Keystone)

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter says democracies are subject to constant changes and need strong institutions as well as a political culture.

Speaking on the International Day of Democracy on Tuesday, Burkhalter said such a system is complex and fragile, and takes time to develop.

“Working for democracy is a constant work in progress for all of us. Democracy is not a static framework, it is a system driven by the people, changing accordingly; it is as much a process as it is a goal,” he declared.

Burkhalter stressed that accountability is a key element of democracy, and that “political and administrative decisions need to be taken in the interest of the people, and it underlines the necessity to keep spaces open for democratic debate”.

He added that lack of civic engagement is one of the challenges facing a mature democratic system, while other threats are conflict, corruption, lack of resources or autocratic traditions.

IDEA

Burkhalter said Switzerland had found its own form of democracy but did not claim to have a model to export to other countries.

He was a addressing an extraordinary session of the Council of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) in Sweden.

Switzerland currently chairs IDEA, an intergovernmental organisation supporting sustainable democracy worldwide. It was set up in 1995 and has 28 members.

Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch


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