Take action! Just saying yes or no is not democratic!

Back on Track with Ivan Krastev

29. May 2018
Magazine > Voices > Take action! Just saying yes or no is not democratic!

Back on Track: Embark with us on a train ride with the renowned political scientist Ivan Krastev and enjoy his sober analysis of the facts to consider when acting for change.

“These days people are in love. And they are in love with referendums. Go around Europe and you are going to see that everybody believes that the only way people are going to be heard in democratic politics is if you’re going to organise a referendum. And everybody is going to say that in the vocabulary of the people, there are only two words: yes and no. I know where this drive for referendums comes from. People have a good reason to be disappointed with democracy the way it is. But can we really live in a political system in which there’s only yes and no? I still remember an old science-fiction story which I read when I was a child. It was a story about a country in which on the day when the president was elected, a bomb was put into his body. Every citizen got a smartphone and after every decision that the president made, people voted yes or no. And after three times of more no-votes than yes-votes, he was going to explode. You can be sure, this president would be very, very careful not to make a mistake and to do what people want him to do. My only question is: are you going to call this regime a democracy? Are we not afraid that by basically just making political leaders do exactly what we want, we can hurt ourselves?”

This text and video is published under the Creative Commons License: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0. The name of the author/rights holder should be mentioned as followed. Author: Jovana Trifunovic and Igor Bararon /
Cover picture: Ivan Krastev, film still. Photo: © Igor Bararon / ERSTE Stiftung.

Back on Track

The video “Take action! Just saying yes or no is not democratic!” is the first episode of the six-part ERSTE Foundation video series “Back on Track” with the political scientist Ivan Krastev about activism and social engagement .