Commentary and opinion on national and regional politics by Seema Malhotra

Monday, 14 September 2009

Could a soft power partnership between Parliament and the People finally change our democracy?

At a packed room in SOAS tonight, Young Fabians and Fabian women came together to talk about Revisioning our democracy. It was a fascinating debate, with discussion around women in politics, hard and soft power and lessons from Abroad. Brazil has a fascinating experience of democratic spaces that operate outside of formal political structures; spaces in which citizens come together to make or veto decisions; spaces, as they were described, with "teeth". What was interesting is the fact that the democratized culture of Brazil is in someways a conseqence of the fight against oppression, that equalised the nation. It was an engine of injustice from which new and power sharing democratic structures emerged. It did lead to the question as to what might end up being the deep drive for change in Britain; the position of unempowerment or disempowerment that collectively results in a united move for change and consensus on new models of democracy. But perhaps that wont be our evolution. Perhaps the haves and the have nots in terms of power are too split and disunited in our society to lead us to have a journey like Brazil into a new democratic reality. It might well be that the Fabian inevitability of gradualness is how our change comes about, perhaps with a little radicalism inserted from the women and youth. For coverage of the discussion, visit