The Albanian thinks democracy is under threat

He is too sweeping. He himself is a very popular leader and Scott Morrison must the be the most wishy washy authoritarian ever. So where is the threat to democracy in that?

The USA could be a better case for a breakdown of democracy, with the Left going all out to suppress conservative comment. They have censored one of my blogs, even. But the election underway there at the moment will see the Left lose control of Congress so that will put a stop to any new moves in that direction

Russia, Iran, China and the African and Arab states are a different matter, of course. Democracy has never flourished there

Anthony Albanese says the hammer attack on US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, is a symptom of the increased polarisation and extremism of political discourse across the West.

“The attack on Mr Pelosi was horrifying – to think that something like that could happen,” the Prime Minister said in an exclusive interview.

Mr Albanese described dem­ocracy as “fragile” and said the contest between democracy and authoritarianism was part of the broader strategic competition between democracy and the various different types of authoritarianism around the world.

“Democrats have to stand up for democracy; we can’t duck these issues,” he said.

Mr Albanese was critical of his predecessor, Scott Morrison, for not denouncing former US president Donald Trump for inspiring the riots on Washington’s Capitol Hill on January 6 last year by supporters who believed the presidential election had been stolen.

“Then prime minister Scott Morrison was alone, really, among democratic leaders in not calling it out; in the UK, France, Germany, Canada, it was called out and it should have been,” he said. “The circumstances in the US, with people almost in paramilitary gear, is a concern. That concern has been expressed, quite rightly, by President (Joe) Biden.”

Mr Albanese said he has been worried for years about increasing extremism and intolerance in political exchanges.

“Much of the debate in politics generally has got far worse” during the quarter of a century he had been in parliament, he said.

Mr Albanese has drawn attention to increased polarisation, to people suffering “conflict fatigue”, and to the role of social media.

“The way political discourse is being conducted is far less civil. I think it is of real concern,” he said. “I can look at any time at a ­social media feed of mine and find something (in response) that is completely over the top.

“You see the rise of social media where people, sometimes anonymously, behind anonymous handles, will say things that they would never say face-to-face. “That then leads to responses and to an escalation that is ­extraordinary.”

All of this, he said, had a damaging effect on politics itself. “It undermines people’s participation in the process,” Mr Albanese said. “I think for young people considering going into politics, they’ve got to worry about what will be said about them. They’ve also got to worry about what’s on their social media feed from 30 years ago.”

Such entries furnished “gotcha” moments to be used against people, he said. “We’re going to end up with no one who has ever done anything interesting participating.”

The Prime Minister also called for media companies to take a more discriminating attitude to what they allowed to be published and broadcast: “Some of the media commentary is far more aggressive and I think that media operators have a responsibility to be more responsible about that.”

He contended that much of the political debate carried out on social media was far too ­simplistic: “A lot of these issues don’t have a 24-hour time grab, or don’t have an easy sound-bite grab. Dealing with the energy crisis, for example, is not a simple thing.”

Most of all, he wanted people committed to democracy from all parts of the political spectrum to behave with civility and to defend democratic principles.

“Sophistication in political dialogue is an asset,” he said. “It’s something that we have that differentiates us from the lack of political discourse in Russia, for example.”

Mr Albanese made his remarks as part of the most wide-ranging and forthright interview he has done on foreign policy and national security since coming to office in May.


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