Le drame de la démocratie en Asie

GENÈVE – Le spectre politique de l’Asie couvre le despotisme brutal de la Corée du Nord à la monarchie constitutionnelle éclairée du Bhutan (si éclairée en fait qu’elle a créé un indice du bonheur national brut en tant que mesure alternative au produit national brut), en passant par une palette étendue de nuances politiques entre les deux extrêmes. Pourtant, le préjugé tenace voulant que l’Asie ne soit pas faite pour la démocratie à l‘Occidentale ressort encore du lot. Les sceptiques ont-ils raison de l’être ?

En Asie de l’Est et du Sud, les démocraties sont plus nombreuses que les dictatures par un compte de 17 à six. Mais les démocraties vivent des temps agités. L’impasse politique de la Thaïlande, au milieu des manifestations de masse contre un gouvernement élu démocratiquement, a fait les manchettes de la presse internationale. Les élections au Bangladesh ont également fait l’objet de violentes protestations. Des violations généralisées des droits de la personne se sont produites au Sri Lanka. Les Cambodgiens ont subi une répression politique brutale. Et la vie politique de la plus grande démocratie du monde, l’Inde, est empreinte de rancune et de turbulences.

En revanche, la notion de l’exclusivité démocratique est à la fois erronée et historiquement de courte vue. Même si tous les pays occidentaux sont actuellement des démocraties, ce n’est le cas que depuis les années 1990. Il y a moins d’un demi-siècle, le nombre de démocraties à l’Ouest se comptait sur les doigts de la main. Et même ces dernières étaient imparfaites : selon le premier critère de la démocratie, à savoir le suffrage universel, les États-Unis ne pouvaient être considérés comme une véritable démocratie qu’après la reconnaissance des droits de la personne dans les années soixante.

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