We are worrying about whether democracy itself might have been permanently damaged in the last four years. — Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President
We are worrying about whether democracy itself might have been permanently damaged in the last four years. — Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President
World leaders are worried Trump 'permanently' damaged democracy, EU chief says
  • World leaders are concerned former President Donald Trump did irreversible damage to democracy, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
  • "We are worrying about whether democracy itself might have been permanently damaged in the last four years," she said, expressing horror at the Capitol siege.
  • The EU chief said Trump and the Capitol attack showed how important it is to "address the darker sides of the digital world."
"A year ago, my bilateral talks revolved primarily around the question: Would the US government impose punitive tariffs on European carmakers? Today, a year later, we are worrying about whether democracy itself might have been permanently damaged in the last four years," von der Leyen said during a virtual speech at the Davos Agenda summit, hosted by the World Economic Forum.

... "Images like we saw a few weeks ago, when an angry mob stormed the Capitol, were beyond my imagination," von der Leyen said.

"Like for so many of us, the storming of the Capitol came as a shock to me," von der Leyen went on to say. "We are always quick to say: Democracy and values, they are part of our DNA. And that is true. But we must nurture our democracy every day, and defend our institutions against the corrosive power of hate speech, disinformation, fake news and incitement to violence."

"In a world where polarizing opinions are the loudest, it is a short step from crude conspiracy theories to the death of a police officer," she added, and the Capitol siege "unfortunately" showed the world just how "true" that is.

... Von Der Leyen is not alone in her concerns about the long-term impact of Trump's presidency on global democracy. Trump spent years showering dictators with flattery while undermining democratic institutions in the US. From habitually attacking the free press to attempting to overturn a free and fair election, Trump repeatedly skirted democratic norms and mirrored the behavior of authoritarian leaders.

Leaders across the globe condemned Trump over the Capitol siege, and expressed dismay about the consequences for democracy more broadly. "The enemies of democracy will be happy about these unbelievable pictures from Washington, DC," Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister, said in a tweet.

And as the leader of a country as powerful as the US, political scientists have warned that Trump has potentially helped validate democracy-eroding practices from leaders in other parts of the world.

"Trump's push to overturn the election results may undermine democracy abroad by legitimizing anti-democratic behaviors. We have already seen leaders in Hungary, Turkey, and elsewhere emulate Trump's rhetoric about 'fake news' to dismiss criticism," Erica de Bruin, a political scientist at Hamilton College, recently told Insider.
Read the full article: https://www.businessinsider.com/eu-chief-world-leaders-worried-trump-permanently-damaged-democracy-2021-1