Civil Society Space — [Mr Andrew Turner in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:15 pm on 26th January 2017.

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Photo of Khalid Mahmood Khalid Mahmood Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) (Europe) 3:15 pm, 26th January 2017

It is always a pleasure to serve under your stewardship, Mr Rosindell. I thank Jim Shannon for securing this important debate.

A well-placed civil society has always been a hallmark of a successful, stable democracy. A Government alone, no matter how efficient, cannot run a country effectively and harness all its potential unless they use the will and involvement of all the people in it. We want to ensure that people power, in tandem with government, starts to work effectively to provide proper and clear democratic structures for societies.

Unfortunately, part of the problem is that, when elections are held, we call the institutions and countries democratic. Democracy entails a structure—a structure of accountability, transparency and rule of law. Unless those things are taken into account by a nation or country, we should question whether they have democratic institutions or whether they are a democratic country. We get too easily waylaid by the perception of democracy as people having elections. First, we need to account for whether those participating in an election are properly selected to their posts. Is a democratic selection taking place? Do they have limits on their spending power and, I would go so far as to say, limits on their buying power in those countries? How are they elected? Is the value of that vote independent and transparent, or is it purely down to whom they can intimidate, what they can buy and what they can pressurise people to vote for?