New technologies certainly hold out hope for democracy, according to Académie française member Amin Maalouf

Amin MAALOUF, Author, Member of the Académie française Amin MAALOUF, Author, Member of the Académie française

In his address to the opening ceremony of the World Forum for Democracy, Franco-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf emphasised the importance of devising new mechanisms enabling citizens, who are now surfers as well, to have real influence on their leaders' thoughts and on political decision-making. One-track thinking, especially in the economic sphere, is one of the reasons why democracy is to some extent in decline, as is evident from disaffection within the electorate.

An opportunity was missed when the Cold War ended and political pluralism prevailed over one-party systems. That was when consideration should have been given to the substance and operation of democracy, citizens given a greater role and new life breathed into politics. That was not done, and citizens and their election votes have hardly any effect on governments' decisions.

New technologies offer considerable scope for progress by disseminating knowledge and making it possible to express views without any restraint. "Where democracy is concerned, however, that progress is still latent", according to Amin Maalouf, who said that, if communication and discussion tools which are undeniably promising are to become "something other than a superficial outlet, an instrument for immediate agitation", new mechanisms need to be devised. This is how the Strasbourg Forum "can make a significant contribution to the necessary process of rescuing democracy".