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Speech at The Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy: 'The State of Democracy", 11 March 2020

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“Democracy is the worst form of government.
Except all the others that have been tried.”

As we all know Winston Churchill once said.
He was of course right.

Today the democratic success story is being challenged.
We cannot take democracy for granted.

We never could perhaps – but today we must come together and stand up for democracy. The threat is real and growing.

Fighting for democracy is not a spectator sport.
It is a full-contact sport.
It is tough.
We need to continue to be brave.

Thank you for the hard work you are doing.

The Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy is doing very important work.


I have three vital points here today.

First point.
We must come together to revitalize democracy.

Democracy still stands strong and continues to get foothold in new corners of the world.

However, democracy at the same time faces new and increasing challenges.

We can see
• Eroding quality of the world’s democracies.
• Democratic backsliding with weakening of checks and balances and curtailment of civil liberties.
• Shrinking space for civil society.

International IDEA, among others, have pointed to these trends in the Global State of Democracy Report 2019.

Secretary General Mr. Kevin Casas-Zamora will present that today.

We must promote the positive trends and counter the negative ones.

In Denmark, we are ready to do our part.

We have set out a clear vision.

Denmark is and will continue to be a significant global defender of human rights, democracy and gender equality.

That is in our strategy for development cooperation and humanitarian action toward 2030.

We will promote these values and rights in a wide range of connections.

We will do that through collaboration with Danish partner countries, civil society, and international organizations as well as through the private sector.

We do that through support to the work of our host here today: The Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy.


Second point.

Democracy is about solidarity.
• Solidarity with countries on their road to democracy.
• Solidarity with the brave advocates for democracy around world.
• Solidarity for a more equal, just and sustainable development in the world.

Denmark will address inequality in all its forms, political as well as economic and social. We will do it globally and in the countries, we work with through our development cooperation.

Making sure that people have voice and that leaders listen to them is at the heart of our effort to tackle inequality.

Gender equality in politics is crucial.

In the Nordic countries, almost 43% of members of parliament are women. In Sub-Saharan Africa, it is almost 24%.

We must ensure that women are included in democracy. We need their experience and voice in any democracy.

Democracy and equality are two sides of the same coin in our work.


Third point.

The youth are central in re-vitalizing democracy.

They are not only the future. They are also the present – here right now.

They are calling for climate action and social justice – and for more democracy.

Young people make up a quarter of the world’s population.
More than half of the population in many developing countries.

However, young people – and especially young women - are often excluded from politics and decision-making.

Listen to these figures:
Young people make up more than 1.8 billion people.
That is a quarter of the world’s population.

However, globally only around 2% of members of parliament are under the age of 30. Young women MPs are only around 1%.

We have to do much better than that.

Shrinking democratic space for youth is a serious issue.

Today, a large part of the democratic conversation takes place online.

However, many young people and especially young women refrain from participating in the conversation.

They fear online bullying, harassment, and threats. Something that we have also seen in the offline world.

This is not ok.

Exclusion and marginalization of young people leave them frustrated.

Young women and men need to be included. We support their efforts, and will help them open the doors of democracy.

Denmark promotes democracy in our development cooperation not only for but also by and with young people.

Their voices must be heard. We must listen now.


The struggle for democracy is about solidarity.

• Solidarity with countries on their road to democracy.
• Solidarity with the brave advocates for democracy.
• Solidarity with the young people – men and women - using their voice.

Denmark will strengthen democracy and human rights support in our development cooperation. 

“Democracy might be the worst form of government.
Except all the others are even worse.”

We have no choice.

We are the ones who are called for to stand up for democracy.

History is calling us.

Our children is calling us.

Once again: Thank you very much for the hard work you are doing.

Let us all work even harder. For solidarity, equality and more democracy.

Thank you.