The Popularity Of Executions

Feb 13 2013 @ 2:42pm

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Lexington considers whether abolishing the death penalty is anti-democratic:

In every Western democracy that has scrapped the death penalty, politicians have acted against the wishes of a majority of voters. If you were to draw a pyramid of accountability (or its lack), the pinnacle would be occupied by the European Union, which has made abolition of the death penalty a condition for membership of the club, irrespective of the wishes of any voter or political party. A European politician running on a platform of restoring capital punishment would be wasting his and the voters’ time, unless he was willing to leave the EU as well.

The post continues:

So is abolition democratic at all? That depends on what version of democratic accountability you favour. The most combative abolitionists, such as Mario Cuomo, openly argue that they know better than their voters, and are saving them from their baser instincts. This represents the representative model eloquently outlined by Edmund Burke, when he told his 18th century constituents in Bristol that while he was most interested in their opinions, and would attentively listen to them, he would reject any talk of “authoritative instructions” or “mandates issued” which he might be expected to obey, even when they ran counter to his own conscience and judgment.

(Map from Wikipedia)