Asser president Ernst Hirsch Ballin: “Do we want a de​mocracy that divides or one that makes connections?”

Published 6 May 2019

During his May 5 Liberation Day speech in the Johannes de Doperkerk in Wageningen, Asser Institute president Ernst Hirsch Ballin called for reflection upon the big questions on democracy that we are facing today. “A connecting democracy has more future than an order in which those who are in power settle accounts with those who are not.”

Three quarters of a century since the end of World War II, Mr Hirsch Ballin urged the audience in Wageningen to reconsider the question what kind of a democracy do we want to pass on to ‘those who are too young to vote and their children, allowing them to breathe in peace and justice’.

Sustainable democracy

Mr Hirsch Ballin said: “Do we want a democracy that divides or one that makes connections? A democracy that uses up resources or a sustainable democracy? A democracy that is focused solely on the present or one that takes in the interests of future generations as well? A democracy that entrenches itself or one that seeks cooperation with other democracies?

Mr Hirsch Ballin further said that ‘simply casting a protest vote during elections   is not really a contribution to democracy’, if one simply rejects policies.

‘In a society in which debating qualities seem to have become more important in campaigns than these claims actually being factually correct and meaningful, citizens only make full use of their democratic rights by having- and expressing a view on the future of our society.”

Hirsch Ballin spoke at the invitation of the Nationaal Comité Herdenking Capitulaties 1945.

Read the speech here.