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International Democracy Day - statement by the President of the Commission

15/09/2016

Council of Europe, Strasbourg - on the occasion of the International Democracy Day, the President of the Venice Commission Gianni Buquicchio made the following statement:

"The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, throughout its existence, has strenuously worked towards achieving democracy though law in Europe and beyond. Democracy is not a label. It is not by putting the word “democracy” in a constitution or in the name of a country that they become democratic. Democracy is a continuous process and is never fully achieved, nor irreversible. Good legal texts are not sufficient: democracy is to be implemented everyday by every state institution, every single official but also by each and every individual.

Free and fair elections alone are not sufficient. Democracy without rule of law and the protection of human rights becomes an empty box. The Venice Commission is convinced that democracy is far from being only a legal concept. It is instead a cultural achievement, and it is thus paramount that we, as international organisations, spread a culture of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

Democracy is going through difficult times. We witness daily threats and challenges to democratic institutions. Illiberal democracies emerge, where the winner takes all and makes sure to remain in power. The Venice Commission has been relentless in opposing these tendencies, recommending improvements to constitutions and laws, assisting parliaments, governments and constitutional courts of its 61 members. On the occasion of the International Day of Democracy I feel proud to be the President of this Venice Commission."
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