By Beatrice E. Rangel
As 2017 draws to a close the world has few reasons to celebrate leadership.
To be sure most democratic leaders preferred to pass on to the sovereign the difficult choices of governance such as the need to reign in Strasbourg’s bureaucracy, deal with migratory crises or execute a long-negotiated peace agreement.
Referenda indeed seemed to gain traction in 2017. According to some political analysts, contrary to what people think, referendums seem to be the best way to cripple -- not develop -- a democratic society.
Critics rest their case on the decision-making deficits represented by a referendum.
To begin with a referendum bypasses a host of institutional arrangements designed to enrich decision making by government. As they reduce a very complex matter to a yes or no decision, people tend to think that governing demands direct decisions unencumbered by bureaucratic considerations.
But, alas these bureaucratic considerations have been designed to promote consensus building, resolve conflicts, reduce bigotry and protect the weakest links in the social chain.
This essentially is a democratic process. Bypassing such a process weakens democratic buildup and democratic decision making. So whenever political leaders chose a referendum to settle a disagreement in a democratic society they implicitly are vouching for authoritarianism while debilitating democratic decision making.
No such thing will happen in Argentina or France where Mauricio Macri and Emmanuel Macron have chosen to make decisions, invite participation in the decision-making process, and lead their societies facing risks and dangers but also obtaining rewards and making progress on the long road to restructuring two economies hit by two different threats.
In Argentina populism carried to its last consequences by the Kirchner strain of Peronism had crippled the economy and destroyed individual initiative. The country was beginning to turn into a big boarding house where everybody lived on government handouts.
In France innovation was being stifled by bureaucracies and educational chaos. Further, political parties had all but kidnapped the citizenry by means of creating a public policy stalemate that was only benefiting the terrorists.
Both Macri and Macron entered politics as outsiders to their respective political systems. Both had to create their own movements, and both had to face head on the forces of the status quo that rejected change.
Three years into the Macri mandate, Argentina shows clear signs of beginning to liberate its century old creativeness thereby restarting growth.
In France, while the economy is improving, what clearly has changed is political sentiment. For the first time since the days when Charles De Gaulle lived at Elysee, the people of France feel optimistic and are ready to accept sacrifices in order to grow better economic results in the near future.
Macron has turned into Mr. Europe and the French youth are for the first time since 1968 participating in public policy formulation.
Both Macri and Macron are no nonsense guys who take decisions rapidly and effectively while educating their citizens into their content. Both are being rewarded with a very special kind of affection by the youth of their countries while other leaders stumble. Beatrice Rangel is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group, which provides growth and partnership opportunities in US and Hispanic markets. AMLA identifies the best potential partner for businesses which are eager to exploit the growing buying power of the US Hispanic market and for US Corporations seeking to find investment partners in Latin America. Previously, she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies.
For her work throughout Latin America, Rangel has been honored with the Order of Merit of May from Argentina, the Condor of the Andes Order from Bolivia, the Bernardo O'Higgins Order by Chile, the Order of Boyaca from Colombia, and the National Order of Jose Matías Delgado from El Salvador.
You can follow her on twitter @BEPA2009 or contact her directly at BRangel@amlaconsulting.com.
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