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From Turkey: U.S. election may encourage – or erode – global democracy

The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey. (Bilge Nur Guven/YJI)

ISTANBUL – America, the land of opportunity and dreams. The bedrock of democracy and freedom. A true global power.

Everyone, regardless of nationality, religion, race, sexuality, or place of residence on Earth, is watching the American electoral process closely.

Parnian Shahsavary/YJI

Is this for purely entertainment purposes? I’m afraid not.

The United States of America, for many decades, was seen as a beacon of democracy, a place where anyone’s dreams could come true. This picture-perfect image, however, seems to have evolved in a rather pessimistic direction over the past few years.

When I told my friends and family I was considering higher education in the U.S., the response I received was full of fear and concern.

Only five to 10 years ago, such an aspiration would be exuberantly encouraged. Instead, I was advised by everyone that it was not safe and I should not go. In the end, I was convinced of the danger myself.

In a presidential democracy such as the U.S., the president is the perceived government and embodiment of the nation.

With Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential elections, America, in a manner of speaking, became one with Trump.

The biggest threat that Trump – and the U.S. – presents to the world is the decay of global democracy.

There exists a great ripple effect among political regimes around the world, increasing by the second as communication technology develops.

Academic literature on democratic transitions can provide insight. It shows that the third wave of democratization began in 1974 in Portugal and included the historic democratic transitions in Latin America in the 1980s, in Asia Pacific countries from 1986 to 1988, in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union and sub-Saharan Africa beginning in 1989.

A street in Istanbul. (Bilge Nur Guven/YJI)

This data shows us that governmental regimes are affected by others around the world.

Given its unique power in world affairs, any event in the U.S. has an incredibly large ripple effect all around the globe.

This can be about climate policy, fast food or, as is the case this November, an election.

Though extremely imperfect, America is one of the oldest established democracies in the world.

At the moment, this country has a president who doesn’t hold democratic principles. What does this mean for fragile or developing democratic regimes in other parts of the world?

If, with the aftermath of the U.S. elections, democracy takes a bad beating, other democratic systems could easily fall onto the same path, resulting in dire consequences for citizens. Additionally, Trump’s hateful values hold a unique power in spreading animosity and violence.

Depending on the election results and Trump and his supporters’ reactions, hostility will threaten to take over the entire world, not just America.

So, please, for the sake of every living thing on Earth, vote on November 3rd.

Bilge Nur Güven is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

The World is Watching is an ongoing series with commentary from YJI students outside the U.S. about the American election. Read more:

From Bangladesh: Vote for democracy and free speech

From Panama: Don’t let history repeat itself

From England: America, your decision is important

From Mexico: U.S. election will impact our economy

From Canada: We’re counting on you, America

From Nigeria: U.S. election means as much as our own

Polarized and burning, the world needs Americans to vote

From Australia: fascinated, worried by American election

From Morocco: America, we care how you vote

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