Brexit: A Challenge to Democracy and Leadership

by on Jun.30, 2016, under Leadership, Politics & Patriotism

Brexit is not just an exercise in democracy; it is a challenge to democracy. One of the key pillars of democracy is free and fair elections. It has been common knowledge in an election that majority have their way while the minority are protected. The results of Brexit and other recent elections have led many people to discuss the available options when the majorities are wrong. Some Britons have petition the parliament that a second vote is held. It sound entirely a sensible and a democratic idea but wait a minute, what will happen if for argument sake the Brexit vote is repeated and the “remain” wins? Those in the “out” camp may petition for a third election and so on. Given that in Britain you only require 100,000 people for your petition to be heard, going by the figures of the referendum results each side had more than 16 million voters, hence well above the petition threshold. Some Britons have questioned why the referendum was held in the first place, if the referendum was not held today Britain would be a member of the EU today. The results of the Brexit did not only embolden nationalist voices, they challenged democracy itself.

Democracy (the way we know it) may have changed without our knowledge. In US the Republican 2016 presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, arguably has broken the records of the numbers of votes he received in the primaries as compared to other nominees in the previous years. More than 10 million people in a free world voted for Trump, yet many other millions believe that the 10 million people who voted for Trump are wrong hence trump must be stopped by all means.

The world is facing “adaptive challenges” as Professor Ronald Heifetz of Harvard Kennedy School would call them. Frank Luntz speaking on BBC’ HARDtalk on June 23rd 2016, he said that he had spent decades advising clients on the right choices to make, but for the first time in his life he does not know how to solve the problem that exist in American politics. In the past analysts had answers to all questions posed to them, in the case of Brexit when analysts where asked about the full impact of Brexit on the economies around the world I heard many respond, “I don’t know”.  This is the nature of the current problems that the world experiences, the easy solutions presented by technocrats cannot work anymore, do they even know what the solutions are. The world need leaders that are more sensitive to the environment in which we operate today and who can build teams that can tackle the adaptive challenges we face. The world needs adaptive leadership.


David Cameron when announcing his intended resignation he stated that he had been too involved and totally consumed by the need for Britain to remain in the EU but the people of Britain had chosen a different path. He added that it will be appropriate that Britain gets a new captain to steer the Britain ship in the direction of people’s choice. That is both authentic and ethical leadership on David’s part, he is driven by values and vision, he is fair to himself and to the people he leads. He knows when to quit and hand over the ship to a new captain with the values needed in the next phase of Britain. You have done your bit David, thanks for serving the people of Britain and the world at large. Boris Johnson and his team of “out of EU” too deserve commendation too for being magnanimous in victory.

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