The Burrow: Is the Wizarding World a Democracy?

by Adela

We have known about the Ministry of Magic since PS/SS, when Ron told Harry about his family and his father’s job. But until GoF, and especially OotP, we hardly knew anything about how it worked. The second time I read OotP, past the hysterics of What is next?, I began to think about the Ministry, the Minister, and all those people who govern the wizards. And I must say that I would not like being a witch under that government. Why?

1) Elections
Fudge has been Minister of Magic since PS/SS, which means at least five years, maybe more. In this time we have not read anything about elections: not made, not prepared. When Fudge hears that Voldemort is back he says, “I will be the Minister who was in charge when You-Know-Who came back.” He does not say, “Oh, my God, how can I be re-elected when this guy has re-appeared under my nose?” Politicians worry about their names and how future generations will remember them, of course, but they are usually busier trying to continue in power. This makes me wonder: 1) Who elects the Ministry? 2) How often? 3) Are there political parties and, in that case, where is the opposition during OotP, with Fudge acting like an angry little boy?

2) Justice
Reading Harry’s hearing in OotP, we can see how justice works in the wizarding world. Fudge, as Minister, can order the aurors to arrest somebody. That is not unusual. But at the hearing we see that his assistants play the role of prosecutors and between the judges we find Fudge himself! The same person who makes the law can order your arrest and be at the same time your accuser and your judge. Where is the separation between powers (legislative, executive and judicial)? Where is the right of having an impartial judge? And we do not know if the accused can have a lawyer in the trial; Harry has not, because Dumbledore presents himself like a witness, not a lawyer. And I will not speak about the people sent to Azkaban without a trial or the aurors using Unforgivable Curses, as we read in GoF. Even if they were lonely facts in a time of war, they are worrying.

3) Control of the mass media
I never thought The Prophet was a very good newspaper (too sensational for me, partial, and not very well written), but it was hard to confirm that it was simply the voice of the Ministry. If not, it is a very curious thing that it always discovers bad things about those people who the Ministry could want to discredit. And, apart from The Quibbler that almost nobody takes seriously, we have not heard about any other newspaper. Yes, there are some “pink magazines,” but I do not consider them as serious information. So we find that there is only one newspaper, and that it says exactly what the Ministry wants it to say. It is a very good form to make sure that nobody will know about your mistakes or abusing of power.

Every government has the duty of making laws about education, but there is a thing known as “freedom of cathedra” that is usually respected in almost every civilized country. The Educational Decrees in OotP, as they tell the teachers what they can or can not say in their classes, are imposing a way of teaching. I do not think it very responsible to make a little piece of law to eliminate every little thing you do not like. Fudge and Umbridge act at this point like a couple of little angry kids. And the worst thing is that they have enough power to do it without any interference (once again: is there not a Parliament or something like that?). They have a special way of understanding education: teach your pupils nothing useful, so they will be easier to manipulate later. When someone leads an authoritarian government, the first thing he does (apart of getting rid of the people who makes troubles) is make sure that not one future citizen will try to think freely.

There are more things I could continue with (the treatment given to muggles, non- and half-humans is worth another editorial), but I think these are enough for this time. I hope to have told enough to explain why I think the Wizarding World is far away from a free country. When they defeat Voldemort I hope they begin to change some things.