Biden defends 'imperfect' democracy in US

·1-min read

US President Joe Biden has used his Memorial Day speech to defend the country's "imperfect" democracy, calling for more work to deliver the promise of what he said remained "the greatest experiment" in world history.

In a speech at Arlington National Cemetery touching on voting rights, freedom of speech and efforts to rectify persistent economic and racial disparities, Biden warned that democracy was "in peril" in the United States and around the world in the face of autocratic forces he did not identify.

"Democracy is more than a form of government, it's a way of being, a way of seeing the world. Democracy means the rule of the people," Biden said in a speech to honour 1 million people who have lost their lives in US military service.

"The struggle for democracy is taking place around the world - democracy and autocracy. The struggle for decency, dignity, just simple decency," he said.

Speaking in the largely empty Arlington Memorial Amphitheatre with the country still in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, Biden said 7036 people had died in recent US conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving the ideals of the United States and democracy as a vibrant form of government.

"They lived for it, they died for it," he said.

"We owe the honoured dead... our full best efforts to perfect the Union for which they died."