A democracy means rule by the people. The name is used for different forms of government, where the people can take part in the decisions that affect the way their community is run. In modern times, there are different ways this can be done:
- The people meet to decide about new laws, and changes to existing ones. This is usually called direct democracy.
- The people elect their leaders. These leaders take this decision about laws. This is commonly called representative democracy. The process of choosing is called election. Elections are either held periodically, or when an officeholder dies.
- Sometimes people can propose new laws or changes to existing laws. Usually, this is done using a referendum, which needs a certain number of supporters.
- The people who make the decisions are chosen more or less at random. This is common, for example when choosing a jury for a trial. This method is known as sortition or allotment. In a trial, the jury will have to decide the question whether the person is guilty or not. In Europe, trials with a jury are only used for serious crimes, such as murder, hostage taking or arson.
To become a stable democracy, a state usually undergoes a process of democratic consolidation.
Elections[change | change source]
After people hold an election, the candidates that won are determined. The way this is done can be simple: The candidate with the most votes gets elected. Very often, the politicians being elected belong to a political party. Instead of choosing a person, people vote for a party. The party with the most votes then picks the candidates.
Usually, the people being elected need to meet certain conditions: They need to have a certain age or a government body needs to determine that they are suitably qualified to perform the job.
Not everyone can vote in an election. Suffrage is only given to people who are citizens. Some groups may be excluded, for example prisoners.
For some elections, a country may make voting compulsory. Someone who does not vote, and who does not give a good reason usually has to pay a fine.
Kinds of democracy[change | change source]
Democracy may be direct or indirect.
In a direct democracy, everyone has the right to make laws together. One modern example of direct democracy is a referendum, which is the name for the kind of way to pass a law where everyone in the community votes on it. Direct democracies are not usually used to run countries, because it is hard to get millions of people to get together all the time to make laws and other decisions. There is not enough time.
In an indirect, or representative democracy, people choose representatives to make laws for them. These people can be mayors, councilmen, members of Parliament, or other government officials. This is a much more common kind of democracy. Large communities like cities and countries use this method, but it may not be needed for a small group.
History[change | change source]
Ancient origins[change | change source]
This kind of government was developed long ago by the ancient Greeks in classical Athens. They had everyone who was a citizen (not slaves, women, foreigners, and children) get together in one area. The Assembly would talk about what kinds of laws they wanted and voted on them. The Council would suggest the laws. All citizens were allowed in the Assembly.
The Council were picked by draws (lottery). The participants in the Council would change every year and the number of people in the Council was at the most 500. For some offices the Athenian citizens would pick a leader by writing the name of their favorite candidate on a piece of stone or wood. The person with the most votes became the leader.
Middle Ages[change | change source]
In the Middle Ages, there were many systems in which there were elections, although only a few people could join in at this time. The Parliament of England began from the Magna Carta, a document which said that the King's power was limited, and protected certain rights of the people. The first elected parliament was De Montfort's Parliament in England in 1265.
However, only a few people could actually join in. Parliament was chosen by only a few percent of the people (in 1780, fewer than 3% of people joined in). The ruler also had the power to call parliaments. After a long time, the power of Parliament began to grow. After the Glorious Revolution in 1688, the English Bill of Rights 1689 made Parliament more powerful. Later, the ruler became a symbol instead of having real power.
Other[change | change source]
References[change | change source]
- THE WORD DEMOCRACY
“In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because ther are more of them, and will of the majority is supreme” Aristotle
Democracy is a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. Abraham Lincoln described democracy as:
“The government of the people, by the people and for the people”. It means that in democratic form of government common man plays the pivotal role. The aristocracy, the land lords and politicians have to work according to the wishes of the common man. The main object of their political activities is thus the welfare, betterment and amelioration of the poor masses of the country who elect them as their representatives and to whom they are answerable for their duties and responsibilities.
In ancient ages it was also practiced in countries like Greece, Rome and Sub-continent. We are informed of Greek and Roman senators in those times who always dwelt by the majority decision. This led them to become great nations which were looked upto for intelligence and way of life. Since the end of cold war, many countries across the glove have chosen democracy as the form of government. Today most of the world’s powerful countries, international organizations and political science experts see democracy as a natural choice in comparison to dictatorship.
Democracy is a Greek invention created by some of the ancient Greek city states in particular Athens. Athenian democracy was a direct democracy. Citizens not including women children, slaves, resident foreigners i.e., the majority of the population-gathered together to discuss and decide on the policies of the state. Within this minority participation, equality and freedom was unrivaled. The word ‘Democracy’ combines the elements ‘Demos’ which means ‘People’ and ‘Kratos’ meaning ‘Force, power’. In the words ‘Monarchy’ means ‘rule, leading or being first’. It is possible that the term ‘Democracy’ was coined by its detractors. Who rejected the possibility of the term was adopted whole heartedly by Athenian democrats. People in the ancient times wondered if the Athens could survive this devastating lifestyle. And now around the globe many countries have chosen democracy as the form of government.
Talking about the merits or advantages of democracy I would say that democracy can provide for changes in government without violence. In a democracy power can be transformed from one part to another by means of elections. The jurisdiction of the citizens of a nation determines its ruling authorities. Moreover, any government is bound by an election term after which it has to compete against other parties to regain authority. This system prevents monopoly of the ruling authority. This brings in a feeling of obligation towards the citizens. The ruling authorities owe their success in the elections to the citizens of the nation. This results in a feeling of gratefulness towards the people. It can serve as their motivation to work for the people for it is the common masses that have complete power over choosing their government. Another important advantage of democracy is that the people gain a sense of participation in the process of choosing their government. They get the opportunity to voice their opinions by means of electoral votes. This gives rise to a feeling of belonging in the mind of the people towards their society.
Democracy does also have its demerits. In a democratic nation it’s the citizens who hold the right to elect their representatives and their governing authorities. According to a common observation, not all the citizens are fully aware of the political scenario in their country. The common masses may not be aware of the political issues in society. This may result in people making the wrong choices during election. As the government is subject to change after election term, the authorities may work with a short-term focus. As they have to face an election after the completion of each term, they may lose focus on working for the people and rather focus on winning elections. Another disadvantage is that mobs can influence people. Citizens may vote in favor of a part under the influence of the majority. Compelled or influenced by the philosophies of those around, a person may not voice his/her true opinion.
While democracy today appears to be the most popular choice when it comes to choosing a form of government, it brings with it many complications that would be absent in a dictatorship. When a part is in majority it becomes difficult in a democracy to force unacceptable principles down the throat of the public. When this is made possible, it leads to outrage. Making bold decisions for long term prosperity, executing controversial decisions and making better choices for the decisions and making better choices for the common good can be very complicated processes in a democratic form of government. In Pakistan sectarianism, illiteracy, bribery system and poor economic condition have deteriorated our social and political structure. Most of our so-called politicians and law makers are illiterate. Their pockets are full of money but their minds are devoid of wisdom. The law makers are the law breakers. They themselves are involved in such heinous crimes then from whom should we expect a democratic and corruption free government and governance?