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Democracy is a political government carried out either directly by the people (direct democracy) or by means of elected representatives of the people (Representative democracy). The term is derived from the Greek: δημοκρατία - (dēmokratía) "rule of the people",[1] which was coined from δῆμος (dêmos) "people" and κράτος (krátos) "power", in the middle of the fifth-fourth century BC to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens following a popular uprising in 508 BC.[2] Even though there is no specific, universally accepted definition of 'democracy',[3] there are two principles that any definition of democracy includes: equality and freedom. [4] These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to power. [5] and the freedom of its citizens is secured by legitimized rights and liberties which are generally protected by a constitution.[6][7].[6][7]

There are several varieties of democracy, some of which provide better representation and more freedoms for their citizens than others.[8][9] However, if any democracy is not carefully legislated – through the use of balances – to avoid an uneven distribution of political power, such as the separation of powers, then a branch of the system of rule could accumulate power and become harmful to the democracy itself.[10][11][12]

The "majority rule" is often described as a characteristic feature of democracy, but without responsible government or constitutional protections of individual liberties from democratic power, it is possible for dissenting individuals to be oppressed by the "tyranny of the majority". An essential process in representative democracies is competitive elections, that are fair both substantively[13] and procedurally.[14] Furthermore, freedom of political expression, freedom of speech and freedom of the press are essential so that citizens are informed and able to vote in their personal interests.[15][16]

Popular sovereignty is common but not a universal motivating subject for establishing a democracy. In some countries, democracy is based on the philosophical principle of equal rights. Many people use the term "democracy" as shorthand for liberal democracy, which may include additional elements such as political pluralism; equality before the law; the right to petition elected officials for redress of grievances; due process; civil liberties; human rights; and elements of civil society outside the government.

In the United States, separation of powers is often cited as a supporting attribute, but in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, the dominant philosophy is parliamentary sovereignty (though in practice judicial independence is generally maintained). In other cases, "democracy" is used to mean direct democracy. Though the term "democracy" is typically used in the context of a political state, the principles are applicable to private organizations and other groups also.

Democracy has its origins in Ancient Greece.[17][18] However other cultures have significantly contributed to the evolution of democracy such as Ancient Rome,[17] Europe,[17] and North and South America.[19] The concept of representative democracy arose largely from ideas and institutions that developed during the European Middle Ages and the Age of Enlightenment and in the American and French Revolutions.[20] Democracy has been called the "last form of government" and has spread considerably across the globe.[21] The Right to vote has been expanded in many Jurisdictions over time from relatively narrow groups (such as wealthy men of a particular ethnic group), with New Zealand the first nation to grant universal suffrage for all its citizens in 1893. Suffrage still remains a controversial issue with regard to disputed territories, areas with significant immigration, and countries that exclude certain demographic groups.

Contents

History of democracy

Ancient origins

The term democracy first appeared in ancient Greek political and philosophical thought. The philosopher Plato contrasted democracy, the system of "rule by the governed", with the alternative systems of monarchy (rule by one individual), oligarchy (rule by a small élite class) and timocracy (ruling class of property owners).[22] Although Athenian democracy is today considered by many to have been a form of direct democracy, originally it had two distinguishing features: firstly the allotment (selection by lot) of ordinary citizens to government offices and courts,[23] and secondarily the assembly of all the citizens[24].

All citizens were eligible to speak and vote in the Assembly, which set the laws of the city-state. However, the Athenian citizenship was only for males born from a father who was citizen and who had been doing their "military service" between 18 and 20 years old; this excluded women, slaves, foreigners (μετοίκος / metoikos) and males under 20 years old. Of the 250,000 inhabitants only some 30,000 on average were citizens. Of those 30,000 perhaps 5,000 might regularly attend one or more meetings of the popular Assembly. Most of the officers and magistrates of Athenian government were allotted; only the generals (strategoi) and a few other officers were elected.[2]

A possible example of primitive democracy may have been the early Sumerian city-states.[25] A similar proto-democracy or oligarchy existed temporarily among the Medes (ancient Iranian people) in the 6th century BC, but which came to an end after the Achaemenid (Persian) Emperor Darius the Great declared that the best monarchy was better than the best oligarchy or best democracy.[26]

A serious claim for early democratic institutions comes from the independent "republics" of India, sanghas and ganas, which existed as early as the sixth century BC and persisted in some areas until the fourth century AD. The evidence is scattered and no pure historical source exists for that period. In addition, Diodorus (a Greek historian at the time of Alexander the Great's excursion of India), without offering any detail, mentions that independent and democratic states existed in India.[27] However, modern scholars note that the word democracy at the third century BC and later had been degraded and could mean any autonomous state no matter how oligarchic it was.[28][29] The lack of the concept of citizen equality across caste system boundaries lead many scholars to believe that the true nature of ganas and sanghas would not be comparable to that of truly democratic institutions.[30]

Even though the Roman Republic contributed significantly into certain aspects of democracy, only a minority of Romans were citizens. As such, having votes in elections for choosing representatives and then the votes of the powerful were given more weight through a system of Gerrymandering. For that reason, almost all high officials, including members of the Senate, came from a few wealthy and noble families.[31] However, many notable exceptions did occur.

Democracy Index as published in January, 2007. The palest blue countries get a score above 9.5 out of 10 (with Sweden being the most democratic country at 9.88), while the black countries score below 2 (with North Korea being the least democratic at 0.86).

Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, there were various systems involving elections or assemblies, although often only involving a small amount of the population, the election of Gopala in Bengal, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Althing in Iceland, certain medieval Italian city-states such as Venice, the tuatha system in early medieval Ireland, the Veche in Novgorod and Pskov Republics of medieval Russia, Scandinavian Things, The States in Tirol and Switzerland and the autonomous merchant city of Sakai in the 16th century in Japan. However, participation was often restricted to a minority, and so may be better classified as oligarchy. Most regions in medieval Europe were ruled by clergy or feudal lords.

A little closer to modern democracy were the Cossack republics of Ukraine in the 16th-17th centuries: Cossack Hetmanate and Zaporizhian Sich. The highest post - the Hetman - was elected by the representatives from the country's districts. Because these states were very militarised, the right to participate in Hetman's elections was largely restricted to those who served in the Cossack Army and over time was curtailed effectively limiting these rights to higher army ranks.

Magna Carta, 1215, England

The Parliament of England had its roots in the restrictions on the power of kings written into Magna Carta, explicitly protected certain rights of the King's subjects, whether free or fettered — and implicitly supported what became English writ of habeas corpus, safeguarding individual freedom against unlawful imprisonment with right to appeal. First elected parliament was De Montfort's Parliament in England in 1265.

However only a small minority actually had a voice; Parliament was elected by only a few percent of the population (less than 3% in 1780.[32]), and power to call parliament was at the pleasure of the monarch (usually when he or she needed funds) and the system had problematic features such as rotten boroughs, of which measures were taken against notably Reform Act 1832 that introduced wide-ranging changes to the electoral system of the United Kingdom, increasing the size of electorate by 50–80%. After Glorious Revolution 1688, English Bill of Rights 1689 was enacted, which codified certain rights and increased the influence of Parliament.[32] The franchise was slowly increased and Parliament gradually gained more power until monarch became largely a figurehead.[33]

Democracy was also seen to a certain extent in bands and tribes such as the Iroquois Confederacy. However, in the Iroquois Confederacy only the males of certain clans could be leaders and some clans were excluded. Only the oldest females from the same clans could choose and remove the leaders. This excluded most of the population. An interesting detail is that there should be consensus among the leaders, not majority support decided by voting, when making decisions.[34][35]

Band societies, such as the Bushmen, which usually number 20-50 people in the band often do not have leaders and make decisions based on consensus among the majority. In Melanesia, farming village communities have traditionally been egalitarian and lacking in a rigid, authoritarian hierarchy. Although a "Big man" or "Big woman" could gain influence, that influence was conditional on a continued demonstration of leadership skills, and on the willingness of the community. Every person was expected to share in communal duties, and entitled to participate in communal decisions. However, strong social pressure encouraged conformity and discouraged individualism.[36]

18th and 19th centuries

Number of nations 1800-2003 scoring 8 or higher on Polity IV scale, another widely used measure of democracy.

Although not described as a democracy by the founding fathers, the United States founders shared a determination to root the American experiment in the principle of natural freedom and equality. [37] The United States Constitution, adopted in 1788, provided for an elected government and protected civil rights and liberties for some.

In the colonial period before 1776, and for some time after, only adult white male property owners could vote; enslaved Africans, free black people and women were not extended the franchise. On the American frontier, democracy became a way of life, with widespread social, economic and political equality.[38] However, slavery was a social and economic institution, particularly in eleven states in the American South, that a variety of organizations were established advocating the movement of black people from the United States to locations where they would enjoy greater freedom and equality.[39]

During the 1820s and 1830s the American Colonization Society (A.C.S.) was the primary vehicle for proposals to return black Americans to freedom in Africa. It had broad support nationwide among anti-slavery and abolitionist white people, including prominent leaders such as Henry Clay and James Monroe, who saw this as preferable to emancipation in America, and in 1821 the A.C.S. established colony of Liberia, assisting thousands of former African-American slaves and free black people to move there from the United States.[39]

By the 1840s almost all property restrictions were ended and nearly all white adult male citizens could vote; and turnout averaged 60–80% in frequent elections for local, state and national officials. The system gradually evolved, from Jeffersonian Democracy to Jacksonian Democracy and beyond. In the 1860 Census the slave population in the United States had grown to four million.[40], and in Reconstruction after the Civil War (late 1860s) the newly freed slaves became citizens with (in the case of men) a nominal right to vote, and full enfranchisement of citizens was not secured until after the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968) which campaigned for freedom of oppression from white Americans, gained passage by the United States Congress of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The establishment of universal male suffrage in France in 1848 was an important milestone in the history of democracy.

In 1789, Revolutionary France adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and, although short-lived, the National Convention was elected by all males in 1792.[41] Universal male suffrage was definitely established in France in March 1848 in the wake of the French Revolution of 1848.[42] In 1848, several revolutions broke out in Europe as rulers were confronted with popular demands for liberal constitutions and more democratic government.[43]

The Australian colonies became democratic during the mid 19th century, with South Australia being the first government in the world to introduce women's suffrage in 1861. (It was argued that as women would vote the same as their husbands, this essentially gave married men two votes, which was not unreasonable.)

New Zealand granted suffrage to (native) Māori men in 1867, white men in 1879, and women in 1893, thus becoming the first major nation to achieve universal suffrage. However, women were not eligible to stand for parliament until 1919.

Liberal democracies were few and often short-lived before the late nineteenth century, and various nations and territories have also claimed to be the first with universal suffrage.

20th century

Since World War II, democracy has gained widespread acceptance. This map displays the official self identification made by world governments with regard to democracy, as of March 2008. It shows the de jure status of democracy in the world.[citation needed]      Governments self identified as democratic[citation needed]      Governments not self identified as democratic: Vatican City, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and Brunei.[citation needed]

20th century transitions to liberal democracy have come in successive "waves of democracy," variously resulting from wars, revolutions, decolonization, religious and economic circumstances. World War I and the dissolution of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires resulted in the creation of new nation-states from Europe, most of them at least nominally democratic.

In the 1920s democracy flourished, but the Great Depression brought disenchantment, and most of the countries of Europe, Latin America, and Asia turned to strong-man rule or dictatorships. Fascism and dictatorships flourished in Nazi Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal, as well as nondemocratic regimes in the Baltics, the Balkans, Brazil, Cuba, China, and Japan, among others.[44]

World War II brought a definitive reversal of this trend in western Europe. The successful democratization of the American, British, and French sectors of occupied Germany (disputed[45]), Austria, Italy, and the occupied Japan served as a model for the later theory of regime change.

However, most of Eastern Europe, including the Soviet sector of Germany was forced into the non-democratic Soviet bloc. The war was followed by decolonization, and again most of the new independent states had nominally democratic constitutions. India emerged as the world's largest democracy and continues to be so.[46]

In the decades following World War II, most western democratic nations had mixed economies and developed a welfare state, reflecting a general consensus among their electorates and political parties. In the 1950s and 1960s, economic growth was high in both the western and Communist countries; it later declined in the state-controlled economies. By 1960, the vast majority of country-states were nominally democracies, although the majority of the world's populations lived in nations that experienced sham elections, and other forms of subterfuge (particularly in Communist nations and the former colonies.)

This graph shows Freedom House's evaluation of the number of nations in the different categories given above for the period for which there are surveys, 1972-2005

A subsequent wave of democratization brought substantial gains toward true liberal democracy for many nations. Spain, Portugal (1974), and several of the military dictatorships in South America returned to civilian rule in the late 1970s and early 1980s (Argentina in 1983, Bolivia, Uruguay in 1984, Brazil in 1985, and Chile in the early 1990s). This was followed by nations in East and South Asia by the mid- to late 1980s.

Economic malaise in the 1980s, along with resentment of communist oppression, contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the associated end of the Cold War, and the democratization and liberalization of the former Eastern bloc countries. The most successful of the new democracies were those geographically and culturally closest to western Europe, and they are now members or candidate members of the European Union[citation needed] .

The liberal trend spread to some nations in Africa in the 1990s, most prominently in South Africa. Some recent examples of attempts of liberalization include the Indonesian Revolution of 1998, the Bulldozer Revolution in Yugoslavia, the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, and the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan.

Currently, there are 123 countries that are democratic (up from 40 in 1972)[47].[citation needed] As such, it has been speculated that this trend may continue in the future to the point where liberal democratic nation-states become the universal standard form of human society. This prediction forms the core of Francis Fukayama's "End of History" controversial theory. These theories are criticized by those who fear an evolution of liberal democracies to post-democracy, and other who points out the high number of illiberal democracies.

Forms

Democracy has taken a number of forms, both in theory and practice. The following kinds are not exclusive of one another: many specify details of aspects that are independent of one another and can co-exist in a single system.

Political ratings of countries according to Freedom House’s Freedom in the World survey, 2009:     Free     Partly Free     Not Free
Countries highlighted in blue are designated "electoral democracies" in Freedom House's 2010 survey Freedom in the World

Representative

Representative democracy involves the selection of government officials by the people being represented. If the head of state is also democratically elected then it is called a democratic republic. The most common mechanisms involve election of the candidate with a majority or a plurality of the votes.

Representatives may be elected or become diplomatic representatives by a particular district (or constituency), or represent the entire electorate proportionally proportional systems, with some using a combination of the two. Some representative democracies also incorporate elements of direct democracy, such as referendums. A characteristic of representative democracy is that while the representatives are elected by the people to act in their interest, they retain the freedom to exercise their own judgment as how best to do so.

Parliamentary

Parliamentary democracy is where government is appointed by parliamentary representatives as opposed to a 'presidential rule' wherein the President is both head of state and the head of government and is elected by the voters. Under a parliamentary democracy, government is exercised by delegation to an executive ministry and subject to ongoing review, checks and balances by the legislative parliament elected by the people.[48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55]

Liberal

A Liberal democracy is a representative democracy in which the ability of the elected representatives to exercise decision-making power is subject to the rule of law, and usually moderated by a constitution that emphasizes the protection of the rights and freedoms of individuals, and which places constraints on the leaders and on the extent to which the will of the majority can be exercised against the rights of minorities (see civil liberties).

Constitutional

See: Constitutional democracy

Direct

Direct democracy is a political system where the citizens participate in the decision-making personally, contrary to relying on intermediaries or representatives.The supporters of direct democracy argue that democracy is more than merely a procedural issue. A direct democracy gives the voting population the power to:

  1. Change constitutional laws,
  2. Put forth initiatives, referenda and suggestions for laws,
  3. Give binding orders to elective officials, such as revoking them before the end of their elected term, or initiating a lawsuit for breaking a campaign promise.

Of the three measures mentioned, most operate in developed democracies today. This is part of a gradual shift towards direct democracies. Examples of this include the extensive use of referenda in California with more than 20 million voters, and (i.e., voting).[56] in Switzerland, where five million voters decide on national referenda and initiatives two to four times a year; direct democratic instruments are also well established at the cantonal and communal level. Vermont towns have been known for their yearly town meetings, held every March to decide on local issues. No direct democracy is in existence outside the framework of a different overarching form of government. Most direct democracies to date have been weak forms, relatively small communities, usually city-states. The world is yet to see a large, fundamental, working example of direct democracy as of yet, with most examples being small and weak forms.

See: List of direct democracy parties

Participatory

A Parpolity or Participatory Polity is a theoretical form of democracy that is ruled by a Nested Council structure. The guiding philosophy is that people should have decision making power in proportion to how much they are affected by the decision. Local councils of 25-50 people are completely autonomous on issues that affect only them, and these councils send delegates to higher level councils who are again autonomous regarding issues that affect only the population affected by that council.

A council court of randomly chosen citizens serves as a check on the tyranny of the majority, and rules on which body gets to vote on which issue. Delegates can vote differently than their sending council might wish, but are mandated to communicate the wishes of their sending council. Delegates are recallable at any time. Referenda are possible at any time via votes of the majority of lower level councils, however, not everything is a referendum as this is most likely a waste of time. A parpolity is meant to work in tandem with a participatory economy See: Parpolity

Socialist

"Democracy cannot consist solely of elections that are nearly always fictitious and managed by rich landowners and professional politicians."
Che Guevara, Marxist revolutionary[57]

Socialist thought has several different views on democracy. Social democracy, democratic socialism, and the dictatorship of the proletariat (usually exercised through Soviet democracy) are some examples. Many democratic socialists and social democrats believe in a form of participatory democracy and workplace democracy combined with a representative democracy.

Within Marxist orthodoxy there is a hostility to what is commonly called "liberal democracy", which they simply refer to as parliamentary democracy because of its often centralized nature. Because of their desire to eliminate the political elitism they see in capitalism, Marxists, Leninists and Trotskyists believe in direct democracy implemented though a system of communes (which are sometimes called soviets). This system ultimately manifests itself as council democracy and begins with workplace democracy. (See Democracy in Marxism)

Anarchist

Anarchists are split in this domain, depending on whether they believe that a majority-rule is tyrannic or not. The only form of democracy considered acceptable to many anarchists is direct democracy. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon argued that the only acceptable form of direct democracy is one in which it is recognized that majority decisions are not binding on the minority, even when unanimous.[58] However, anarcho-communist Murray Bookchin criticized individualist anarchists for opposing democracy,[59] and says "majority rule" is consistent with anarchism.[60]

Some anarcho-communists oppose the majoritarian nature of direct democracy, feeling that it can impede individual liberty and opt in favour of a non-majoritarian form of consensus democracy, similar to Proudhon's position on direct democracy.[61] Henry David Thoreau, who did not self-identify as an anarchist but argued for "a better government"[62] and is cited as an inspiration by some anarchists, argued that people should not be in the position of ruling others or being ruled when there is no consent.

Iroquois

Iroquois society had a form of participatory democracy and representative democracy.[63] Iroquois government and law was discussed by Benjamin Franklin[63] and Thomas Jefferson.[64] Though some others disagree,[65] some scholars regard it to have influenced the formation of American representative democracy.[64]

Sortition

Sometimes called "democracy without elections", sortition is the process of choosing decision makers via a random process. The intention is that those chosen will be representative of the opinions and interests of the people at large, and be more fair and impartial than an elected official. The technique was in widespread use in Athenian Democracy and is still used in modern jury selection.

Consensus

Consensus democracy requires varying degrees of consensus rather than just a mere democratic majority. It typically attempts to protect minority rights from domination by majority rule.

Supranational

Qualified majority voting (QMV) is designed by the Treaty of Rome to be the principal method of reaching decisions in the European Council of Ministers. This system allocates votes to member states in part according to their population, but heavily weighted in favour of the smaller states. This might be seen as a form of representative democracy, but representatives to the Council might be appointed rather than directly elected.

Some might consider the "individuals" being democratically represented to be states rather than people, as with many other international organizations. European Parliament members are democratically directly elected on the basis of universal suffrage, may be seen as an example of a supranational democratic institution.

Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan democracy, also known as Global democracy or World Federalism is a political system in which democracy is implemented on a global scale, either directly or through representatives. The supporters of cosmopolitan democracy argue that it is fundamentally different from any form of national or regional democracy, because in a Cosmopolitan Democracy, decisions are made by people influenced by them, while in Regional and National Democracies, decisions often influence people outside the constituency, which by-definition can not vote.[66]

In a globalised world, argue the supporters of Cosmopolitan Democracy, any attempt to solve global problems would either be undemocratic or have to implement cosmopolitan democracy. The challenge of cosmopolitan democracy is to apply some of the values and norms of democracy, including the rule of law, the non-violent resolutions of conflicts, and the equality among citizens, also beyond the state. This requires to reform international organizations, first of all the United Nations, and to create new institutions, such as a World Parliament, which could increase the degree of public control and accountability on international politics.

Cosmopolitan Democracy was promoted, among others, by physicist Albert Einstein [67], writer Kurt Vonnegut, columnist George Monbiot, and professors David Held and Daniele Archibugi[68].

Non-governmental

Aside from the public sphere, similar democratic principles and mechanisms of voting and representation have been used to govern other kinds of communities and organizations.

Theory

Voting is an important part of the formal democratic process.

Aristotle

Aristotle contrasted rule by the many (democracy/polity), with rule by the few (oligarchy/aristocracy), and with rule by a single person (tyranny or today autocracy/monarchy). He also thought that there was a good and a bad variant of each system (he considered democracy to be the degenerate counterpart to polity).[69][70]

For Aristotle the underlying principle of democracy is freedom, since only in a democracy the citizens can have a share in freedom. In essence, he argues that this is what every democracy should make its aim. There are two main aspects of freedom: being ruled and ruling in turn, since everyone is equal according to number, not merit, and to be able to live as one pleases.

Now a fundamental principle of the democratic form of constitution is liberty—that is what is usually asserted, implying that only under this constitution do men participate in liberty, for they assert this as the aim of every democracy. But one factor of liberty is to govern and be governed in turn; for the popular principle of justice is to have equality according to number, not worth, and if this is the principle of justice prevailing, the multitude must of necessity be sovereign and the decision of the majority must be final and must constitute justice, for they say that each of the citizens ought to have an equal share; so that it results that in democracies the poor are more powerful than the rich, because there are more of them and whatever is decided by the majority is sovereign. This then is one mark of liberty which all democrats set down as a principle of the constitution. And one is for a man to live as he likes; for they say that this is the function of liberty, inasmuch as to live not as one likes is the life of a man that is a slave. This is the second principle of democracy, and from it has come the claim not to be governed, preferably not by anybody, or failing that, to govern and be governed in turns; and this is the way in which the second principle contributes to equalitarian liberty.[4]

Conceptions

Among political theorists, there are many contending conceptions of democracy.

  • Aggregative democracy uses democratic processes to solicit citizens’ preferences and then aggregate them together to determine what social policies society should adopt. Therefore, proponents of this view hold that democratic participation should primarily focus on voting, where the policy with the most votes gets implemented. There are different variants of this:
    • Under minimalism, democracy is a system of government in which citizens give teams of political leaders the right to rule in periodic elections. According to this minimalist conception, citizens cannot and should not “rule” because, for example, on most issues, most of the time, they have no clear views or their views are not well-founded. Joseph Schumpeter articulated this view most famously in his book Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy.[71] Contemporary proponents of minimalism include William H. Riker, Adam Przeworski, Richard Posner.
    • Direct democracy, on the other hand, holds that citizens should participate directly, not through their representatives, in making laws and policies. Proponents of direct democracy offer varied reasons to support this view. Political activity can be valuable in itself, it socializes and educates citizens, and popular participation can check powerful elites. Most importantly, citizens do not really rule themselves unless they directly decide laws and policies.
    • Governments will tend to produce laws and policies that are close to the views of the median voter – with half to his left and the other half to his right. This is not actually a desirable outcome as it represents the action of self-interested and somewhat unaccountable political elites competing for votes. Downs suggests that ideological political parties are necessary to act as a mediating broker between individual and governments. Anthony Downs laid out this view in his 1957 book An Economic Theory of Democracy.[72]
    • Robert A. Dahl argues that the fundamental democratic principle is that, when it comes to binding collective decisions, each person in a political community is entitled to have his/her interests be given equal consideration (not necessarily that all people are equally satisfied by the collective decision). He uses the term polyarchy to refer to societies in which there exists a certain set of institutions and procedures which are perceived as leading to such democracy. First and foremost among these institutions is the regular occurrence of free and open elections which are used to select representatives who then manage all or most of the public policy of the society. However, these polyarchic procedures may not create a full democracy if, for example, poverty prevents political participation.[73] Some see a problem with the wealthy having more influence and therefore argue for reforms like campaign finance reform. Some may see it as a problem that the majority of the voters decide policy, as opposed to majority rule of the entire population. This can be used as an argument for making political participation mandatory, like compulsory voting or for making it more patient (non-compulsory) by simply refusing power to the government until the full majority feels inclined to speak their minds.
  • Deliberative democracy is based on the notion that democracy is government by discussion. Deliberative democrats contend that laws and policies should be based upon reasons that all citizens can accept. The political arena should be one in which leaders and citizens make arguments, listen, and change their minds.
  • Radical democracy is based on the idea that there are hierarchical and oppressive power relations that exist in society. Democracy's role is to make visible and challenge those relations by allowing for difference, dissent and antagonisms in decision making processes.

Republic

In contemporary usage, the term democracy refers to a government chosen by the people, whether it is direct or representative.[74] The term republic has many different meanings, but today often refers to a representative democracy with an elected head of state, such as a president, serving for a limited term, in contrast to states with a hereditary monarch as a head of state, even if these states also are representative democracies with an elected or appointed head of government such as a prime minister.[75]

The Founding Fathers of the United States rarely praised and often criticized democracy, which in their time tended to specifically mean direct democracy; James Madison argued, especially in The Federalist No. 10, that what distinguished a democracy from a republic was that the former became weaker as it got larger and suffered more violently from the effects of faction, whereas a republic could get stronger as it got larger and combats faction by its very structure.

What was critical to American values, John Adams insisted,[76] was that the government be "bound by fixed laws, which the people have a voice in making, and a right to defend." As Benjamin Franklin was exiting after writing the U.S. constitution, a woman asked him "Well, Doctor, what have we got--a republic or a monarchy?". He replied "A republic--if you can keep it."[77]

Constitutional monarchs and upper chambers

Initially after the American and French revolutions the question was open whether a democracy, in order to restrain unchecked majority rule, should have an elitist upper chamber, the members perhaps appointed meritorious experts or having lifetime tenures, or should have a constitutional monarch with limited but real powers. Some countries (as Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Scandinavian countries, Thailand, Japan and Bhutan) turned powerful monarchs into constitutional monarchs with limited or, often gradually, merely symbolic roles.

Often the monarchy was abolished along with the aristocratic system (as in France, China, Russia, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Greece and Egypt). Many nations had elite upper houses of legislatures which often had lifetime tenure, but eventually these lost power (as in Britain) or else became elective and remained powerful (as in the United States).

Development of democracy

Several philosophers and researchers outlined historical and social factors supporting the evolution of democracy. Cultural factors like Protestantism influenced the development of democracy, rule of law, human rights and political liberty (the faithful elected priests, religious freedom and tolerance has been practiced).

Others mentioned the influence of wealth (e.g. S. M. Lipset, 1959). In a related theory, Ronald Inglehart suggests that the increase in living standards has convinced people that they can take their basic survival for granted, and led to increased emphasis on self-expression values, which is highly correlated to democracy.[78]

Recently established theories stress the relevance of education and human capital and within them of cognitive ability. They increase tolerance, rationality, political literacy and participation. Two effects of education and cognitive ability are distinguished: a cognitive effect (competence to make rational choices, better information processing) and an ethical effect (support of democratic values, freedom, human rights etc.), which itself depends on intelligence (cognitive development being a prerequisite for moral development; Glaeser et al., 2007; Deary et al., 2008; Rindermann, 2008). [79]

Facts

In practice it may not pay the incumbents to conduct fair elections in countries that have no history of democracy. A study showed that incumbents who rig elections stay in office 2.5 times as long as those who permit fair elections.[80] Above $2,700 per capita, democracies have been found to be less prone to violence, but below that threshold, more violence.[80] The same study shows that election misconduct tends to fall in countries with low per capita incomes, small populations, rich in natural resources, and a lack of institutional checks and balances. Sub-Saharan countries, as well as Afghanistan, all tend to fall into that category.[80]

Governments that have frequent elections averaged over the political cycle have significantly better economic policies than those who don't. This does not apply to governments with fraudulent elections, however.[80]

Opposition to democracy

This is one attempted measurement of democracy called the Polity IV data series. This map shows the data presented in the polity IV data series report as of 2003. The lightest countries get a perfect score of 10, while the darkest countries (Saudi Arabia and Qatar), considered the least democratic, score -10.

Democracy in modern times has almost always faced opposition from the existing government. The implementation of a democratic government within a non-democratic state is typically brought about by democratic revolution. Monarchy had traditionally been opposed to democracy, and to this day remains opposed to its abolition, although often political compromise has been reached in the form of shared government.

Currently, opposition to democracy exists most notably in communist states, absolute monarchies, and Islamic governments, which appear to have various reasons for opposing the implementation of democracy or democratic reforms.

Criticism of democracy

Economists since Milton Friedman have strongly criticized the efficiency of democracy. They base this on their premise of the irrational voter. Their argument is that voters are highly uninformed about many political issues, especially relating to economics, and have a strong bias about the few issues on which they are fairly knowledgeable.

Mob rule

Plato's The Republic presents a critical view of democracy through the narration of Socrates: "Democracy, which is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequaled alike."[81] In his work, Plato lists 5 forms of government from best to worst. Assuming that the Republic was intended to be a serious critique of the political thought in Athens, Plato argues that only Kallipolis, an aristocracy lead by the unwilling philosopher-kings (the wisest men) is a just form of government.

Moral decay

Traditional Asian cultures, in particular that of Confucian and Islamic thought, believe that democracy results in the people's distrust and disrespect of governments or religious sanctity. The distrust and disrespect pervades to all parts of society whenever and wherever there is seniority and juniority, for example between a parent and a child, a teacher and a student.

Political instability

More recently, democracy is criticised for not offering enough political stability. As governments are frequently elected on and off there tends to be frequent changes in the policies of democratic countries both domestically and internationally. Even if a political party maintains power, vociferous, headline grabbing protests and harsh criticism from the mass media are often enough to force sudden, unexpected political change. Frequent policy changes with regard to business and immigration are likely to deter investment and so hinder economic growth. For this reason, many people have put forward the idea that democracy is undesirable for a developing country in which economic growth and the reduction of poverty are top priority.[82]

Short-termism

Democracy is also criticised for frequent elections due to the instability of coalition governments. Coalitions are frequently formed after the elections in many countries (for example India) and the basis of alliance is predominantly to enable a viable majority, not an ideological concurrence.

This opportunist alliance not only has the handicap of having to cater to too many ideologically opposing factions, but it is usually short lived since any perceived or actual imbalance in the treatment of coalition partners, or changes to leadership in the coalition partners themselves, can very easily result in the coalition partner withdrawing its support from the government.

Slow governmental response

Democratic institutions work on consensus to decide an issue, which usually takes longer than a unilateral decision.

Vote Buying

This is a simple form of appealing to the short term interests of the voters. This tactic has been known to be heavily used in north and north-east region of Thailand.[citation needed]

Another form is commonly called Pork barrel where local areas or political sectors are given special benefits but whose costs are spread among all taxpayers.

Volatility/unsustainability

The new establishment of democratic institutions in countries where the associated practices have as yet been uncommon or deemed culturally unacceptable, can result in institutions, that are not sustainable in the long term. One circumstance supporting this outcome may be when it is part of the common perception among the populace that the institutions were established as a direct result of foreign pressure.

All political parties in Canada are now cautious about criticising of the high level of immigration, because, as noted by the Globe and Mail, "in the early 1990s, the old Reform Party was branded 'racist' for suggesting that immigration levels be lowered from 250,000 to 150,000."[83]

Popular rule as a facade

The 20th Century Italian thinkers Pareto and Mosca (independently) argued that democracy was illusory, and served only to mask the reality of elite rule. Indeed, they argued that elite oligarchy is the unbendable law of human nature, due largely to the apathy and division of the masses (as opposed to the drive, initiative and unity of the elites), and that democratic institutions would do no more than shift the exercise of power from oppression to manipulation[84].

Even though India is a democracy, the social stratification inherent in the Hindu religion persists to this day.[85] In a country that prides itself as being the world’s largest democracy, more than 200 million people from the Dalit communities suffer from caste discrimination.[86]

In a liberal democracy such as Canada, the following paradox persists. Even though the majority of respondents answer yes to the question: 'Are there too many immigrant arrivals each year?' immigrant numbers continue to rise until a critical set of economic costs appear.[87][88]

See also

"Model Government Charters: A City, County, Regional, State, and Federal Handbook," published by McFarland and Co., Inc., Jefferson, NC, USA; and London, UK, edited by Roger L. Kemp, Ph.D.

The United Nations has declared Sept. 15 as the International Day of Democracy.[89]

References

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  2. ^ a b Democracy is people who rule the government directly.BBC History of democracy
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  14. ^ Procedural fairness means that the rules of the elections are clear and set in advance
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  27. ^ Dio. 2.39
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  31. ^ ANCIENT ROME FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES DOWN TO 476 A.D
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  34. ^ Activity Four
  35. ^ Rousseau, David (3 September 1995). "Peaceful Democrats or Pragmatic Realists?: Revisiting the Iroquois League". Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. http://www.ssc.upenn.edu/~rousseau/IRO.PDF. 
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  39. ^ a b "Background on conflict in Liberia Paul Cuffee believed that African Americans could more easily "rise to be a people" in Africa than in the U.S. where slavery and legislated limits on black freedom were still in place. Although Cuffee died in 1817, his early efforts to help repatriate African Americans encouraged the American Colonization Society (ACS) to lead further settlements. The ACS was made up mostly of Quakers and slaveholders, who disagreed on the issue of slavery but found common ground in support of repatriation. Friends opposed slavery but believed blacks would face better chances for freedom in Africa than in the U.S. The slaveholders opposed freedom for blacks, but saw repatriation as a way of avoiding rebellions". http://www.fcnl.org/issues/item.php?item_id=731&issue_id=75. .
  40. ^ Introduction - Social Aspects of the Civil War
  41. ^ The French Revolution II
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  43. ^ "Movement toward greater democracy in Europe". Indiana University Northwest.
  44. ^ AGE OF DICTATORS: TOTALITARIANISM IN THE INTER-WAR PERIOD
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  46. ^ BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | Country profiles | Country profile: India
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  48. ^ Keen, Benjamin, A History of Latin America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980.
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  50. ^ Mahan, Alfred Thayer, "The United States Looking Outward," in The Interest of America in Sea Power. New York: Harper & Bros., 1897.
  51. ^ Brown, Charles H., The Correspondents' War. New York: Charles Scribners' Sons, 1967.
  52. ^ Taussig, Capt. J. K., "Experiences during the Boxer Rebellion," in Quarterdeck and Fo'c'sle. Chicago: Rand McNally & Company, 1963
  53. ^ Hegemony Or Survival, Noam Chomsky Black Rose Books ISBN 0-8050-7400-7
  54. ^ Deterring Democracy, Noam Chomsky Black Rose Books ISBN 0374523495
  55. ^ Class Warfare, Noam Chomsky Black Rose Books ISBN 1-5675-1092-2
  56. ^ Article on direct democracy by Imraan Buccus
  57. ^ "Economics Cannot be Separated from Politics" speech by Che Guevara to the ministerial meeting of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council (CIES), in Punta del Este, Uruguay on August 8, 1961
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  65. ^ Political Theory and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples By Duncan Ivison, Paul Patton, Will Sanders. Page 237
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  67. ^ letter by Einstein - "TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS"
  68. ^ Daniele Archibugi & David Held, eds., Cosmopolitan Democracy. An Agenda for a New World Order, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1995; David Held, Democracy and the Global Order, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1995, Daniele Archibugi, The Global Commonwealth of Citizens. Toward Cosmopolitan Democracy, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2008
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  73. ^ Dahl, Robert, (1989). Democracy and its Critics. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300049382
  74. ^ democracy - Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
  75. ^ republic - Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
  76. ^ Novanglus, no. 7, 6 Mar. 1775
  77. ^ The Founders' Constitution: Volume 1, Chapter 18, Introduction, "Epilogue: Securing the Republic"
  78. ^ Inglehart, Ronald. Welzel, Christian Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence, 2005. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  79. ^ Glaeser, E., Ponzetto, G. & Shleifer, A. (2007). Why does democracy need education? Journal of Economic Growth, 12(2), 77-99. Deary, I. J., Batty, G. D. & Gale, C. R. (2008). Bright children become enlightened adults. Psychological Science, 19(1), 1-6. Rindermann, H. (2008). Relevance of education and intelligence for the political development of nations: Democracy, rule of law and political liberty. Intelligence, 36(4), 306-322.
  80. ^ a b c d Paul Collier (2009-11-08). "5 myths about the beauty of the ballot box". Washington Post. Washington Post. pp. B2. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/06/AR2009110601906.html. 
  81. ^ Plato, the Republic of Plato (London: J.M Dent & Sons LTD.; New York: E.P. Dutton & Co. Inc.), 558-C.
  82. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7671283.stm
  83. ^ "Is the current model of immigration the best one for Canada?", Globe and Mail, 12 December 2005. Retrieved 16 August 2006.
  84. ^ Femia, Joseph V. "Against the Masses", Oxford 2001
  85. ^ "UN report slams India for caste discrimination". CBC News. March 2, 2007.
  86. ^ "Caste: Racism in all but name?". The Times of India. April 26, 2009.
  87. ^ "The Political Economy of Canadian Immigration Debate: A Crumbling Consensus?". Don J. DeVoretz. Co-Director Centre of Excellence on Immigration and Integration and Professor of Economics , Simon Fraser University. April 17, 1996
  88. ^ "Canadian Immigration Targets for 1994". Migration News. June 1994.
  89. ^ GENERAL ASSEMBLY DECLARES 15 SEPTEMBER INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DEMOCRACY; ALSO ELECTS 18 MEMBERS TO ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL

Further reading

  • Appleby, Joyce. (1992). Liberalism and Republicanism in the Historical Imagination. Harvard University Press.
  • Archibugi, Daniele, The Global Commonwealth of Citizens. Toward Cosmopolitan Democracy, Princeton University Press ISBN 978-0691134901
  • Becker, Peter, Heideking, Juergen, & Henretta, James A. (2002). Republicanism and Liberalism in America and the German States, 1750-1850. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521800662
  • Benhabib, Seyla. (1996). Democracy and Difference: Contesting the Boundaries of the Political. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691044781
  • Blattberg, Charles. (2000). From Pluralist to Patriotic Politics: Putting Practice First, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0198296881.
  • Birch, Anthony H. (1993). The Concepts and Theories of Modern Democracy. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415414630
  • Castiglione, Dario. (2005). "Republicanism and its Legacy." European Journal of Political Theory. pp 453–65.
  • Copp, David, Jean Hampton, & John E. Roemer. (1993). The Idea of Democracy. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521432542
  • Caputo, Nicholas. (2005). America's Bible of Democracy: Returning to the Constitution. SterlingHouse Publisher, Inc. ISBN 978-1585010929
  • Dahl, Robert A. (1991). Democracy and its Critics. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300049381
  • Dahl, Robert A. (2000). On Democracy. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300084559
  • Dahl, Robert A. Ian Shapiro & Jose Antonio Cheibub. (2003). The Democracy Sourcebook. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0262541473
  • Dahl, Robert A. (1963). A Preface to Democratic Theory. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226134260
  • Davenport, Christian. (2007). State Repression and the Domestic Democratic Peace. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521864909
  • Diamond, Larry & Marc Plattner. (1996). The Global Resurgence of Democracy. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0801853043
  • Diamond, Larry & Richard Gunther. (2001). Political Parties and Democracy. JHU Press. ISBN 978-0801868634
  • Diamond, Larry & Leonardo Morlino. (2005). Assessing the Quality of Democracy. JHU Press. ISBN 978-0801882876
  • Diamond, Larry, Marc F. Plattner & Philip J. Costopoulos. (2005). World Religions and Democracy. JHU Press. ISBN 978-0801880803
  • Diamond, Larry, Marc F. Plattner & Daniel Brumberg. (2003). Islam and Democracy in the Middle East. JHU Press. ISBN 978-0801878473
  • Elster, Jon. (1998). Deliberative Democracy. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521596961
  • Fotopoulos, Takis. (2006). "Liberal and Socialist “Democracies” versus Inclusive Democracy", The International Journal Of Inclusive Democracy. 2(2)
  • Fotopoulos, Takis. (1992). "Direct and Economic Democracy in Ancient Athens and its Significance Today", Democracy & Nature, 1(1)
  • Gabardi, Wayne. (2001). Contemporary Models of Democracy. Polity.
  • Griswold, Daniel. (2007). Trade, Democracy and Peace: The Virtuous Cycle
  • Halperin, M. H., Siegle, J. T. & Weinstein, M. M. (2005). The Democracy Advantage: How Democracies Promote Prosperity and Peace. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415950527
  • Hansen, Mogens Herman. (1991). The Athenian Democracy in the Age of Demosthenes. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0631180173
  • Held, David. (2006). Models of Democracy. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0804754729
  • Inglehart, Ronald. (1997). Modernization and Postmodernization. Cultural, Economic, and Political Change in 43 Societies. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691011806
  • Khan, L. Ali. (2003). A Theory of Universal Democracy: Beyond the End of History. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 978-9041120038
  • Köchler, Hans. (1987). The Crisis of Representative Democracy. Peter Lang. ISBN 978-3820488432
  • Lijphart, Arend. (1999). Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300078930
  • Lipset, Seymour Martin. (1959). "Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy." American Political Science Review, 53(1): 69-105.
  • Macpherson, C. B. (1977). The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0192891068
  • Morgan, Edmund. (1989). Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Sovereignty in England and America. Norton. ISBN 978-0393306231
  • Plattner, Marc F. & Aleksander Smolar. (2000). Globalization, Power, and Democracy. JHU Press. ISBN 978-0801865688
  • Plattner, Marc F. & João Carlos Espada. (2000). The Democratic Invention. John Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0801864193
  • Putnam, Robert. (2001). Making Democracy Work. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-5551091035
  • Raaflaub, Kurt A., Ober, Josiah & Wallace, Robert W. (2007). Origins of democracy in ancient Greece. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520245624
  • Riker, William H.. (1962). The Theory of Political Coalitions. Yale University Press.
  • Sen, Amartya K. (1999). "Democracy as a Universal Value." Journal of Democracy 10(3): 3-17.
  • Tannsjo, Torbjorn. (2008). Global Democracy: The Case for a World Government. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-0748634996. Argues that not only is world government necessary if we want to deal successfully with global problems it is also, pace Kant and Rawls, desirable in its own right.
  • Weingast, Barry. (1997). "The Political Foundations of the Rule of Law and Democracy." American Political Science Review, 91(2): 245-263.
  • Weatherford, Jack. (1990). Indian Givers: How the Indians Transformed the World. New York: Fawcett Columbine. ISBN 978-0449904961
  • Whitehead, Laurence. (2002). Emerging Market Democracies: East Asia and Latin America. JHU Press. ISBN 978-0801872198
  • Willard, Charles Arthur. (1996). Liberalism and the Problem of Knowledge: A New Rhetoric for Modern Democracy. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226898452
  • Wood, E. M. (1995). Democracy Against Capitalism: Renewing historical materialism. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521476829
  • Wood, Gordon S. (1991). The Radicalism of the American Revolution. Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0679736882 examines democratic dimensions of republicanism

External links

Critique

Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Adjective

Democratic (not comparable)

Positive
Democratic

Comparative
not comparable

Superlative
none (absolute)

  1. (US politics) Of or pertaining to the Democratic Party.
    Our last Democratic president was President Bill Clinton.
  2. (rare) Of or pertaining to democracy: democratic.







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