What is democracy ?
Democracy comes from the Greek word, “demos,” meaning people. In democracies, it is the people who hold sovereign power over legislator and government. Democracy is a political form of government in which governing power is derived from the people, by consensus (consensus democracy), by direct referendum (direct democracy), or by means of elected representatives of the people (representative democracy) . A form of political organization of society based on a recognition of the people as the source of power, their right to participate in the resolution of state affairs, and the provision of a rather broad range of rights and liberties for citizens.
The term comes from the Greek: dēmokratía "rule of the people",which was coined from dêmos "people" and Kratos"power", in the middle of the 5th-4th century BC to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens following a popular uprising in 508 BC.
Even though there is no specific, universally accepted definition of 'democracy', equality and freedom have been identified as important characteristics of democracy since ancient times. These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to power. For example, in a representative democracy, every vote has equal weight, no restrictions can apply to anyone wanting to become a representative, and the freedom of its citizens is secured by legitimized rights and liberties which are generally protected by a constitution.
Although nuances apply to the world's various democracies, certain principles and practices distinguish democratic government from other forms of government.
• Democracy is government in which power and civic responsibility are exercised by all citizens, directly or through their freely elected representatives.
• Democracy is a set of principles and practices that protect human freedom; it is the institutionalization of freedom.
• Democracy rests upon the principles of majority rule, coupled with individual and minority rights. All democracies, while respecting the will of the majority, zealously protect the fundamental rights of individuals and minority groups.
• Democracies guard against all-powerful central governments and decentralize government to regional and local levels, understanding that local government must be as accessible and responsive to the people as possible.
• Democracies understand that one of their prime functions is to protect such basic human rights as freedom of speech and religion; the right to equal protection under law; and the opportunity to organize and participate fully in the political, economic, and cultural life of society.
• Democracies conduct regular free and fair elections open to all citizens. Elections in a democracy cannot be facades that dictators or a single party hide behind, but authentic competitions for the support of the people.
• Democracy subjects governments to the rule of law and ensures that all citizens receive equal protection under the law and that their rights are protected by the legal system.
• Democracies are diverse, reflecting each nation's unique political, social, and cultural life. Democracies rest upon fundamental principles, not uniform practices.
• Citizens in a democracy not only have rights, they have the responsibility to participate in the political system that, in turn, protects their rights and freedoms.
• Democratic societies are committed to the values of tolerance, cooperation, and compromise. Democracies recognize that reaching consensus requires compromise and that it may not always be attainable. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.”
Democracy has its origins in Ancient Greece. However other cultures have significantly contributed to the evolution of democracy such as Ancient Rome, Europe, and North and South America. 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. Democracy has been called the "last form of government" and has spread considerably across the globe. 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.
Democracy first flourished in the Greek city-statecity-state, in ancient Greece, Italy, and Medieval Europe, an independent political unit consisting of a city and surrounding countryside. The first city-states were in Sumer, but they reached their peak in Greece.
..... Click the link for more information. , reaching its fullest expression in ancient Athens Athens , Gr. Athínai, city (1991 pop. 2,907,179; 1991 urban agglomeration pop. 3,072,922), capital of Greece, E central Greece, on the plain of Attica, between the Kifisós and Ilissus rivers, near the Saronic Gulf. Mt.
..... Click the link for more information. . There the citizens, as members of the assembly, participated directly in the making of their laws. A democracy of this sort was possible only in a small state where the people were politically educated, and it was limited since the majority of inhabitants were slaves or noncitizens. Athenian democracy fell before imperial rule, as did other ancient democracies in the early Italian cities and the early church. In this period and in the Middle Ages, ideas such as representationrepresentation, in government, the term used to designate the means by which a whole population may participate in governing through the device of having a much smaller number of people act on their behalf...... Click the link for more information. Crucial to modern Western democracy were developed.
When the Greeks created the first democracy known to mankind, they envisioned it would be one with much citizen participation. Citizens would express their opinions, debate, and vote in a system now known as a Classical Democracy.
Athenian Democracy: an Overview
The democratic government of Athens rested on three main institutions, and a few others of lesser importance. The three pillars of democracy were: the Assembly of the Demos, the Council of 500, and the People’s Court. These were supplemented by the Council of the Areopagus, the Archons, and the Generals. Actual legislation involved both the Assembly and the Council, and ad hoc boards of “Lawmakers.” This summary will describe the Assembly, the Council, and the process of legislation in the greatest detail, along with a shorter description of the Council of the Areopagus. The People’s Court will be covered briefly and then left for fuller treatment in other resources. While Generals and Archons will appear here and there in the descriptions of other institutions, they were really servants of the Demos and do not require extensive discussion in this relatively brief introduction to Athenian Democracy.
The Greek meant rule of people when they talked of democracy. In the 5th century BC Athens pioneers an experiment in direct democracy, as opposed to the representative democracy of modern societies. It is copied by her Greek allies and colonies at the time, but it has rarely been attempted anywhere else since (Switzerland in the 13th century is one example).
Democracy of this kind has two preconditions. The community must be small enough for citizens to be capable of attending debates and voting on issues. And its economy must give these citizens enough leisure to engage in politics; in the ancient world this means that there must be slaves to do most of the work. Both circumstances prevail in Athens.
The citizen democrats of Athens are those males, over the age of eighteen, who are sons of an Athenian father (after 451 BC the mother must be Athenian as well). They number no more than 50,000 in the whole of Attica. In addition to these citizens the population includes about 25,000 metics (metoikoi, or foreigners trading in Athens, for this is a major commercial centre), together with free women and children and perhaps 100,000 slaves. This gives a total of about 300,000 people. So the voting citizens form at most 20% of the population.
Democracy is achieved in several stages, through reforms linked with Solon in 594, with the Ten tribes of Cleisthenes in 508, and with Pericles in 462.
Now the Western governments are called democracies. Democracy only works if voters are active and informed.Now modern democracy has found profound changeas and transformations in ideal and practice.It has wide variety of elements.Modern democracy is drafted to fit the modern political life of humanity.
Democracy - Key Elements
In order to deserve the label modern democracy, a country needs to fulfill some basic requirements - and they need not only be written down in it's constitution but must be kept up in everyday life by politicians and authorities:
- Guarantee of basic Human Rights to every individual person vis-à-vis the state and its authorities as well as vis-à-vis any social groups (especially religious institutions) and vis-à-vis other persons.
- Separation of Powers between the institutions of the state:
Government[Executive Power], Parliament [Legislative Power] und Courts of Law [Judicative Power]
- Freedom of opinion, speech, press and massmedia
- Religious liberty
- General and equal right to vote (one person, one vote)
- Good Governance (focus on public interest and absence of corruption)
The "majority rule" is often described as a characteristic feature of democracy, but without governmental or constitutional protections of individual liberties, it is possible for a minority of individuals to be oppressed by the "tyranny of the majority". An essential process in representative democracies is competitive elections that are fair both substantively and procedurally. 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.
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.
Freedom of speech is the foundation of democracy. Governments are held accountable by free speech, every decision must have a reason, every cent must be accountable, bad decisions are punished at election time. The free flow of information allows both people and governments to make the best informed decisions.
At a minimum, an ideal democracy would have the following features:
Effective participation. Before a policy is adopted or rejected, members of the dēmos have the opportunity to make their views about the policy known to other members.
Equality in voting. Members of the dēmos have the opportunity to vote for or against the policy, and all votes are counted as equal.
Informed electorate. Members of the dēmos have the opportunity, within a reasonable amount of time, to learn about the policy and about possible alternative policies and their likely consequences.
Major forms of Democracy
There are several varieties of democracy, some of which provide better representation and more freedoms for their citizens than others. 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, thus become undemocratic.
- Agonistic Pluralism, accepts conflict as inevitable and should be channeled in a productive way.
- Anticipatory democracy, which relies on some degree of disciplined and usually market-informed anticipation of the future, to guide major decisions.
- Athenian democracy (sometimes called classical democracy), as originally developed in the Classical Greek city-state of Athens.
- Bioregional democracy, matching geopolitical divisions to natural ecological regions.
- Constitutional democracy, democracy governed by a constitution.
- Defensive democracy, a situation in which a democratic society has to limit some rights and freedoms in order to protect the institutions of the democracy.
- Deliberative democracy, which focuses on hearing out every policy alternative, from every direction, and providing time to research them all.
- Demarchy, a form of democracy which has people randomly selected from the citizenry to either act as representatives, or to make decisions in specific areas of governance (defense, environment, etc.)
- E-democracy, which comprises the use of electronic communications technologies, such as the Internet, in enhancing democratic processes within a democratic republic or representative democracy.
- Emergent democracy, a social system in which blogging undermines mainstream media.
- Democratic centralism, an organizational method where members of a political party discuss and debate matters of policy and direction and after the decision is made by majority vote, all members are expected to follow that decision in public.
- Democratic dictatorship Also known as democratur.
- Direct democracy, implementations of democracy in more pure forms; classically termed pure democracy.
- Dominant-party system, a democratic party system where only one political party can realistically become the government, by itself or in a coalition government.
- Economic democracy, a theory of democracy involving people having access to subsistence, or equity in living standards.
- Grassroots democracy, a form of democracy emphasizing trust in small decentralized units at the municipal government level, possibly using urban secession to establish the formal legal authority to make decisions made at this local level binding.
- Illiberal democracy, a type of representative democracy where there are no or only weak limits on the power of the elected representatives to rule as they please.
- Interactive Democracy, a proposed form of democracy utilising information technology to allow citizens to propose new policies, "second" proposals and vote on the resulting laws (that are refined by Parliament) in a referendum.
- Intra-Party Democracy, a democratic process within a one party state government. This debated among scholars if the Chinese Communist Party resemble this process during leadership transitions.
- Jacksonian democracy, a form of democracy popularized by President Andrew Jackson promoted the strength of the executive branch and the Presidency at the expense of Congressional power.
- Jeffersonian democracy, a form of government named after American statesman Thomas Jefferson.
- Liberal democracy, a form of representative democracy with protection for individual liberty and property by rule of law.
- Market democracy, another name for democratic capitalism, an economic ideology based on a tripartite arrangement of a market-based economy based predominantly on economic incentives through free markets, a democratic polity and a liberal moral-cultural system which encourages pluralism.
- Multiparty democracy, a two-party system requires voters to align themselves in large blocs, sometimes so large that they cannot agree on any overarching principles.
- New Democracy, a Maoist concept based on Mao Zedong's "Bloc of Four Classes" theory in post-revolutionary China.
- Non-partisan democracy, a system of representative government or organization such that universal and periodic elections (by secret ballot) take place without reference to political parties.
- Parliamentary democracy, a democratic system of government where the executive branch of a parliamentary government is typically a cabinet, and headed by a prime minister who is considered the head of government.
- Participatory democracy, which involves consent or consensus decision making and offers greater political representation, e.g., wider control of proxies others trust them with, to those who get directly involved and actually participate.
- Radical democracy, a type of democracy that focuses on the importance of nurturing and tolerating difference and dissent in decision-making processes.
- Religious democracy, the values of religion play a role in the public arena in a society populated by religious people.
- Republican democracy, a republic which has democracy through elected representatives
- Representative democracy describes indirect democracy where sovereignty is held by the people's representatives.
- Social democracy, a political philosophy that calls upon government to be for the people. In contrast to Socialists, modern Social Democrats do not believe in nationalizing industry
- Sociocracy, a democratic system of governance based on consent decision making, circle organization, and double-linked representation.
- Sortition, a democratic method of choosing political and administrative officials, advocated by Aristotle, and used in classical Athens and Venice, which is based on the drawing of lots as opposed to election by vote.
- Soviet democracy or Council democracy, a form of democracy where the workers of a locality elect recallable representatives into organs of power called soviets (councils.) The local soviets elect the members of regional soviets who go on to elect higher soviets.
- Totalitarian democracy, a system of government in which lawfully elected representatives maintain the integrity of a nation state whose citizens, while granted the right to vote, have little or no participation in the decision-making process of the government.
- Westminster democracy, a parliamentary system of government modeled after that of the United Kingdom system.
Participatory democracy is a process emphasizing the broad participation of constituents in the direction and operation of political systems. Etymological roots of democracy (Greek demos and kratos) imply that the people are in power and thus that all democracies are participatory. However, traditional representative democracy tends to limit citizen participation to voting, leaving actual governance to politicians.
Participatory democracy strives to create opportunities for all members of a political group to make meaningful contributions to decision-making, and seeks to broaden the range of people who have access to such opportunities. Because so much information must be gathered for the overall decision-making process to succeed, technology may provide important forces leading to the type of empowerment needed for participatory models, especially those technological tools that enable community narratives and correspond to the accretion of knowledge. Effectively increasing the scale of participation, and translating small but effective participation groups into small world networks, are areas currently being studied.
Some scholars argue for refocusing the term on community-based activity within the domain of civil society, based on the belief that a strong non-governmental public sphere is a precondition for the emergence of a strong liberal democracy. These scholars tend to stress the value of separation between the realm of civil society and the formal political realm.
Political variants of participatory democracy include:
Representative democracy is not generally considered participatory. Bioregional democracy is often but not necessarily participatory. Grassroots democracy is an alternative term that has been used to imply almost any combination of the above.
New concepts such as open source governance, collaborative governance, open source politics, and open politics seek to radically increase participation through electronic collaboration tools such as wikis and 'wikigovernment'.
Participatory politics (or parpolity) is a long-range political theory that also incorporates many of the above and strives to create a political system that will allow people to participate in politics, as much as possible in a face-to-face manner.
Panocracy or 'pantocracy' also has similarities with participatory democracy. However, it avoids the concept of demos or the people having a single view with the inevitable limitations that come from trying to agree what that view is. It also avoids the expectations that attach to anything called democracy.
Demarchy is a hypothetical system where government is heavily decentralized into smaller independent groups. Each group is responsible for one or several functions in society. Officials are volunteers elected to committees controlling these groups by sortition. The system seeks to avoid problems with centralized and electoral governance, while still providing a stable democratic system.
The representatives form an independent ruling body (for an election period) charged with the responsibility of acting in the people's interest, but not as their proxy representatives not necessarily always according to their wishes, but with enough authority to exercise swift and resolute initiative in the face of changing circumstances. It is often contrasted with direct democracy, where representatives are absent or are limited in power as proxy representatives.
A representative democracy that emphasizes individual liberty is a liberal democracy. One that does not is an illiberal democracy. There is no necessity that individual liberties be respected in a representative democracy.
Today, in liberal democracies, representatives are usually elected in multi-party elections that are free and fair. The power of representatives in a liberal democracy is usually curtailed by a constitution (as in a constitutional democracy or a constitutional monarchy) or other measures to balance representative power:
- An independent judiciary, which may have the power to declare legislative acts unconstitutional (e.g. constitutional court, supreme court)
- It may also provide for some deliberative democracy (e.g., Royal Commissions) or direct popular measures (e.g., initiative, referendum, recall elections). However, these are not always binding and usually require some legislative action—legal power usually remains firmly with representatives
- In some cases, a bicameral legislature may have an "upper house" that is not directly elected, such as the Canadian Senate, which was in turn modeled on the British House of Lords.
The term republic may have many different meanings. It normally means a state with an elected or otherwise non-monarchical head of state, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran or Republic of Korea. Sometimes in the US it is used similar to liberal democracy. For example, "the United States relies on representative democracy, but its system of government is much more complex than that. It is not a simple representative democracy, but a constitutional republic in which majority rule is tempered."
In many representative democracies (Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, etc.), representatives are most commonly chosen in elections by a plurality of those who are both eligible to cast votes and actually do so. A candidate has a plurality when he or she has won more votes than any other candidate in the race, but not necessarily most (more than 50%) of the votes cast. This is not the case in Australia, where the elected representatives of the house of representatives are elected by a system of preferential voting and require the support of 50% or more voters in a single round to be elected. While existing representative democracies hold such elections to choose representatives, in theory other methods, such as sortition (more closely aligned with direct democracy), could be used instead. Also, representatives sometimes hold the power to select other representatives, presidents, or other officers of government (indirect representation)(Citation needed)
Deliberative democracy (also called discursive democracy) is a form of democracy in which public deliberation is central to legitimate lawmaking. It adopts elements of both representative democracy and direct democracy and differs from traditional democratic theory in that deliberation, not voting, is the primary source of a law's legitimacy.
"Deliberative democracy" was originally coined by Joseph M. Bessette, in "Deliberative Democracy: The Majority Principle in Republican Government," in 1980, and he subsequently elaborated and defended the notion in "The Mild Voice of Reason" (1994). Others contributing to the notion of deliberative democracy include Jon Elster, Jürgen Habermas, David Held, Joshua Cohen, John Rawls, Amy Gutmann, John Dryzek, Rense Bos, James Fishkin, Dennis Thompson, Benny Hjern, Hal Koch, Seyla Benhabib, Ethan Leib, David Estlund and Robert B. Talisse.
Joshua Cohen, a student of John Rawls, most clearly outlined some conditions that he thinks constitute the root principles of the theory of deliberative democracy, in the article "Deliberation and Democratic Legitimacy" in the book The Good Polity. He outlines five main features of deliberative democracy, which include:
- An ongoing independent association with expected continuation.
- The citizens in the democracy structure their institutions such that deliberation is the deciding factor in the creation of the institutions and the institutions allow deliberation to continue.
- A commitment to the respect of a pluralism of values and aims within the polity.
- The citizens consider deliberative procedure as the source of legitimacy, and prefer the causal history of legitimation for each law to be transparent and easily traceable to the deliberative process.
- Each member recognizes and respects other members' deliberative capacity.
· This can be construed as the idea that in the legislative process, we "owe" one another reasons for our proposals.
Cohen presents deliberative democracy as more than a theory of legitimacy, and forms a body of substantive rights around it based on achieving "ideal deliberation":
- It is free in two ways:
- The participants consider themselves bound solely by the results and preconditions of the deliberation. They are free from any authority of prior norms or requirements.
- The participants suppose that they can act on the decision made; the deliberative process is a sufficient reason to comply with the decision reached.
- Parties to deliberation are required to state reasons for their proposals, and proposals are accepted or rejected based on the reasons given, as the content of the very deliberation taking place.
- Participants are equal in two ways:
- Formal: anyone can put forth proposals, criticize, and support measures. There is no substantive hierarchy.
- Substantive: The participants are not limited or bound by certain distributions of power, resources, or pre-existing norms. "The participants…do not regard themselves as bound by the existing system of rights, except insofar as that system establishes the framework of free deliberation among equals."
- Deliberation aims at a rationally motivated consensus: it aims to find reasons acceptable to all who are committed to such a system of decision-making. When consensus or something near enough is not possible, majoritarian decision making is used.
Association with political movements
Deliberative democracy recognizes a conflict of interest between the citizen participating, those affected or victimized by the process being undertaken, and the group-entity that organizes the decision. Thus it usually involves an extensive outreach effort to include marginalized, isolated, ignored groups in decisions, and to extensively document dissent, grounds for dissent, and future predictions of consequences of actions. It focuses as much on the process as the results. In this form it is a complete theory of civics.
On the other hand, many practitioners of deliberative democracy attempt to be as neutral and open-ended as possible, inviting (or even randomly selecting) people who represent a wide range of views and providing them with balanced materials to guide their discussions. Examples include National Issues Forums, Choices for the 21st Century, study circles, deliberative opinion polls, and the 21st-century town meetings convened by AmericaSpeaks, among others. In these cases, deliberative democracy is not connected to left-wing politics but is intended to create a conversation among people of different philosophies and beliefs.
In Canada, there have been two prominent applications of deliberative democratic models. In 2004, the British Columbia Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform convened a policy jury to consider alternatives to the first-past-the-post electoral systems. In 2007, the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform convened to consider alternative electoral systems in that province.
Similarly, three of Ontario’s Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN) have referred their budget priorities to a policy jury for advice and refinement.
Strengths and weaknesses
A claimed strength of deliberative democratic models is that they are more easily able to incorporate scientific opinion and base policy on outputs of ongoing research, because:
- Time is given for all participants to understand and discuss the science
- Scientific peer review, adversarial presentation of competing arguments, refereed journals, even betting markets, are also deliberative processes.
- The technology used to record dissent and document opinions opposed to the majority is also useful to notarize bets, predictions and claims.
According to the proponents, another strength of deliberative democratic models is that they tend, more than any other model, to generate ideal conditions of impartiality, rationality and knowledge of the relevant facts. The more these conditions are fulfilled, the greater the likelihood that the decisions reached are morally correct. Deliberative democracy has thus an epistemic value: it allows participants to deduce what is morally correct. This view has been prominently held by Carlos Nino.
A failure of most theories of deliberative democracy is that they do not address the problems of voting. James Fishkin's 1991 work, "Democracy and Deliberation" introduced a way to apply the theory of deliberative democracy to real-world decision making, by way of what he calls the deliberative opinion poll. In the deliberative opinion poll, a statistically representative sample of the nation or a community is gathered to discuss an issue in conditions that further deliberation. The group is then polled, and the results of the poll and the actual deliberation can be used both as a recommending force and in certain circumstances, to replace a vote. Dozens of deliberative opinion polls have been conducted across the United States since his book was published.
The political philosopher Charles Blattberg has criticized deliberative democracy on four grounds: (i) the rules for deliberation that deliberative theorists affirm interfere with, rather than facilitate, good practical reasoning; (ii) deliberative democracy is ideologically biased in favor of liberalism as well as republican over parliamentary democratic systems; (iii) deliberative democrats assert a too-sharp division between just and rational deliberation on the one hand and self-interested and coercive bargaining or negotiation on the other; and (iv) deliberative democrats encourage an adversarial relationship between state and society, one that undermines solidarity between citizens.
Social choice theory presents deliberative democracy with a distinct challenge. Critics of deliberative democracy have pointed to Arrow's impossibility theorem as limiting the use of deliberative democracy. Deliberative theorists (in particular Christian List/ cf. http://personal.lse.ac.uk/list/ ) have responded with a recent body of research in support of the claim that deliberation actually makes the conditions necessary for Arrow's Theorem to apply less likely.
Prepared by Biju P R,Assistant Professor in Political Science,Govt Brennen College…….