Government » Democracy Definition

Hello Candidates, our today’s topic on government is democracy. First what is democracy or what is democracy definition, well as you already know that democracy definition is “The Government of the people, by the people, and for the people” well democracy definition is more than that, so let get started, shall we?

democracy definition

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Democracy Definition

Democracy is defined as a system of government in which all qualified adult citizens share the supreme power directly or through their elected representatives.
Democracy is a system of government based on popular consent. It is a government which is derived from public opinion and is accountable to it.
Abraham Lincoln, whose definition of democracy has become axiomatic defined it as “ The Government of the people, by the people, and for the people “. The term democracy has in another occasion been described as “government by consent of the governed” hence, democracy means government with the approval of the people being governed.
The fusion of two Greek words Demos (people) and Kratia (rule or government) gave birth to the word democracy.top↑

Democratic system of government hence started in ancient Greek city states. Such government is representative of all people and interests within the state and is described as open government because it allows freedom of speech and ideas.
Democracy allows the people to choose and reject their leaders and their programmers when such are no longer serving the interest of the people, hence democracy is regarded as the best form of government that can be adopted in a country.top↑

The Development Of Democracy

The beginning of the idea of democracy is associated with the city-states of ancient Greece.

The word itself is derived from the Greek “Demokratia” from demos, “the people”, and kratia, “rule”, the Greek define democracy as a system in which the whole citizen body formed the legislature, and in which the representative system was unknown. This was possible because of limited size of the ancient state which was generally confined to a city and its rural surroundings. Furthermore, women were disenfranchised and there were numerous classes of slaves who enjoyed no rights at all.
Ancient democracy recognised the equality of citizens, but failed to develop a general conception of the equality of mankind.top↑

Greek democracy was a belief historical episode which had little direct influence on the theory or practice of modern democratic states from the fall of the greek city-states to rise of modern constitutionalism, there is a gap of about 2000 years in the theory and practice of democracy. The successor states were tribal or feudal kingdoms which became largely transformed into absolute monarchies.
This was the situation down to the time of the american and french revolutions.

Factors That Led To The Development Of Modern Democracy

1] Historical writings : The writings, proposition, eloquent and uncom-promising defence of writers such as John Locke, Socrates, Rousseau, J.J., Mill, Aristotle, Pluto and J.S, to mention a few, were decisive contributions to the theory of modern democracy, For example, Locke stated that property “Life, liberty and estate” is a national right of man. Moreover, governments are created by a social contract designed for the preservation of that right, and when rulers violate the terms of the contract, society has a right to dispose and replace them.top↑

The best way to prevent abuse is to separate the powers of government in such a way that legislative and executive powers can never fall into the same hands.

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Democracy Theory

Locke’s theory was popularized by Jean Montesqiueu who added a third power, the judicial, to those that ought to be kept separate.
According to J.J., Rousseau, in his work, The social contract, no law is legitimate unless it is an expression of the general will, a consensus of the whole community. No man can enjoy full moral responsibility unless he assembles with his fellow citizens at periodic intervals, and personally vote on every act of legislation and government to carry out the law.
Hence, the government thus created must be wholly subordinate to the general will as expressed in the popular assembly.

2] Religion : the underlying ethical basis of theology is the conception that all men are created equal, and that government exists for the purpose of protecting them in the exercise of certain basic rights.
The universe was the creation of an omnipotent God whose perfect and unchanging will was binding on all his creatures.
These laws were not the product but the source of legitimate authority.top↑

3] The American revolution : this provided a framework for the first major experiment in constitutional democracy.
The colonies , consulting the United States Of America, came in the course of time to demand vast legislative and fiscal powers. These claims were rejected by royal governors who are agents of the British government.
A constitutional crisis erupted, and this led to a declaration of independence. When the controlling hand of Britain was removed, the democratic forces in America life were free to seek expression.
What most Americans wanted was not only constitutional, but democratic government, and this was the ultimate significance of the American revolution.top↑

4] Disintegration of state authority : The modern practice of democracy is a consequence of the disintegration of state authority which followed the fall of Rome, a strong centralised state, fully capable of imposing its will on the subject population.
In the tribal and feudal monarchies which replaced it, power was much more widely dispersed. Kings could only act with the consent of their subjects after summoning a great council of representatives.
These gatherings were the origin of modern parliaments.top↑

5] The decline of colonialism and nationalism : After world wars i and ii, the number of democracies, whether constitutional or totalitarian, steadily increased.
These were few parts of the globe where democracy of one sort or another was not the generally recognized principle of political legitimacy. This development was the outgrowth of two separate but closely associated phenomena, the decline of colonialism and the rise of nationalism.

6] The French revolution : The second great landmark in the history of modern democracy was the French revolution.
Ever since the 16th century, France had been an absolute monarchy. The French were perfectly contented with this system as long as they believed that monarchs could be persuaded to use their powers in the interests of reform.
When that hope was disappointed, the reformers transferred their attention to the people and began supporting the principle of popular sovereignty. The French revolution was successful in undermining the tradition of the ancient regime and in fostering the ideal of a The Society based on liberty, fraternity and equality.top↑

Types Of Democracy

a] Modern or Representative or Indirect democracy : Citizens exercise the right to make political decisions, not in person, but through representatives chosen by and responsible to them.

b] Direct or Classical democracy : this is a form of democracy where the right to make political decisions is exercised directly by the whole body of citizens, acting under procedures of majority rule.

c] Social or economic democracy : This type of democracy tends to minimize social and economic differences, especially differences arising out of the unequal distribution of private property.

d] Liberal or Constitutional democracy : Powers of the majority are exercised within a framework of constitutional restraints designed to guarantee the minority in the enjoyment of certain individual or collective rights.

Two Main Types Of Democracy

a] Direct democracy : This type of democracy is where all the citizens attend the assembly and take part in decision making in order to govern the state or the society.
This type of democracy was practice in ancient small Greek city states.top↑

b] Indirect or representative democracy : in this type of democracy, the citizens through election elect those who will represent and govern the state on their behalf.
This type of democracy replaced the direct democracy in modern states as it is no more possible for everybody to gather in one place in order to take decisions to govern the state as a result of the large size and population of the modern states.top↑

Characteristics And Factors That Make A Nation Democratic

1] There should be free press for a nation that want democracy.

2] Existence of organized opposition to government.

3] There should be Regular and periodic elections.

4] Absence of class feelings in the country.

5] The application of the principles of separation of powers.

6] No intimidation of voters during elections.

7] There should be equal political rights to vote and be voted for.

8] A nation that wants democracy should be able to Guarantee fundamental human rights to the citizens.

9] Assertion of the principles of the rule of law in the constitution and its observance.top↑

10] There should be an effective process of changing government so that a group of people should not stick to the power indefinitely, for example, presidents in Africa.

11] There must be an independent judiciary for a nation that wants democracy.

12] There should be presence of party system in a nation that wants democracy.

13] There should be free and fair elections in such nation that demand democracy.

14] There should be majority rule in the country.

15] There should be Equality before law, no matter how high the power that the person wields is, in government or in the society. Be it the president or the mere citizens, they both have equal rights and both must abide with equal rules.top↑

16] Government actions must be open to the public criticism. Citizens must be aware of government actions and activities before a nation can demand democracy.

17] There should be respect for the rights of the minority groups.

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Advantages Of Democracy

1] Legitimacy : government elected by the people is considered legitimate because it has the support of the people.

2] The rule of law : Democracy promotes equality of people, protection of their properties their fundamental human rights.

3] It promotes political participation : Democracy encourages citizens to be involved in their government and politics, that is, democracy promotes a sense of responsibility and belongings.top↑

4] Decision making process : persuasion and argument are used in making decisions rather than violence and force.

5] Choice of political leadership : The electorate are given the opportunity to elect leaders of their choice.

6] Abuse of power : it prevents misuse of power since it checks concentration of powers of government in the hands of one person.

7] Encouragement of constitutionalism : Democracy encourages the government to rule according to the provisions of the constitution.

8] Political stability : Democracy involves periodic elections through which one government replaces another peacefully.

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Disadvantages And Problems Of Democracy

1] Expensiveness : it is very expensive to operate because decision-making process in a democracy involves many people.

2] Representation : The representatives of the people may be representing their own interests and not the interests of the people.

3] Rule of ignorance : Democracy does not pay attention to quality but quantity.
Votes are not weighed but are counted.top↑

4] Inadequate political education : During elections, people that are not adequately educated politically may not understand the issue at stake thereby using their political sovereignty or power wrongly.
For example, collection of money for their votes.

5] Decision-making process is slow : Before the final decision is taken on any public issue, everybody is given the opportunity to express his or her views.

6] Manipulation by few : Oftentimes, citizens merely accept the opinions and views expressed by few vocal representatives which may not represent the rule or views of the majority in a democracy.top↑

7] Corruption of election : election are often manipulated or corrupted to favour self-centred and irresponsible representatives through thuggery and the use of money to bribe the people.top↑

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