Colonial Politics and Democracy

Democracy is a much contested concept. Its notion differs with reference to the type of government a state employs. But in general sense, democracy pertains to a type of government in which the role and the involvement of every individual are very significant. The term democracy actually is derived from the Greek word demos which means ‘people’, and from kratos which means ‘rule’. In other words, democracy entails a form of government that is ruled by the people themselves. (Tilly, 2007)

It is said that democratization has been one of the impending features of globalization. (Ray & Kaarbo, 2004) Regarding this, states and nations are beginning to patronize the underlying and the basic principles of democracy. But prior to the concept of globalization, colonial politics had been one of the first mechanisms used to promote democracy. (Andrews, 2001)

Some defined features of colonial politics that help the rise and institutionalization of democracy to other states and nations in the world include the idea that ‘power and authority’ should not be bestowed to a single person for that person has this tendency of abusing his obtained power and authority. Conversely, those countries who abide by the principles of democracy divided or distributed both power and authority to three branches of the government, namely: the executive, legislature and judiciary.

Through this structure, checks and balances are very much possible. Another defining mark of colonial politics is the method of ‘governorship’ wherein power and authority is distributed among the elected or delegated governors. These governors rule state provinces. Lastly, the process of election is inherent in a democratic form of government. In this method, every citizen has the right to vote for whom he or she thinks fit to rule. (Lijphart, 1999)

The significance of these features of colonial politics really contributed to the rise of democracy. They show that the role and involvement of every individual are the integral part of democracy. Hence, it should be first arranged and managed by the government in order for the state to function as really democratic.


Andrews, C. M. (2001). Colonial Self-Government, 1652-1689. Adamant Media Corporation.

Lijphart, A. (1999). Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. Yale University Press.

Ray, J. L., & Kaarbo, J. (2004). Global Politics (8th ed ed.). Houghton Mifflin Company.

Tilly, C. (2007). Democracy (First ed ed.). Cambridge University Press.