Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Democracy allows eligible citizens to participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.
The term originates from the Greek demokratia "rule of the people", which was coined from demos "people" and kratos "power" in the 5th century BCE to denote the political systems then existing in Greek city-states, notably Athens; the term is an antonym to "rule of an elite. " The English word dates to the 16th century, from the older Middle French and Middle Latin equivalents.
A democratic government contrasts to forms of government where power is either held by one, as in a monarchy, or where power is held by a small number of individuals, as in an oligarchy. Nevertheless, these oppositions, inherited from Greek philosophy, are now ambiguous because contemporary governments have mixed democratic, oligarchic, and monarchic elements. Karl Popper defined democracy in contrast to dictatorship or tyranny, thus focusing on opportunities for the people to control their leaders and to oust them without the need for a revolution. Several variants of democracy exist, but there are two basic forms, both of which concern how the whole body of eligible citizens executes its will. One form of democracy is direct democracy, in which eligible citizens have direct and active participation in the decision making of the government. In most modern democracies, the whole body of eligible citizens remain the sovereign power but political power is exercised indirectly through elected representatives; this is called representative democracy.
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The concept of representative democracy arose largely from ideas and institutions that developed during the European Middle Ages, the Age of Enlightenment, and the American and French Revolutions Definition While there is no universally accepted definition of "democracy,"equality and freedom have both been identified as important characteristics of democracy since ancient times. These principles are reflected in all eligible citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to legislative processes.
For example, in a representative democracy, every vote has equal weight, no unreasonable restrictions can apply to anyone seeking to become a representative, and the freedom of its eligible citizens is secured by legitimized rights and liberties which are generally protected by a constitution. One theory holds that democracy requires three fundamental principles:
- upward control, i. e. sovereignty residing at the lowest levels of authority,
- political equality, and
- social norms by which individuals and institutions only consider acceptable acts that reflect the first two principles of upward control and political equality.
The term "democracy" is sometimes used as shorthand for liberal democracy, which is a variant of representative democracy that may include 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 central attribute, but in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, the dominant principle is that of parliamentary sovereignty (while maintaining judicial independence). 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 also are applicable to private organizations. Majority rule is often listed as a characteristic of democracy. Hence, democracy allows for political minorities to be oppressed by the "tyranny of the majority" in the absence of legal protections of individual or group rights.
An essential part of an "ideal" representative democracy is competitive elections that are fair both substantively and procedurally. Furthermore, freedom of political expression, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press are considered to be essential rights that allow citizens to be adequately informed and able to vote according to their own interests. It has also been suggested that a basic feature of democracy is the capacity of eligible voters to participate freely and fully in the life of their society. With its emphasis on notions of social contract and the collective will of the eligible voters, democracy can also be characterized as a form of political collectivism because it is defined s a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. While democracy is often equated with the republican form of government, the term "republic" classically has encompassed both democracies and aristocracies. Democracy is the best form of government. Yes because... Freedom Democratic states nearly always have freer people than autocratic states. They obviously have the right to vote for their government so by extension deciding the policy of their nation and what their nation should be like.
They have more freedom of speech and expression than in autocracies. In particular they are free to criticise their own government. Represents the people The biggest virtue of Democracy is that it is government by the people for the people. The government represents the views of the people who elect them and can throw them out if the government does things that the people do not like. Unlike other forms of government democracy is about the little man, everyone rather than the elite that are often disconnected from how everyone else lives their lives.
Better governance due to transparency Democracy is as much about having checks and balances to the executive and having transparency of decision-making as it is about elections and the populace throwing governments out of power. In a democracy the parliament, the media and sometimes the judiciary all keep an eye on the executive and what is being done with the people’s money. They are therefore able to see if the executive is doing things that are detrimental to the country, are immoral, or even illegal. This can then be brought to a halt.
Even where such actions are not visible on the surface there are separate institutions that have the power to investigate the executive and watch any ‘secret’ deals or actions that are going on away from public view. Respect of Human Rights Democracy as much it is understood, is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. If democracy is put at it appropriate performance, then, all facet of human rights is respected. The citizens would have the rights to exercise freedom of speech concerning the well-being of the populace in areas of the economy, education, health, infrastructural development, etc.
Promotes Human Rights
As much as Democracy is understood, it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. The ability of the people to have a voice in the running of the State, in the economy, health, education, infrastructural development, etc creates a bit-balanced environment for governance to thrive; this can only be achieved in a democratic governance. This is not the case. The most developed and richest countries are all democracies.
While they may well have been developing their democracies during their initial industrialisation democracy and the freedom it brings is increasingly necessary for economic growth once the country has moved to being mostly dependent upon services rather than manufacturing or natural resource exploitation for economic growth. Once this occurs then creativity becomes important and the freedoms associated with democracy are needed to foster this creativity that is needed for industries such as information technology, creative arts, research and development etc.
Democracy is the best form of government. No because... Freedom Except for the freedom to choose the government there is no reason why people cannot be as free under an autocracy as in a democracy. Represents the people Democracy does not do very well at representing the people. In first past the post systems a government may not even have the support of a majority of those who voted not even including that many will not have votes and many more will not have the vote. This means that it is often a small minority of the population who determines which party gets in to government.
Once they are there they are rarely representative of the people as they have several years to do what they like. Yes they need to think about re-election but that simply means they need to do more that the people like than the people dislike (or else have a good advertising campaign). Better governance due to transparency While this is mostly found in democracy it is not something that has to be exclusive to democracies. Autocracies can potentially be transparent and have checks and balances they however often do not simply because an autocracy often has the time, and the willingness to use force to prevent these from occurring.
Economic growth Autocracies are better at big projects, they can get things done and as such they are likely to be better at creating economic growth if they have the will. In an autocracy there are not the avenues for dissent that can block building projects, the police or troops can be used to clear protests that in the west would slow down large infrastructure projects. As a consequence of this all the infrastructure that is needed to create a modern economy can be produced quicker and cheaper than would be the case in a democracy.
Also the resource base of the country can be accessed faster (no pesky environmentalists preventing drilling and mining! ) and used more efficiently. Increasingly about money In some countries democracy seems to be increasingly about money. The U. S. is the obvious example where millions are spent on elections with big events and glitzy advertising campaigns. This is not what democracy should be about and it discourages other countries from moving along the path to democracy. Indeed it undermines the very idea of democracy. Democracy when money is involved to the extent that it is in the U. S. A. ecomes elitist and corporatist because only the elite and rich businessmen can afford to fund the campaigns for congress let alone for the presidency. The 2008 campaign for the White House cost $1. 6 billion and the whole 2008 election including senate and house of representatives races cost $5. 3 billion. Autocracies obviously avoid this immense expense by avoiding elections. Is democracy the best form of government? Disagree : By Richard What if someone was in power who cared about the people, stood for the people, was in touch with the people and was not corrupted by the power that Dictatorship brought him.
Yes, it seems unlikely but what if? We could have the ability to do more, faster with less red tape, paperwork, and continual discussion (as with a dictatorship) coupled with the freedoms of democracy. The problem is the people always believe the mob (majority) to be right. The truth is people are easily manipulated when in a crowd or together as a majority on an issue. It takes but one person to convince 10 000 that his conviction is the right one. Nevermind what the minority of free thinkers, academics, intellectuals, or revolutionaries have to say or have warned against. Political Ideology is not the problem.
Humans are. We are self-righteous, greedy, self-serving, destructive, and worst of all manipulative. People always point me to the selfless acts of others they have witnessed in order to prove me wrong on my previous statement. But the fact is these selfless people are in the tiny minority, or as with Maslow's hierarchy of needs, already have 10 houses, 4 cars, 2 security guards and a 10 mil bank account. "Giving" to the poor doesn't detract from their riches as they resupply their wealth with shares bought and sold or actually working. Thus, they aren't losing wealth. They simply aren't gaining more.
We need the minority just as much as we need the majority. That minority of free thinkers, academics, intellectuals, and revolutionaries are the ones that changed the world. They brought us medicine, computers, a better understanding of science and space, but most important of all a curiosity for knowledge. Democracy should protect the rights of the minority more often than it does. We rely too much on what the mob thinks, when in actual fact they don't think. They just regurgitate the drivel fed to them by some sob who knows how to manipulate the mob for his own profit. And that is the biggest problem facing democracy.
How do you overcome the this human condition where if we are in large groups, emotion replaces logical thought? Disagree : By Prashanth I think there are better forms of government other than democracy. Dictatorship is not completely bad neither is democracy completely good. Consider this form of government-- Instead of having bulky political parties why not have leaders of parties etc stand as candidates for the post of President/Prime Minister. The people can directly vote for them. Better still we could invite applications for this post from the citizens. Based on screening them for leadership track record,no criminal cases etc. e could select the top 5 or 10 most eligible candidates. People can select the candidate who is most popular/likable for 5 years. He could then select experts from different sectors as ministers. He could hand pick distinguished people from different sectors as expert advisory group who could debate/discuss proposed laws. He can hand pick worthy local people for mayor position in cities/villages who should interact directly with people and pass immediate orders to solve their problems. He should have a citizens forum where people directly give ideas to the Prime Minister/President.
The judiciary to oversee the constitutional validity of laws passed,Election Commission,Constitution and an ombudsman to check corruption etc all of them will be there. This form of government will cut flab,be efficient and agile. It will eliminate unworthy but popular people from getting elected. Also the people debating will be experts in their field. There is greater likelihood of better decisions. As it is today the party leaders only call the shots. Then why not have worthy leaders directly elected by the people. These leaders will keep a balance between expert opinion,constitutional provisions and public opinion.
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