Democracy cannot be defined as act to be completed. It is not an objective to be achieved; even it is not mission to be materialized. It is a dream, it is vision. We run for it. We don’t know who can reach it?
As defined by the US President Abraham Lincoln, it is a dream. We don’t want to be ruled, we want to be our rulers. Everybody can’t be ruler, rulers can’t transform themselves into as public to be ruled; it is possible only in dreams. Everybody can be ruled, simply process can crown anybody as ruler. By adopting some unique method the people can elect the ruler; it is real. ‘Dream’ part of the definition is ‘for the people’ Tom and Harry are ruled years to gather, they are dreaming to be ruler, here dreams remain without fruit. They are dissatisfied and frustrated. They list themselves in the demonstrations taking place all over the world.
‘A young German Lady shunted her mouth with one euro note wants to get back her freedom of speech.’
‘Share market investors, from wall street stared demonstrations all over western world for better economic conditions. High oil price and high growth rate with a over heated economy with an unique distribution system Middle east and China are in good economic condition. Chinese have enough money to buy whatever they want to. But they can’t; the state restricts them, state does allow. They are demonstrating in the Tiananmen Square demanding free economy. On the other hand, the Arabians enjoying free economy & stable economy, even then they are not satisfied under dictators. Arab dictators are violation their human rights brutally. They agitate everywhere.
The western world is under deep depression. Now they are deprived from basic needs, which usually no happen in the western world. Price is sky high; they can’t buy those with which they are used to. Now they can’t, share price is low they can not sell. They are on the street.
Democracy is a political solution, life is social, economical and to some extent emotional. Macsloves hierarchy of need says hungry peoples are ready to trade of freedom of speech for food, third peoples are doing it without hesitation with full bally people want to have freedom of speech and human rights. Chinese and Arabians are demanding those. Even they are ready to die for those.
After fall of socialism democracy is blowing around the world. We have democracy, then why those things are going on around us? People started talking;
-Does democracy fail to protect the rights of human being?
U.S. president Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) defined democracy as: “Government of the people, by the people, for the people”
By definition democracy is by far the most challenging form of government –both for politicians and for the people. The term democracy comes from the Greek language and means “rule by the (simple) people”. The so-called “democracies” in classical antiquity (Athens and Rome) represent precursors of modern democracies, like modern democracy, they were created as a reaction to a concentration and abuse of power by the rulers. Yet the theory of modern democracy was not formulated until the Age of Enlightment (17th/18th centuries), when philosophers defined the essential elements of democracy: separation of powers, basic civil rights/human rights, religious liberty and separation of church and state.
Due to failure to fulfill the expectation of the desires of the people, democracy is often criticized by the common people. Out of their frustration they define democracy as:
“Government off the people, buy the people, and far from the people.” Now a day’s democracy is out of the reach of the people; leaders want to buy the expression of the people using money and muscles. As such democracy is far away from the people. Expression of the present Chief Election Commission (CEC) of the people’s Republic of Bangladesh on 23rd October,2011, confirmed the peoples popular verdict by saying ‘taka pele niben, bhebe chinte vote diben’- it is in bangle, translation is like that’ if somebody offers you money, don’t hesitate, take those; but cast your vote carefully to the appropriate person. The reality can’t be ignored, even CEC could not, but most of the leading news papers criticized his statements, saying it will instigate the voters for corrupt practices. How far it would be true, I don’t know, but no comments are available yet from the honorable CEC.
Evolution of Democracy and confusion create from the Classical Definition
Don’t know why, the political scientists are somehow reluctant to define democracy in a proper manner. Usually they are not giving details during defining democracy. From that point of view it is articulated as opposite to other types of government;
MonarchyGovernment by a single ruler (king/queen, emperor)
AristocracyGovernment by noblemen (hereditary)
OligarchyGovernment by few persons
TheocracyGovernment by God” (in reality this means government by religious leaders)
DictatorshipGovernment by people that have seized power by force (often: military dictatorship)
Today, the majority of democratic countries in the world are republics, i.e. officials are elected. Some well-established democratic countries in Europe, however, (the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg and the Scandinavian countries) are constitutional monarchies, i.e. a king or queen is head of state while the constitution guarantees nevertheless all basis rights as in any democratic republic and sets clear limits to duties and competences of the monarch. Such a king can be regarded as a stabilizing factor rather than as a danger for a democracy. Should a complete democratic valued person will agree with the statement that monarch will be a stabilizing factor rather than a danger. I hope not; as because we experienced the bloodshed in Nepal. If the monarch is working for stabilizing the democracy; crowns may work as a damaging factor for destabilization on the democratic process. Therefore the classical definition of democracy is little helpful – at least concerning monarchy.
Modern Democracy Need to be ‘of & by’ the people
Because the definition of the term democracy is opposite to monarchy and aristocracy rather creates confusion with regard to constitutional monarchies instead of establishing clarity. Some political scientists started talking regime prevails in Libya are also a form of democracy. As because; the than Libyan regime also elected democratically. Some monarchs or kings are united together to rule the kingdoms. For example, the United Arab Emirates can‘t be an example of democracy. Adolf Hitler was a popularly elected Vice Chancellor of Germany, but it was far from the people. Perhaps we are making mistake by giving more and more importance on the process by which they are elected, without considering the free and fairness of the totality and their behavior after they are elected. During socialism in Soviet Union or In People’s Republic of China socialist or communist party leaders, even than it was not cognized as democratic process.
Thus it is more appropriate to consider many other things, such as the process, free and fairness of the selection of the process and how the elected peoples are behaving those should be taken in to consideration during defining the democracy. Simply democracy is opposite to authoritarian and totalitarian regimes have created lot of confusions among us and it will continue to do so if details of democratic, authoritarian and totalitarian regimes ingredients are known to us:
Form of government, where a constitution guarantees basic personal and political rights, fair and free elections, and independent courts of law.
Government by a little group of leaders on the basis of an ideology that claims general validity for all aspects of life and usually attempts to replace religion. The regime does not tolerate any deviation from its state ideology. Regime opponents are persecuted, tortured, detained in concentration camps and members of ethnic minorities are killed in mass executions (genocide).
Historic examples of totalitarian regimes include: National Socialism (Germany under Hitler, 1933-1945) and Stalinism
Government by a little group of leaders. In contrast to totalitarian regimes, authoritarian regimes have no distinct state ideology and grant some amount of freedom (e.g. economic and cultural) as long as their rule is not jeopardized. The most important goal of authoritarian regimes is the maintenances of power and the personal enrichment on cost of the country and its population.
“Government by God”: in reality this means s government by religious leaders. Usually a certain interpretation of ancient religious laws replaces modern forms of law and is enforced with utmost severity.
Example: Islamic Republic of Iran.
Key Elements ‘for the people’ of democracy are importance; does is exist?
We are doing mistake when we consider it as a process, some of us consider it as method some us consider it as desire of some state, some cast, some group of people etc. But it is not. It is in real sense state of situation where key elements of democracy prevail than we can say the democracy is for the people. Otherwise it will go far from the people.
In order to deserve the label modern democracy, a country needs to fulfill some basic requirements – and they need not only by written down in its constitution but must be kept up in everyday life by politicians and authorities:
Guarantee of basic Human Rights to every individual person vis-a-vis the state and its authorities as well as vis-a-vis any social groups (especially religious institutions) and vis-a-vis other persons.
Separation of Powers between the institutions of the state.
Government (Executive Power],
Parliament [Legislative Power] and
Courts of law [Judicative Power]
Freedom of opinion, speech, press and mass media
General and equal right to vote (one person, one vote)
Good Governance (focus on public interest and absence of corruption)
Usually such things never happened in the present democratic world. Not having the things mentioned above, general peoples are confused and tried to define democracy not like US President Abraham Lincoln.
Even Churchill was not satisfies with the democracy
Churchill defined democracy so he could justify the mixture of monarchy and west minister democracy. Even British are not relying on pure democracy. They tried to balance with the both. As such peoples are joking; five queens will exist till end of the earth.
Some body may ask,
-“Which are those fives?
Answer is certainly,
-“Four queens of the cards and one of Britain will remain in the world till end”.
“No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”
This famous quote attributed to the former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) focuses right on the weak spot of democracy: From his definition some might say, he praised the democracy, at the same time others can claim that he expressed his dissatisfaction on democracy.
There is no such thing as the “perfect form of government” on earth, but any other form of government produces even less desirable results than democracy. Until today, no other form of government has been invented that could regulate public affairs better than democracy.
Democracy should it be unique or differ?
History of human civilization is far older than the concept of state; as well as democracy. A state, governments, systems-democracy- socialism- autocracy etc. are created or appears in the reality as a need of the society. Societies are varies based on location of the society, the religion most of the people practices, socio-economic status of the society, even other habits like, food, clothing etc. also play role on the determining key elements and its prioritization. Democracy is not a sharply defined form of government that would need to be implemented in just one and no other way. Both in theory and in practice there are as many systems of democracy as democratic countries. Nevertheless there are some general features as well as some groups of democratic systems that may be distinguished from each other.
Lot of controversies is discussed in the feature. Now it is really difficult to identify some common features of democracy. Even than Contrary to other authors, I will not try to present pure and ideal theories but I rather trying to distinguish the common features of democracy in everyday political life. Those common features might help the students to understand the democracy in a better way.
The common Features of Democracy
Before we look at the differences it might be useful to recall the basic principles should common to all forms of democracy, but we can otherwise.
Separation of Powers:
·Legislative Power: parliament normally in two chambers
·Executive Power : Government and administration
·Judicative Power: courts of justice
Laws debated and passed by the parliament
Decrees by the government based on laws and regulating the details how to the laws shall be applied in practice
Though there are massive differences on how frequent referendums are and on which level they apply (constitution or single laws), the concept as such is known in any practical form of democracy.
Democracy we can see
Any form of democracy tries in its own way to ascertain the will of the people and to bring public affairs into line with it. Theoretically this can be achieved by direct participation of all citizens (Direct Democracy) or by a body of elected representatives (Representative Democracy). Within the group of Representative Democracies the focus may be on a strong president (Presidential Democracy) or on a strong parliament (Parliamentary Democracy). As already mentioned, the question is not whether there exist some forms of direct participation or of representation but rather on how much importance they are given in a certain system. Some differences inthe systems of the direct, presidential and parliamentary democracy are given below. It might be beneficial for the students. Remember it is rather indicative not exclusive.
Examples: USA, France
Examples: UK, Germany, Spain, Italy
Head of Sate
Any member of government in turn (for one year), no practical importance
The president is head of state and leader of the government
Head of State
Is a different function than Prime Minister, it may be a monarch (queen/king) or an elected person
Government: members with equal rights, elected by the parliament,
Representing all major parties (not really unanimous, but extremely stable)
President elected by the people nominates the ministers [members of government]
Government elected by the parliament based on a majority, may be dismissed by the parliament (especially when based on a coalition of several parties)
Parliament elected for a fixed legislative period, no dissolution; changing coalitions, sometimes even extreme right and extreme left together against the center (though for different reasons)
Parliament elected for a fixed legislative period clear institutional separation of parliament and government (but the officials may cooperate as closely as in the other systems, if they like to do so)
Parliament elected for a legislative period, dissolution and early new elections possible if a clear majority cannot be established
Government members need not be members of parliament
Government members need not be members of parliament
Government members must be elected members of parliament
Strong position of the people (frequent referendums on single laws)
Strong position of the president (veto)
Strong position of the political parties
Laws are created in four steps:
1. Draft by the administration
2. Consultation of federal states, political parties, entrepreneurs, unions and other interested group
3.Parliamentary debate and final version passed
4. Possibility of a referendum
If a strong party or lobby threatens to call for a referendum, the parliament might be inclined to a compromise, the formal consultation process gives the public a clear view of the critical aspects and the pros and cons already at an early stage
Laws are debated and passed by the parliament; lobbyists do not have a formal right to be heard, but do exercise some influence on members of parliament in reality; the president may block a law by veto;
As the president is elected as a personality (not only as a party leader) by the people (not by the parliament), he may or may not relyon a majority of the parliament (in practice there have been some periods with a president forced to cooperate with a majority of oppositional members of parliament)
Laws are proposed by the government (being the leaders of the coalition of parties)
Laws are debated and passed by parliament; lobbyists do not have a formal right to be heard, but do exercise some influence on members of parliament in reality; if there is a solid majority, compromises are sought within the coalition (an d may sometimes represent tactics rather than conviction), the opposition may be ignored until the next elections but then laws may be revoked or changed by a new majority
The process of making laws is rather slow, which may be a handicap with more technically oriented laws (regulating questions of broad public interest but addressing a small number of professionals). Laws concerning everybody’s everyday’s actions, however, may get more attention and acceptance by the public and therefore by more effective due to the intense public debate.
A strong president may act immediately – but there is a certain risk that he rushes to conclusions he may hardly be willing to withdraw from even if they prove to be unwise from a later point of view.
If there are many small parties in a country, the close dependence of the government on a parliamentary majority may undermine the stability of the government.
History shows that from time to time the Swiss people does correct decisions of parliament and government that give in too much to lobby pressure, so Direct Democracy seems to offer effective checks and balances. But sometimes it just takes a long time (decades, not years) until a new idea is finally broadly accepted.
The separation of powers- though it might seem very clear in theory – does not automatically provide more effective checks and balances between parliament and government than in a Parliamentary Democracy.
If there are only two relevant parties and one has a comfortable majority, the parliamentary system offers few effective checks and balances.
Does it work?
It works, because other forms of the government produces less desirable results than democracy.
Therefore the practical results-measurable by different factors such as national wealth (both mean income and distribution of wealth), accessibility and standards of education, life expectancy, infant mortality, corruption and so on – tend to depend less on the choice of one system or another but rather on what might be called an “established culture of democracy”, consisting of both know-how (experience how the system once chosen works in practice) and trust that it works and it pays – for the society as a whole as well as for the individuals.