Democracy - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Title: Democracy Author: MPS Last modified by: MPS Created Date: 9/16/2008 6:55:18 PM Document presentation format: On-screen Show Company: Mesa Public Schools – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Democracy

What is Democracy?
  • Is democracy in the eye of the beholder?
  • Soviets said they had true democracy
  • No social classes, guaranteed employment, etc.
  • U.S. and Europe had a ruling elite which competed
    to dominate the populace
  • The West criticized Soviet style one-party
    control and lack of civil liberties

  • Political power resides with the people
  • How?
  • Direct or indirect participation in policymaking
  • Direct people may vote on policies and
    governing decisions
  • Indirect people may elect representatives in
    government, but do not vote on policy (also
    called republicanism)
  • Participation (elections, pluralism, etc.)
  • Competition
  • Liberty
  • Emphasis on rights has led to the creation of a
    new more specific term liberal democracy

  • Social democratic regimes vs. liberal democratic
  • Social democrats emphasize collective welfare
    over individual rights
  • Both are still democracies, since both hold the
    basic tenets (i.e., participation, competition,

  • Rule of Law
  • Concept originated in England with Magna Carta
    (1215 AD)
  • All individuals are subject to the political
    system regardless of their position of power
  • Participation
  • Suffrage rights are open to all adult citizens
    with few restrictions

Electoral Systems
  • How to divide constituencies
  • Single-Member District system (also called
    plurality system or first-past-the-post system)
  • Used in U.S., United Kingdom, Nigeria
  • Country is drawn into geographic constituencies
  • Election chooses one person to represent that
  • Only the candidate/party with the plurality
    receives representation
  • All losing candidates/parties receive no
    representation for votes they received, no matter
    how much or little they lose by

Electoral Systems
  • How to divide constituencies
  • Single-Member District system (also called
    plurality system or first-past-the-post system)
  • Variation of SMD Majority SMD system
  • Used in France
  • First round determines top 2 finalists for the
  • 2nd round is a runoff to ensure the winner
    receives a majority of the vote

Electoral Systems
  • How to divide constituencies
  • Proportional Representation system (also called
    Multimember District system)
  • Used in most democracies
  • Voters cast a ballot for a party, not a candidate
  • Whatever of the vote the party receives, the
    party will win that of seats in the legislature
  • Party publishes a ranked list of candidates
  • ex. If they win 70 seats, the top 70 names on the
    list go into the legislature

Electoral Systems
  • How to divide constituencies
  • Mixed System
  • Used in Mexico, Germany
  • Legislature is chosen partially by SMD, partially
    by PR
  • Voters are given two ballots, one to elect a
    candidate for an SMD seat, one to elect a party
    for the PR seats

Direct Democracy
  • Some elements of direct democracy appear in some
  • Referendum public vote on a particular policy
  • ex. European countries held referendum votes on
    whether to ratify the EU constitution or not
  • Initiative referendum initiated by the public
  • ex. Propositions in Arizona can be written by
  • Plebiscites nonbinding referendum just to get
    the publics opinion on an issue

Political Parties
  • Necessary?
  • Functions of parties in modern democracy
  • Bring together diverse groups and ideas to create
    majority rule (called interest aggregation)
  • Express those ideas in a way the public and
    political system can understand (called interest
  • Prevent tyranny of majority, since factions can
    exist within parties
  • Means to hold politicians accountable by the
    electorate and fellow elites in the party
  • Political symbol, or shorthand to identify basic
    values tied to a candidate

Separation of Powers
  • Head of State vs. Head of Government
  • Head of State symbolizes and represents the
  • Head of Government handles day to day tasks of
    governing the state
  • Could be the same person, or separate

Head of State Head of Government
United Kingdom Monarch Prime Minister
Russia President Prime Minister
China President Prime Minister
Mexico President President
Iran Supreme Leader President
Nigeria President President
Separation of Powers
  • Presidential vs. Parliamentary System
  • Presidential
  • Voters choose chief executive by direct vote
  • Separate legislative and executive institutions
    (including checks and balances)
  • Usually unite head of state and government
  • Used in U.S., Mexico, Nigeria, Iran (if you
    believe in Iranian elections)
  • Parliamentary
  • Voters elect parliament, majority party in
    parliament elects prime minister
  • Prime minister and cabinet control most
    legislation, though parliament retains the right
    to remove the executive through a vote of
  • Can separate head of state and government
  • Used in United Kingdom

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Separation of Powers
  • Presidential vs. Parliamentary System
  • Semipresidential System
  • Legislature elects a prime minister who serves as
    head of government
  • Voters separately elect a president who holds
    certain powers (ex. foreign affairs, power to
    dismiss prime minister, call national referenda)
  • Question of who is in control depends on each
    issue (or who currently occupies each post)
  • Used in Russia (Ha! Really?), France