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What Makes Democracy? Educational Initiatives FAT, 2011


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Title: What Makes Democracy? Educational Initiatives FAT, 2011

What Makes Democracy? Educational
InitiativesFAT, 2011

Core characteristic
  • Democracy is based on the freely expressed will
    of the people to determine their own political,
    economic, social and cultural systems and their
    full and free participation.
  • Democracy is primarily about right to chose and
    right to change the holders of the political
    power in a regular, fair and free elections.
    (electoral democracy).
  • Essential characteristic Positions of political
    power are filled through regular, free, and fair
    elections between competing parties, and it is
    possible for an incumbent government to be turned
    out of office through elections.

Declaration of Independence, USA, 1776
  • "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that
    all men are created equal, that they are endowed
    by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
    that among these are Life, Liberty and the
    pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these
    rights, Governments are instituted among Men,
    deriving their just Powers from the Consent of
    the Governed...
  • The most fundamental concept of democracy is the
    idea that government exists to secure the rights
    of the people and to implement its will and must
    be based on the consent of the governed.

FH criteria for an electoral democracy
  • A competitive, multiparty political system
  • Universal adult suffrage
  • Regularly contested elections conducted on the
    basis of secret ballots, reasonable ballot
    security and the absence of massive voter fraud
  • Significant public access of major political
    parties to the electorate through the media and
    through generally open political campaigning.

Dahls concept of polyarchy
  • All adult citizens have the right to vote
  • All adult citizens are eligible for public
  • Political leaders have the right to compete for
  • Elections are free and fair
  • All citizens are free to form and join political
    parties and other organisations
  • All citizens are free to express themselves on
    all political issues
  • Diverse sources of information about politics
    exist and are protected by law
  • Government policies depend on votes and other
    expressions of preference.

Fundamental features of a democracy
  • Government based on majority rule and the consent
    of the governed
  • Political pluralism (multiparty system) and free,
    fair and regular elections
  • Constitutional limits on government
  • Majority rule / minority rights
  • Rule of law equality before the law
  • Due process.

Fundamental features of a democracy
  • Accountability and Transparency
  • Economic Freedom
  • Respect to Basis Human Rights
  • Freedom of Expression
  • Freedom of Association
  • Freedom of Religion

FH ratings are based on questions such as
  • Are the legislative representatives elected
    through free and fair elections?
  • Do the people have the right to organize in
    different political parties or other competitive
    political groupings of their choice, and is the
    system open to the rise and fall of these
    competing parties or groupings?
  • Are there free trade unions and peasant
    organizations or equivalents, and is there
    effective collective bargaining? Are there free
    professional and other private organizations?

FH ratings
  • Is there academic freedom, and is the educational
    system free of extensive political
  • Does the rule of law prevail in civil and
    criminal matters? Is the population treated
    equally under the law? Are police and military
    under direct civilian control?
  • Are property rights secure? Do citizens have the
    right to establish private businesses? Is private
    business activity unduly influenced by government
    officials, the security forces, or organized

More expanded definition
  • Consensus on basics of society, what are the core
    identities and values, for example consensus what
    is the territory, who is citizen and who is not,
  • Basic civic and political rights are respected,
    particularly freedom of expression, of
    information and of association. Citizens have the
    right to express themselves on political matters,
    without the risk of state punishment. Citizens
    have the right to seek out alternative sources of
    information. Citizens have the right to form
    independent associations, including independent
    political parties and interest groups.

Liberal democracy
  • All democracies are systems in which citizens
    freely make political decisions by majority rule.
    But rule by the majority is not necessarily
    democratic. In a democracy majority rule must be
    combined with guarantees of individual human
    rights and the rights of minorities.

Right to chose
  • Free fair elections. Elections are primarily
    between different parties, political and
    ideological groupings, but there are other
    competitions within the democratic society,
    competition between government press, between
    civil society the government, between central
    regional governments.

Division between the executive, legislative and
juditiary power
  • Control over government decisions about policy is
    constitutionally vested in elected
    representatives. Elected representatives exercise
    their constitutional powers without facing
    overriding opposition from unelected officials.
    Elected representatives have effective control
    over State force, whether civilian or military.
    Independent judiciary and legal profession, and
    investigative forces operating under rules
    designed to ensure impartiality and integrity.

Rule of law
  • State, including policy-makers, ministerial civil
    servants, and members of the repressive apparatus
    (army, police) as well as economic elites must
    obey rules.

Inclusion, non-discrimination, respect to
minority rights
  • If parts of the society (some minorities) are
    excluded, we do not have democracy. Citizens
    should be able to exercise their rights in a
    democracy without any discrimination as to race,
    color, sex, language, religion, political or
    other opinion, national or social origin,
    property, birth or other status. Democratic state
    encourage and invest in the participation if
    minorities. Equal chances are important
    characteristic of democracy. This means providing
    practical help to overcome obstacles of status
    and/or condition.

Good governance
  • Institutions work well, they are efficient, they
    deliver in a reasonably long and predictable time
    what they are instituted for, and they serve
    broader public interests not private or
    particular interests. When we say institutions,
    we mean primarily governmental, state
    institutions (government, judiciary, police,
    prosecutors, infrastructure, educational system,
    health care and social services system etc).

Transparency and accountability
  • Transparency involves the public having access to
    reliable information on how those who exercise
    public power use it, especially their use of
    public resources. Accountability involves those
    who exercise powers of government being
    answerable to elected representatives for their
    actions, as well as being responsible before the

Participation is also a necessary
  • Citizens cannot be required to take part in the
    political process, and they are free not to
    participate. However, a healthy democracy
    requires the active, freely chosen participation
    of citizens in public life. Democracies flourish
    when citizens are willing to participate in
    public debate, elect representatives and join
    political parties. Without this broad, sustaining
    participation, democracy begins to wither and
    become the preserve of small, select groups.

Democratic political culture
  • A democratic political culture is also crucial
    for functioning and sustainability of democracy.
    A culture of passivity and apathy, an obedient
    citizenry, are not consistent with democracy. The
    electoral process periodically divides the
    population into winners and losers. A democratic
    political culture implies that the losing parties
    and their supporters accept the judgment of the
    voters, and allow for the peaceful transfer of

Economist categorization
  • Full democracies Basic political freedoms and
    civil liberties are respected. Political culture
    is conducive to the flourishing of democracy. The
    functioning of government is satisfactory. Media
    are independent and diverse. There is an
    effective system of checks and balances. The
    judiciary is independent and judicial decisions
    are enforced.
  • Flawed democracies These countries also have
    free and fair elections and even if there are
    problems (such as infringements on media
    freedom), basic civil liberties will be
    respected. However, there are significant
    weaknesses in other aspects of democracy,
    including problems in governance, an
    underdeveloped political culture and low levels
    of political participation.

  • Hybrid regimes Elections are not free and fair.
    Government pressure on opposition parties and
    candidates. Serious weaknesses in political
    culture, functioning of government and political
    participation. Corruption is widespread and the
    rule of law is weak. Civil society is weak.
    Typically there is harassment of and pressure on
    journalists, and the judiciary is not
  • Authoritarian regimes Political pluralism is
    absent or heavily limited. Elections, if they do
    occur, are not free and fair. There is disregard
    for abuses of civil liberties. Media are
    state-owned or controlled by groups connected to
    the ruling regime. There is repression of
    criticism of the government and censorship. There
    is no independent judiciary.

Types of Governments
  • Absolute monarchy ruled by one person who
    passes on the power to rule in his or her family
    (the leader is the king or queen)
  • Constitutional monarchy there is a king or
    queen, but his/her powers are limited and listed
    in the constitution most of the political
    decisions are made by the elected government
  • Republic there is no king or queen rule is by
    the people there may be an elected government,
    a one-party government, or a military government
  • Democratic the government is elected.

  • Presidential Democracy the leader of the
    country is directly elected by the citizens
  • Parliamentary Democracy the citizens vote for
    the parties that will be in Parliament, and the
    Parliament votes on who will be the prime
    minister (usually the head of the party which won
    the most votes)
  • Military regime the top military leaders rule
    the country
  • Dictatorship one person rules the country.
    Technically, a dictatorship means rule by one
    person, but people often use military or
    one-party dictatorship.
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