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DEMOCRACY A CONCEPTUALUNDERSTANDING• While some of the Greek city states had regimesthat had Democratic aspects, Modern Democracyonly dates from the late 18th century.• Democratization is one of the most importantconcepts and trends in Modern Political Science.• To be considered Democratic, a country mustchoose its leaders through fair and competitiveelections, ensure basic civil liberties, and respectthe rule of law.
• The opinion and choice of the people is paramountin a Democracy.• Thus it was rightly stated by Abraham Lincoln that‘No man is good enough to govern another manwithout his consent.’• Jonathan swift also said ‘All government withoutthe consent of the governed is the very definition ofslavery.’• According to Abraham Lincoln, ‘Democracy is seenas a form of government by the people, for thepeople and of the people.’
• There are many other countries like Libya, Cuba,North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China etc. that do nothave Democracy in their country. Many of the Non-Democratic countries witness Pro-Democracy ralliesand movements.• Hence, it becomes important for us to understandthe meaning of the term “Democracy”.• To understand the meaning of Democracy we needto look into the definition of Democracy as givenby Abraham Lincoln .• He defined it as the ‘Government of the people, bythe people and for the people’.• In a Democracy the supreme power is retainedand exercised by the people.
• The word Democracy comes from a Greek word‘Demokratia’.• In Greek ‘demos’ means people and ‘kratia’ meansrule.• In simple terms, Democracy is rule by the people.• It is a government by the people in which thesupreme power is vested in the people andexercised directly by them or by their electedrepresentatives chosen after a free and fairelection.• Democracy is thus, a form of government wherepeople have an equal say in the decisions that affecttheir lives.
• DEFINITIONS• Democracy is the “Rule by the people” where ‘the people’includes all adult citizens and ‘Rule’ means that publicpolicies are determined either directly by vote of theelectorate or indirectly by officials freely elected at reasonablyfrequent intervals and by a process in which the value of eachvote is the same. –Pennock• “Democracy is a state where the people are sovereign andguided by laws of its own making, and where the people doby themselves everything that is possible to do, and throughdelegates, everything that is not.” -Robespierre• “Democracy is governance by leaders whose authority isbased on a limited mandate from universal electorate thatselects among genuine alternatives and has some rights topolitical participation and opposition.” -Danziger
• The definition of Democracy helps us to separate itfrom other forms of government.• For example, in Myanmar there is military rule(Dictatorship) and these army rulers are not electedby the people.• Similarly, the rulers of Saudi Arabia rule over thepeople because they happen to be born in a royalfamily (Monarchy).• On the contrary, Democracy is characterized byformal equality of rights and privileges.
EMERGENCE AND EXPANSION OFDEMOCRACY• Democracy in the Greek city states• The term Democracy first appeared in the Greekpolitical and philosophical thought.• The Greek city state of Athens established the firstDemocracy in 508 BC.• The ancient Greeks referred to themselves ascitizens of their hometown - their city-state.• Each city-state (polis) had its own goals, laws andcustoms.• Ancient Greeks were very loyal to their city-state.
• In Athens, every year 500 names were drawn fromall the citizens of Athens who were to serve as lawmakers for a year.• All the citizens of Athens were required to vote onany new law that this body of 500 citizens created.One man, one vote, majority ruled.• Women, children, and slaves were not consideredcitizens, and thus could not vote.
The story of Modern Democracy• The stories of Modern democracy began at leastthree centuries ago.• The emergence of Modern Democracy is linkedwith Europe.• The two revolutions that contributed to thedevelopment of Democracy are the Gloriousrevolution of the 17th century in England and theFrench Revolution of the 18th century in France.
• The Glorious revolution laid the foundation of thefirst democratic principles of the Rule of Law.• Earlier it was believed that the king was the‘representative of the God’ and that the King’swishes were the law.• The people strongly protested the idea anddethroned King James II of England.• They passed the Bill Of Rights which firmly statedthat the country should be governed by the lawspassed by the people and not by the whims of theking.
• The French Revolution took place between 1789and 1851.• In the revolution King Louis XVI was executed .• It was decided that the country should be ruled bythe laws passed by the people.• It laid down the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man’which highlighted that liberty, Equality etc. wereimportant in a Democracy.• In 1792, France became a Republic.