“Democracy is when the Indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.” -Aristotle
Throughout the history of human civilization, we have lived through innumerable rulers, various governments and hundreds of wars. The sole thing that remained common throughout the history of politics is that the voice of the common public was never louder than when they held the right to vote. This right may seem commonplace now, but we should never underestimate the immense power it holds. So. let’s learn about the form of Government that entitles us to this right, i.e Democracy, and what are the main features of Democracy.
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What is Democracy?
The word ‘Democracy’ is actually derived from Greek origins and essentially means “rule by the people”. Democracy in the modern world is a form of government where people have the ultimate authority over how the Nation operates. Before elaborating upon the key features of democracy, let’s take a look at its two basic forms: Direct and Representative.
Direct Democracy is a type of Democracy where people carry out direct discourse among each other on various topics to arrive at a decision based on the majority opinion. Every person put forth their opinion in the form of a vote to carry out or stop any law or related action. This type of democracy only works in small-sized organizations, being practically impossible with the immense population of a Country.
Representative Democracy focuses on the principle of people electing their representatives. One of the salient features of this type of democracy is that the elected representatives serve the nation on the public’s behalf by taking up various positions of responsibility. This form of Democracy is much more viable to be translated into a form of government nationwide.
Fundamental Features of Democracy
Apart from the above-mentioned types of Democracy, different countries have developed their own unique forms of government, incorporating additional features to suit their socio-cultural requirements. These may include Two-party system, multiple party systems or indirect methods of representative election. However, irrespective of what their practices are, every Government that calls itself a Democracy has certain aspects which are common with other Democracies. These features of democracy are basic empowering tools that every citizen in the country is equipped with, irrespective of any form of social status or standing. So, let’s understand the main features of Democracy in detail:
Free, Fair and Frequent Elections
Amongst the primary features of Democracy, every Democratic country in the world must hold elections, in one way or another and that too periodically. These elections are the voice of the public, the primary way by which they can control and change the Government as per their wishes. These elections must also have complete Transparency and Impartiality in terms imparting voting rights to each and every adult citizen of the country. There must be no partiality or oppression on the basis of race, sex, caste, creed, political views, demographic or any other structural difference or discrimination. Every vote must be valued, and every vote must have one value, i.e. it must carry the same weight in electing representatives. Fulfilling this criterion is paramount for every Democracy, as even today some countries don’t give voting rights to women or people with alternate sexuality. This disqualifies them from being a democracy on the fundamental level and makes the spirit of elections meaningless.
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Representation of Minorities
Every nation in the world has minorities, on one basis or the other. It is one of the prominent Features of Democracy to give equal citizenship rights to each and every one of its countrymen. Exclusion or oppression of minorities should be abhorred, and the legal authority of the country should aid them in holding an equal status of life and livelihood in every possible way. Some Democracies around the world also reserve representative positions for minority groups in proportion to their population size while keeping the rest of the positions free for contention.
Rule within the Constitutional Law
In a Democratic Country, the ruling Government is not paramount. Instead, it is the legislative body that holds the supreme power, as prescribed by the constitution of the Country. As a new government is elected after a fixed period of time, it only has the powers to make decisions and implement them, while making amends in some of the established laws. All such activities can only be done under the supervision of the country’s legislation, which is independent of the ruling government and the posts are held by the people of the country on the basis of their merit and skills.
Freedom of Speech, Expression and Choice
A Democracy which suppresses or withholds the public voice is not valid, violating one of the basic features of Democracy. The voice of the public, even if it is critical to the ruling party, should be allowed to flow freely, letting people formulate their own ideas and expressions, without being in fear of persecution. On the same lines, a citizen of a Democratic country should be able to make independent decisions based on their own discretion, as long as they do not pose a threat to the Laws of the land or any other person. This freedom of actions is what makes a Democracy fruitful. Protesting against what a person feels is wrong should be a legal right, as it is basically the only thing that keeps the ruling parties in check with their actions and policies. Once you eliminate that, you take away all the strength of a group of people thus nullifying the concept of democracy itself.
These are some of the fundamental features of Democracy. Every Nation struggles with its problems and ailments, but that should never translate into posing a threat to the democratic foundations of that country. Interesting in exploring political systems and studying how governments work? Let our Leverage Edu experts assist you in selecting a suitable course and university combination that can help you delve deeper into the study of Political Science and soar towards a rewarding career in this field! Sign up for an e-meeting with us today!