What is Democracy?
Definition of Democracy
Democracy is derived from the Greek words demos (people) and kratos (rule). It means a government that is ruled by the citizens of the society. People vote on issues as a group.
Features of Democratic Government :
- Representatives are elected by the people.
- Every citizen is allowed to vote in the elections.
- Everyone has the same political rights, whatever their income, race, religion, etc
- The majority party makes the decisions but individual rights (freedom of speech) are also protected.
- Certain restrictions are placed on law makers’ powers and they can only be in office for a limited amount of time.
Types of Democracy
- Each citizen votes on all important matters.
- Switzerland has a direct democratic government. Citizens can accept or reject decisions made by the legislative body.
- This kind of democracy is suitable for small states with few people. Suppose you decide to form a club. You and the other members decide that each one of you will vote on matters concerning the club. This is an example of direct democracy.
- Supposing your club has so many members that you all can’t meet at the same time, to vote on matters. You all hold elections to elect representatives like a Director and a Treasurer to run the club on an everyday basis, on your behalf. This is an example of representative democracy.
- In the federal republic of USA, people elect the government officials who act on behalf of their constituencies.
History of Democracy
- Democratic government first came into place in Greece.
- In the Middle Ages, feudalism allowed people to protect their rights in courts.
- Later, the Magna Carta (a British document) had 63 clauses that allowed people to have a fair trial and gave them more power than they had before.
- Thomas Jefferson’s “Declaration of Independence” in USA in 1776 created a stronger and proper democratic government.