Free «Does Democracy Exist in Our World?» Essay
Table of Contents
During the last century, all the power was concentrated in the hands of one person or group of persons who held leading positions regardless of people’s wishes. It was the period of oligarchy and monarchy government systems. People suffered from a lack of rights, restrictions on freedom of speech, thoughts, and inability to choose specific religion. However, these types of government thrived only for short periods of time because they failed to create a strong economic and social system. Therefore, countries realized that they needed the governance system that could help them escape the total control from the authority and give equal opportunities to the citizens. Such form of government is known as democracy, which presents everyone with equal rights. The level of democracy in the country is determined by the level of free thinking of the citizens, their respect for self and others, and government’s recognition of people’s freedom to choose religion or the representatives of the government. The government representatives, local authorities, and citizens have equal opportunities in the regulation of the country. People vote for a leader of the country who can make major decisions and bring significant changes in the country. Therefore, democracy is a necessary condition for changes and progress within the entire society.
It is crucial to consider the hypothesis that difficulties would not arise in democracy if all the conditions of democracy were applied. Currently, the values of democracy lead to formation of cultural and educational community, observance of human rights, and equality of opportunities. These values are recognized throughout the world as universal values. According to Noddings (2013), democracy is more than a form of the government system — it is a model of modern society. Moreover, democratic values had a close connection with the fundamental values of society. If democracy is present in the country, it poses a greater opportunity for the population to express their fundamental human qualities. However, if the society applies all the features and conditions of democracy, there will still be difficulties in exercising democracy. The reality is that society is closely related to the oligarchy and government elite that only wear the mask of democracy. In such conditions, democracy is unworkable because the purposes of the authority and society are different. Most likely, democracy can exist only when a large number of people are similar to each other or want to be similar. Past experiences show that democracy works only when the population shares the same goals and has equal conditions. However, these days, the goals of various groups of people are increasingly different. it is possible that the idea of democracy has always been unworkable, but people must continue to believe in it.
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To fully understand the main idea of the democracy, it is important to consider the terminology, principles, and historical evolution of the system aimed to explore the countries with well-developed democracy as well as thoughts of people about it.
The majority of countries worldwide practice a system of governance that gives their citizens freedom to execute their choices. Democracy has emerged in Athens as the system of government. Isakhan and Stockwell (2012) explained that democracy originated in ancient Greece and then spread around the world. The word consists of two parts that explain the meaning of democracy. According to Ishiyama (2011), “The literal meaning of democracy comes from a combination of two Greek words demos (people) and kratos (rule)” (p.27). The term of democracy is equated to words such as freedom, right, equality, and fairness, and phrases such as the absence of discrimination and dictatorship. Democracy offers equal opportunities for the citizens to participate in the development of laws and proposals through direct actions or the process of election of their own representatives in the government. As a result, the main features of democracy include free and fair election processes, protection of human rights, and the involvement of citizens in political and civic activities. In the democratic system of government, people and their rights play the main and pivotal role. According to democracy, politicians and leaders of nations have to work according to the wishes of simple people. Therefore, the social well-being and better quality of life of the poorest people in the country need to become the main object of their political activities.
According to the history, democracy has emerged at the beginning of the 6th century BC, when the majority of citizens gathered to discuss different problems and decide on the policies of the country. “People confer with each other to secure food, shelter, land, water, and peace for their mutual benefit” (Kaplan, 2015, p.1). However, only male part of the citizens had the rights to vote and make decisions. Women, children, slaves, and foreigners were prohibited from taking part in the election process. In the ancient times, the community wondered if Athens could deal with this new system of government. However, Greek citizens acquired the right to vote for decisions personally and control political processes and all representatives of the authority. It led to the fact that these countries became great and intelligent nations that found their system of government. Therefore, democracy is a form of government established by people for people. Athenian politician Solon was considered as one of the founding members of the democratic system. It was Solon who introduced the system of simple democracy to the public. Hundred years later, Cleisthenes divided the community into ten tribes based on political organization and principles of democracy instead of applying usual family-based approach. During ancient ages, democracy was also practiced in Roman Empire and medieval Europe. Since the end of twentieth century, many countries across the world chose democracy as the form of government, gaining power and being considered as countries with the governments chosen by society.
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A few centuries ago, the majority of countries were colonial countries with limited rights. However, today, most countries in Europe and America and some countries in Asia and West and South Africa have become democratic. Such countries as India, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan also operate under similar principle. The majority of the countries around the world are now regulated by democratic systems with citizens’ participation in political life of a country and elections of the new government. The democratic countries suspended their rise during the two World Wars since many young democratic countries were forced to return to the autocratic system of government. After 1945, the number of countries with democratic system started to grow again. However, the drastic shift toward a democratic world happened after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Currently, 25 countries in the world could be classified as the countries with full-fledged democracy. The top leaders include Iceland, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Australia. The United Kingdom, Spain, Ireland, the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Germany are also the full-fledged democratic countries. Norway has been the leader among democratic countries for several years in a row, based on the principle of parliamentary democracy.
Europe also includes a lot of important democratic nations. The first democratic form of government was established in Europe — in particular, in the Greek city Athens. The first great wave of democracy came in Europe in 1918. Capurro (2017) explained that the democratization had spread over Europe at the end of the First World War. Europe is a motherland to many countries that practice different forms of ruling by people. Among the important European countries that practice democracy are the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. All these countries practice different forms of government system.
India has become one the largest democratic countries in the world after many years of a colonial system of government. Currently, India experiences democracy as a new system of government. Pelinka (2017) stated that India established a system of government with democratic qualities only in the twentieth century. Even today, Indian democracy cannot make appropriate changes and achieve the goal of satisfying the basic needs of all citizens, including the need for education, despite the government efforts.
Norway is the country with the most developed democracy in the world. It has the highest level of trust among the society and politicians. Education, trust, and higher electoral turnout are the most important elements of success of democracy in Norway.
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Two federal presidential republics and largest South American countries such as Brazil and Argentina practice democratic form of government. Obviously, the presidential democracy is the most popular variation of democracy in South America.
Canada is a country in North America. The head of the government is the Queen of Great Britain. Canada is a federation with a parliamentary monarchy and parliamentary democracy.
Australia is in the top ten democratic countries worldwide. The country is recognized as one of the most developed ones in the world, with a stable economy and high GDP per capita. Australia takes second place in the human development index and could easily reach the first one in the rating of democratic countries.
The conditions and features of democracy are determined by the principles of the democratic system of government. The basic principles of democracy have remained the same for long period of time. Democracy should follow such principles as the rule of law, freedom of choice, equal human rights, control of the government by society, personal liberty, free and fair elections, and citizens’ participation.
Rule of Law
The laws operate fairly and apply equally to all people. Democracy is a system of laws, where the rule of law defends the rights of society, ensures the order, and restricts the power of government. According to this principle, all people are equal by law. The principle protects every individual against discrimination on the grounds such as race, gender, disability, or religion. The principle of rule of law states that no person may be arrested or imprisoned without reason and denied freedom without a fair and public statement by the appropriate representative of the authority. Also, no person can be taxed or fined with the exception of cases provided by law, and no one, not even the president or political leaders are above the rule of law. The courts should use the law fairly, impartially, and systematically.
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Human Rights and Freedom of Choice
All persons have the right to enjoy the fundamental rights that include freedom of opinion and expression, freedom to believe in any religion, political party, and become a part of any union of their choice. Furthermore, there are such freedoms as freedom to live or travel anywhere in the country, freedom to work at any job according to qualification, freedom to receive free education in public establishments, and freedom to enter marriage and establish a family, which are the most important rights of the society in the democratic countries. Everyone is also free to meet and discuss all the issues of the nation with respect to the laws. One of the core functions of a democratic society, as well as government system, is to protect the fundamental human rights. In a democratic environment, everyone has certain fundamental rights and the government cannot deprive the society of them. Human rights are recognized and guaranteed around the world. Moreover, all persons have the right to say and write what they think, seek different sources of information, believe in different opinions and ideas. People have the right to join other people in associations and form and join companies of their own choice, including trade unions. All persons have the right to gather and protest against government actions. Nevertheless, the society has obligations to implement their rights in a peaceful way while respecting the law and other humans’ rights.
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Control Over Government by Society
Control over government by society implies that all branches and divisions of the government are ultimately under the control of the country's citizens. In the democratic environment, the society normally has the opportunities to choose the government that will protect the rights of people at the national and parliamentary levels. People also have the power to remove the elected leaders from their respective positions in case they implement ineffective policies. People can participate in the elections and make the changes in the policy of the country. According to Reilly (2016), "Democracy elections provide the opportunities for citizens to directly influence the laws of their community and implement their policy preferences" (p. 3). However, leaders receive the power under temporary conditions.
Majority Rule and Individual Liberties
Democracy system is based on the fundamental principle of majority rule that protects the defined personal rights and liberties. This principle prevents concentrating too much power in the hands of one person or group of people.
Free and Fair Elections
In a democracy environment, elections correspond to such characteristics as free, fair, and open regarding all people. The key role of the society in a democratic system is participation in the political life of the country. The participation of society has many forms. People have obligation to become more informed about public affairs, to monitor the conduct of the politicians and their representatives, and to express their point of view. The participation also includes voting in the elections, participation in debates and discussions, attending public meetings, becoming involved in private and voluntary organizations, and protesting against government’s decisions. However, political participation of people in the democratic system should be peaceful and open to different views of other groups and individuals.
In democracy system, society should see public participation as responsibility in exchange for the protection of their freedoms and civil rights. Accordingly, democratic system of government gives citizens a chance to participate in social life. At all times, society has had the right to monitor the government’s activities and progress regarding different issues, being free to criticize the mistakes or inappropriate actions of political leaders. Now, people can also participate in public discussions that include all affairs of the country. Therefore, citizens can advise the government about dealing with political issues, present petitions in court, and litigate against all unclear activities of the government.
All these principles of the democratic system help to form the basic values of the society and respectful attitude to the law.
At the present time, the world and society have different views about democracy as a fairer system. Many people think that democracy is the right and fairer system that delivers the best benefits for people. Currently, the majority of the communities and countries across the world try to follow the democratic system of the government. Vesey-Byrne (2017) explained that the third part of the world perceives democracy as a very good system. It is believed that democracy is one of the fairest systems in most parts of the world where government exists for people. People think that democracy is a fairer system because it lets people living in a country decide peacefully who is going to rule the country. Schmemann (2017) claimed that despite suffering from numerous disadvantages, countries choose democracy because their people should have a right to vote and change leaders in a peaceful way. Other systems, such as absolute monarchies and military dictatorships, were based on a small group of people deciding who would run the country, bypassing the desires of the majority of society. Therefore, the main part of society in the world is oriented toward democratic system of government and believes in the fairness of the system.
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However, another part of society believes that democracy is the lie due to being fake. The authorities and political leaders only create the visibility of truth and fairness, but in fact, pursue their own benefits. The society gives power to people who are generally incompetent in many questions. Under the guise of fair democracy, political leaders form a parliament where decisions are made behind the back of the voters. Many voters vote based on personality, not the policy offered. According to a common observation, not all citizens are fully aware of the political climate in their country. Some part of society may not be aware of the political situation and could vote wrongly during the elections. Furthermore, some authorities and politicians focus on winning elections rather than on working for people’s benefits.
Having a good democratic system of government is important for the countries. However, if the society experiences a lack of trust in the government and political leaders, it is unlikely that the system there is fair. All of these aspects demonstrate that the society has doubts about a fair democratic system of government.
In conclusion, democracy is practiced in many countries around the world. These countries hold free and fair elections with a guarantee that people’s rights are protected. Moreover, leaders of the countries apply the law equally to all people who take part in civic and political activities. However, a number of countries applies democracy only as a new system of government, after having had colonial or dictatorship regimes for a century.
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Democracy is considered a fair system of government where every person participates in changing their own destiny and the destiny of the country. Furthermore, society is the main source of power in the democratic country, and its success and failure depend on their awareness. Democratic countries aim to establish equal rights for all people, provide good education and other basic needs of life. The principles of democracy based on the equal human rights and freedom of choice wholly support and protect the rights of society. Moreover, democracy needs to guarantee the rule of law and the rule of society in the country. The main aim of democracy is freedom of choice and equal rights of people that every nation should strive to achieve. The democratic system of government is the best form of the government in which the society has all opportunities for developing.