TOPIC: IS IT IMPORTANT TO LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY?
Democracy, according to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States of America, (1809-1865) defined Democracy as the “Government of the people, for the people, and by the people.” But Democracy is simply nothing but a system of government in which power is vested into the people, who rule either directly or through freely elected representatives that is, it is the citizens who take charge of the directive of electing people into power. It can also be defined as a political or social unit governed ultimately by all its members. Democracy implies that the man must take responsibility for the affairs and maintenance of his own rights against the possible and probable encroachments of the government which he has sanctioned to act for him in public matters. - Ezara Pound, “ABC of Economics” 1993.
The types of democracy include: Direct democracy, Representative democracy, Parliamentary democracy, Participatory democracy, Authoritarian democracy, Presidential democracy, Islamic democracy, and Social democracy. Direct democracy, is when citizens get to vote for a policy directly, without any intermediate representatives or houses of parliament. Representative democracy, deals with the choosing of people who will represent them in a parliament. It is the most common form of democracy found across the world. Presidential democracy, the president of a state has a significant amount of power over the government he/she is either directly or indirectly elected by citizens of the state. The president and the executive branch of government are not liable to the legislature, but cannot under normal circumstances, dismiss the legislature entirely. Countries like America, Argentina, and Sudan employ this kind of democracy. Parliamentary democracy, gives more power to the legislature. Authoritarian democracy, this is when only the Elites are part of the parliamentary process. Participatory democracy is the exact opposite of Authoritarian democracy the Elites are not part of this type of democracy. The Elites are a small number of people usually those who are wealthy, well educated, and have an important position in the society or a particular group that influence political decision making. Islamic democracy, seeks to apply Islamic law to public policies, while simultaneously maintaining a democratic framework. Islamic democracy has the three main characteristics; firstly, the leaders are elected by the people. Secondly, everyone is subject to the Sharia law. Thirdly, the leaders must commit to practicing ‘shura’a special form of constitution practiced by Prophet Mohammed. The only countries that fulfill these three characteristics are Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Other Islamic countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and e.t.c fit the bill of Authoritarian regimes better than democracy. Democracy aims at empowering the state over the mere whims of the neoliberal market. The state can increase its expenditure by providing free alternatives to overpriced private ventures.
The features of democracy include, periodic free and fair elections, supremacy of the constitution, will of the people, multi-party system, tolerance of opposition, independent judiciary, freedom of the press, fundamental human rights, rule of law, separation of powers, and accountability of the government to the people. Conducting periodic free and fair elections is the responsibility of the democratic institutions. They ensure that the citizens of a country vote in any election. The supremacy of the constitution simply shows that the constitution is a very powerful document in the current regime of any countries legal system. In the will of the people, political theory, and a collectively held will that aims at the common interest. Multi party system is a system in which multiple political parties across the political spectrum run for national election, and all have the capacity to gain control of government offices, separately or in coalition. Apart from one party and two party systems, multi party systems tends to be more common in parliamentary systems than presidential systems and far more common in countries that use proportional representation better view. Tolerance of opposition means accepting and respecting the basic rights and civil liberties of persons and groups whose view, points differ from one’s own. All citizens including political leaders have a responsibility to practice tolerance in their words and actions. Independent judiciary is the concept that the judiciary should be independent from other branches of government. That is courts should not be subject to proper influence from the other branches of government or from private or partisan interests. Judicial independence is important to the idea of separation of powers. Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the principle that communication and expression through various media, including printed and electronic media especially published articles or materials, should be considered freely such freedom implies the absence of interference from an overreaching state, its preservation may be sought through constitutional or other legal protections. Fundamental human rights are natural and inherent in all human begins regardless of their nation, language, religion, ethnic origin and any other status. These rights are embedded in our laws to avoid mankind living barbaric. To further buttress the essence of fundamental rights, the countries of the world came together under the general assembly of the United Nations and proclaimed the universal declaration of human rights as a common standard of achievement for all people and all nations. They are the legal entitlements which every citizen should enjoy without fear of the government or their fellow citizens. Some of these rights include; right to life, right to dignity of human persons, right to franchise, right to fair hearing, etc. the rule of law is the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well defined and established laws. The rule of law is the authority and influence of law in the society, especially when viewed as a constraint on individual and institutional behavior. The principle that all people and institutions are subject and accountable to law that is fairly applied and enforced; the principle of government by law, Separation of powers is the principle or system of vesting in separate branches of the Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature. These tasks are assigned to these different arms of government in such a way that each of them can check the others. Separation of powers provides a system of shared power known as checks and balances. Separation of powers therefore refers to the division of government responsibilities into distinct branches to limit any other branch from exercising the core functions of another. Accountability of the government to people; Accountability in democracy, ensures that actions and decisions taken by public officials are subject to oversight so as to guarantee that government initiatives meet their stated objectives and respond to the needs of the community. Democratic institutions are also involved in democracy and such include electoral commissions or bodies, example I.N.E.C as in Nigeria, stands for the Independent National Electoral Commission. An electoral commission is a body charged with overseeing the implementation of election procedures. The exact name used varies from countries to countries. Such terms used include; electoral commission and central election. The electoral commission is an independent body set up by the countries parliaments. It regulates party and election finances and sets standards for well-run elections. Political parties; a political party is an organized group of people, with common views, who come together to conduct elections and hold power to the government. Pressure groups try to influence public policy in the interest of a particular cause. Arms of government the arms of government imply that the life of the society is managed on this three various levels. Pillars of democracy are those elements that make up democracy and they include, the people, democratic institutions, rule of law, majority rule and minority rights, transparent electoral processes.
The importance of living in a democracy in the society is given reason that, democracy ensures that the majority of the people participates in the government affairs and also protects the interests of the minority. It promotes stability in the country, by ensuring a peaceful change of the government through electoral processes. Democracy ensures that people enjoy their fundamental rights, by entrenching them in the constitution of the law which is supreme. Democracy gives people the voting rights to choose whoever they want as their leaders. It ensures that there is no misuse or abuse of power because; the powers are not concentrated in the hands of the government. Democracy allows people freely to criticize the government in power. It ensures that the minority will have a say in government affairs while the majority will have their way. Democracy allows the operation of the rule of law since the government and the people will act in accordance with the law of the state, country, or particular community. In democracy, decisions are taken through discussion, dialogue, deliberation, debate, consultations and persuasions. It does not support the suppression of opinions of people. It encourages political development of the people, through participation in the running of the affairs of the government. Democracy also improves human rights and freedom. #essay contest 2018.