Democracy can be defined as a system of government in which a country's political leaders are elected by the people through a free and fair elections. The term democracy is derived from a Greek word 'demos' which means the people and 'kratos' which also mean power or government by the people. Therefore, democracy can be explained as a system of government where the people are allowed to rule or govern themselves. Also, it is a system of government where it's authority is from the express opinion and will of the people through elected representatives.
Abraham Lincoln once defined democracy as "government of the people, by the people and for the people".
Harod Laski also said, "democracy is a system of government which ensures social, political and economic equality.
There are some features of democracy. Some of these features are; free and fair elections, existence of rule of law and many others. Therefore, democracy is important because;
First, democracy prevent dictatorship. Dictatorship is an authoritarian form of government where there is a single leader or group of leaders. Democracy prevents dictatorship because of the practice of separation of powers where the three arms of government namely the executive, the legislature and the judiciary operate on their own without any interference. Also, the existence of judicial review and press freedom. Under press freedom, the media including the news paper, television and radio station are given complete independence and freedom to operate without any political influence and intimidation. This enables the media house to constructively criticize bad government actions, decision and policies and they have served as a watch dog. These makes it extremely difficult for the ruling government to become a dictator in democracy.
The Constitution also has helped in democracy. Firstly, the constitution is a document containing rules and regulations that establish both the structure and affairs of an organized group of people. The rules and regulations bind members of a particular organization including political parties, clubs, society unions, associations and many others. The construction which is the highest law of the land establishes and determines the powers and functions of government institutions like the legislature, the executive, the judiciary, the police service, the armed forces etc. It also sets out the system of government and guarantees fundamental human rights and freedoms. In a democratic societies, there are always the existence of a well constructed Parliament, composed of representatives of the people to debate and discuss government policies before approving them for holding public offices. Citizens of state enjoys equal rights to hold public or state offices provided the basic academic, technical or professional qualifications can be provided. The existence of judicial independence features prominently under liberal democracy. Judges or the courts are given complete independence from the other organs of government to enable them perform their duties without fear or favor. The construction again is important in democracy because it prevents the abuse of power. Under democracy, the government is supposed to rule strictly according to the laws or construction and the three arms of government are separated from each other with some powers to control the other, the ruling government has very little chance to abuse its power unlike autocracy.
Democracy has made the voices and views of the majority rules, opposition and pressure groups to be heard. There is respect of majority views thus, majority of people are allowed to take part in choosing rulers and making decisions on issues that affects the whole society or a section of it. Therefore, the concept of majority rule must always prevail at levels, that is at the local and national levels. There is also respect for opposition views. The government is always expected to tolerate the views of the opposition parties. All shades of opinions must be respected and tolerated by both the rulers and the ruled. Both the majority and minority must tolerate each others views. There is also freedom of the pressure groups whereby the mass media is given a free hand to operate without press censorship intimidation and coercion. Also the pressure group which is a social group or voluntary organisation which makes efforts to influence government decision and policies in favour of its members. Democracy has helped pressure groups because they are able to influence government policies towards their own interests or in other directions. Pressure groups helps to control the emergence of dictatorship and political extremism by ensuring that the interest of the people are protected in a state. Pressure groups continually criticize unpopular government policies and laws, especially if they against the interest of its members. This helps put the government in it toes. Pressure groups evaluate and measure the performance of government based on its policies and programmes to determine whether or not the government is accepted to the people. So due to democracy, the pressure groups, the majority views, the opposition can express their views and feelings towards decision. This acts of democracy protect the rights of individuals. Democracy has helped to guarantee fundamental human rights and liberty of citizens. This has brought freedom. It has prevented individuals from infringing on the rights of citizens in a state. There is also equality before the law due to democracy. Democracy has helped to enforce the practice which is equality before the law. It says that all citizens irrespective of their social, health, political, financial statuses are equal in the eyes of the law. Therefore citizens are given equal and fair treatment without any form of discrimination and bias under democracy.
Democracy brings peaceful change of government. Democracy provides a peaceful means by which a government is changed for another government to continue ruling. The lifespan of a government is determined by the people through a free and fair elections. Through this government is peacefully changed for another. Also, periodic change of government. Democratic societies requires periodic political changes. Thus, elections are frequently conducted to give the people the opportunity to change the trustees of power whenever they find it necessary to have a change of government because power cannot be conferred on any group of people permanently. This change of government is through a free and fair election. The authority of government should not be the use of force, but by the consent of the people. Thus, there is always the existence of an independent electoral commission to conduct free and fair elections base on universal adult suffrage, that is, the principal that, all qualified adult citizens should be allowed to vote to give the chance to elect their own representatives. The people of the societies to decide the one to lead them through their power of voting. These promote political participation. Democracy allows citizens to choose their own representatives through free, fair and periodic elections. Democracy has allowed citizens to form political parties, take part in national debates and criticize bad policies of a government.
Lastly, democracy is important because, it helps in socio economic development. Societies who practice democracy normally believes in the capitalist ideology where citizen or private sector is allowed to take part in nation building. So individuals have the opportunity to speak to influence socio economic development.
With these above points, I say it is important to live in democracy.
A high school graduate of Presbyterian senior high school-Osu.
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