Basic Features of Democracy With Detail

on February 03 at 06:34 AM


Democracy is a form of government in which people elect their rulers. Now, the question is, who becomes the rulers? Who are the people who elect the rulers? And how, how do we ensure that the rulers work for the benefit of the people's welfare? There are 4 pillars of democracy.

Feature of democracy

Feature number one

Decision making power should rest with the people. That means, the rulers elected by the people must take all major decisions.
Let us take the example of Pakistan under General Musharraf. In 1999, General Musharraf overthrew the existing democratic government, and declared himself as the chief executive of the country. Later he called himself the president of Pakistan. In 2002, he did a referendum that is like a gentle voting, where he got people support, and his tenure got continued for a few more years. However, it is said that the referendum was backed by fraud and malpractices elections happened in Pakistan, elected representatives also came to power, but the final power to take decisions rested with Musharraf and the military. So would you call Pakistan under Musharraf, a democracy? No, because even though elections took place in Pakistan, but the elected representatives did not have the power, because the power still rested with Russia and the military. So therefore, this is not an ideal example of democracy. In a democracy, the final decision making power must lie with the elected representatives who have been elected by the people of the country.

Feature number two

free and fair election that offered a fair choice to people to change their current rulers. Let's talk about China. In China elections happen every five years to elect the parliament, and the parliament appoints the president. The Parliament has more than 3000 members, some of which are elected by the army. Anyone who wants to contest in elections need to get an approval from the Chinese Communist Party. Also, he either needs to be a member of the Communist Party or an alliance party. Now, do you think this is an example of democracy? No, because in this case, people do not have choices at all. So there are no other choice than the Chinese Communist Party, because anybody who is contesting election is either a member of that party or is being getting approval from that party. So in any case, every time the same party, the ruling party would win, so therefore, this is not an example of democracy. Let's now talk about Mexico. In Mexico elections take place every six years to elect the president. until the year 2000. every election was won by a party called pri. Now, that's a little strange that a single party won't election year after year. So how could that happen? It could be either because the party was performing extraordinarily well, or there's something wrong behind it. Now this party pry spent a huge amount of money in election campaign, media discussed only about pry, and always criticized other political parties. Not only that, the government officials in Mexico attended the party meetings, and in fact, the government employees forced other people to vote for pry, for example, the government school teachers often forced parents to vote for pry. So because of all these malpractices and unfair means, it always ended up that pry won elections in spite of the presence of other political parties in the country. So do you think this is democracy? No, because in this case, even though people have choices because there are multiple political parties, but still due to unfair election, the other parties could never win. In a democracy, it is important that elections do not happen just for the sake of it. Elections should be conducted in a free and fair way. At the same time election should offer some real choices for people to choose from.

Feature number three

Each individual has one vote, and each vote has the same value. In a democracy, it is important that every adult citizen has the right to vote, and every vote should have the same value irrespective of any parameter. Let's talk about Saudi Arabia until 2005 women in Saudi Arabia did not have the right to vote. If you're talking about Fiji, in Fiji, the indigenous Fiji who naturally originated from Fiji, they are both have more value when compared to the Indian origin Fiji. So do you think these are examples of democracy? No, because in a democracy, irrespective of the country of origin, irrespective of the gender, every citizen of the country should have the right to vote, and every vote should have the same value.

Feature number four

government must rule within limits set by the Constitution. Does it mean that a ruler elected by the people can do whatever he or she wants? Absolutely not. The government must follow certain rules which have been put into place by the Constitution. The government just cannot do anything just because they want the elections. So they need to follow certain rules like they need to protect the rights of the citizens of the country. They need to respect the presence of opposition parties. They also need to respect the promises that they made before the election and execute them post election when all these limitations are put by the Constitution. The Constitution also ensures that everybody is equal before the law and that is why an independent and powerful judiciary system has been put into place. Even if the government does something which is not correct or which is illegal or unfair. The judiciary can take an action against the government. Why is setting limits is important, and the ruling party or the party in power might misuse its power. Let's talk about Zimbabwe. Since its independence in 1980, a single party ruled in Zimbabwe, President Mugabe ruled the country. See how Mugabe misused his power. He changed the constitution to increase the powers of the president. He declared public protests illegal. All independent journalists who wrote against the president were tortured and punished. He controlled the TV and media so that they all published what the President wanted. The judges of the courts were even pressurized to get desired judgments out of them. Mugabe was finally forced out of his office in 2017. So this is an example where we see that it is important to put certain limitations on the government so that they do not end up misusing their power. So we see that democracy has some very important features, which actually define the presence of democracy in any government or in any country.

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