Defining Democracy: Voting Procedures in Decision-Making, Elections and Governance

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  1. What is Democracy?
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  4. Democracy Participation and Elections
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Defining Democracy looks both at the theory of why and the history of how different voting procedures have come to be used - or not, as the case may be - in the three fields of democratic structures: firstly, in … Show full summary decision-making, both in society at large and in the elected chamber; secondly, in elections to and within those chambers; and thirdly, in the various forms of governance, from no-party to multi-party and all-party, which have emerged as a result.

Search by title, author, or keyword. Sort: Relevance Title. Basically, voting serves to legitimate government. To bolster its legitimacy, if required, suffrage can be expanded. This is important when mass support is crucial, for example during wartime. It can be seen in other areas as well. Worker representatives on corporate boards of management serve to coopt dissent; so do student representatives on university councils. Ginsberg shows that elections operate to bring mass political activity into a manageable form: election campaigns and voting.

People learn that they can participate: they are not totally excluded. They also learn the limits of participation. Voting occurs only occasionally, at times fixed by governments. Voting serves only to select leaders, not to directly decide policy. Finally, voting doesn't take passion into account: the vote of the indifferent or ill-informed voter counts just the same as that of the concerned and knowledgeable voter. Voting thus serves to tame political participation, making it a routine process that avoids mass uprisings. The expansion of suffrage helps to reduce the chance that a revolt by an oppressed or excluded group will be seen as justified; with the vote, it is easy for others to claim that they should have used 'orthodox channels.

Ginsberg's most important point is that elections give citizens the impression that the government does or can serve the people. The founding of the modern state a few centuries ago was met with great resistance: people would refuse to pay taxes, to be conscripted or to obey laws passed by national governments. The introduction of voting and the expanded suffrage have greatly aided the expansion of state power. Rather than seeing the system as one of ruler and ruled, people see at least the possibility of using state power to serve themselves.

As electoral participation has increased, the degree of resistance to taxation, military service, and the immense variety of laws regulating behaviour, has been greatly attenuated. The irony in all this, as pointed out by Ginsberg, is that the expansion of state power, legitimated by voting, has now outgrown any control by the participation which made it possible. States are now so large and complex that any expectation of popular control seems remote.

Yet, as he comments, the "idea that electoral participation means popular control of government is so deeply implanted in the psyches of most Americans that even the most overtly skeptical cannot fully free themselves from it" [10]. Needless to say, this statement applies to many countries besides the United States. Using Ginsberg's perspective, the initial government-sponsored introduction of some competition into elections in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe takes on a new meaning.

If the economic restructuring seen as necessary by Communist Party leaders was to have any chance of success, then there had to be greater support for the government. What better way than by introducing some choice into voting? Increased government legitimacy, and hence increased real power for the government, was the aim.

Change in Eastern Europe has gone far past that planned by governments, of course. Still, it is revealing that a key demand of reformers has been to introduce multi-party elections. What is sought is a change in the running of government, not in the basic mechanisms of governance. Although expanding the franchise does help legitimate government, it certainly does not close off political struggle. The introduction of voting and the expansion of suffrage may institutionalise political activity, but they do after all allow the activity.

Elections may reduce the chance of radical challenges to the status quo, but that chance does exist. Electoral politics legitimates government to the extent that governments are to some extent dependent on the will of the people -- however routinised and institutionalised the expression of the people's will may be. Because elections provide a channel for radical change, even though a very constrained channel, the hope of radicals is maintained and their reliance on elections is encouraged.

Ginsberg's analysis leads to the third major limitation of electoral politics: it relies on the state and reinforces state power. Of course, this is simply another facet of the two previous objections, namely that elections don't work to bring about radical change because the state machinery is designed for other interests and that elections disempower the grassroots because energy is channelled into the state.

The basis of an anarchist critique of voting is that voting participates in the legitimation of the state [11]. If the state is part of the problem -- namely being a prime factor in war, genocide, repression, economic inequality, male domination and environmental destruction -- then it is foolish to expect that the problems can be overcome by electing a few new nominal leaders of the state. It is possible to paint a more sophisticated picture of the state, in which there are continual struggles inside and outside the state apparatuses to shape policies and to serve and empower different groups of people.

In this picture, it is worth struggling within the state, for example for welfare measures for the poor or against aggressive military policies [12]. There are few who would object to this. But even with this more sophisticated picture, the fundamental critique of the state can still apply. The basic point concerns whether the organisational structure of the state is neutral or not. If the structure of the state is assumed to be neutral, then the exercise of state power can be seen as the playing out of various power struggles, such as capitalist power versus workers' power or male power versus female power.

If the structure of the state is neutral, then the state can be seen as a site for class struggle, gender struggle, etc. This is typical perspective adopted by Marxists, some feminists and most liberals. It is quite an improvement from the picture of the state as a complete tool of the capitalist class. But it does not question the basic assumption of the neutrality of the state structure, which as a consequence can be captured one way or another, either by the simplistic image of taking state power or by the more sophisticated image of working in and against the state. The basic anarchist insight is that the structure of the state, as a centralised administrative apparatus, is inherently flawed from the point of view of human freedom and equality.

Even though the state can be used occasionally for valuable ends, as a means the state is flawed and impossible to reform. The nonreformable aspects of the state include, centrally, its monopoly over 'legitimate' violence and its consequent power to coerce for the purpose of war, internal control, taxation and the protection of property and bureaucratic privilege. The problem with voting is that the basic premises of the state are never considered open for debate, much less challenge.

The state's monopoly over the use of violence for war is never at issue. Neither is the state's use of violence against revolt from within. The state's right to extract economic resources from the population is never questioned. Neither is the state's guarantee of either private property under capitalism or bureaucratic prerogative under state socialism -- or both. Voting can lead to changes in policies. That is fine and good. But the policies are developed and executed within the state framework, which is a basic constraint. Voting legitimates the state framework.

One response to the limitations of electoral politics is to campaign against voting and elections. This is useful in raising awareness of the limitations of electing one's rulers. But such a critique needs to be supplemented by the promotion of alternatives to the state. That is a harder task. After all, there's no use in criticising electoral methods if there isn't anything better. What participatory alternatives are there to the state and electoral politics?

This is a topic on which there is a large literature, especially by anarchists [13]. So I can do no more than highlight some of the relevant answers and experiences. I will emphasise some of the limitations of the standard responses to this problem, since it is essential to be as critical of alternatives as of the existing system. One set of alternatives is based on direct mass involvement in policy-making through voting, using mechanisms including petition, recall, initiative and referendum.

In short, instead of electing politicians who then make policy decisions, these decisions are made directly by the public. Referendums have been used widely in the United States, often to the consternation of powerful groups. The fluoridation of public water supplies as a measure to reduce tooth decay has resulted in hundreds of referendums, for example.

The more frequent result has been against fluoridation, much to the consternation of proponents, who as a result have counselled against referendums and tried for implementation directly by governments. In practice, referendums have been only supplements to a policy process based on elected representatives. But it is possible to conceive of a vast expansion of the use of referendums, especially by use of computer technology [14]. Some exponents propose a future in which each household television system is hooked up with equipment for direct electronic voting.

The case for and against a referendum proposal would be broadcast, followed by a mass vote. What could be more democratic? Unfortunately there are some serious flaws in such proposals. These go deeper than the problems of media manipulation, involvement by big-spending vested interests, and the worries by experts and elites that the public will be irresponsible in direct voting. A major problem is the setting of the agenda for the referendum. Who decides the questions? Who decides what material is broadcast for and against a particular question? Who decides the wider context of voting?

The fundamental issue concerning setting of the agenda is not simply bias. It is a question of participation. Participation in decision-making means not just voting on predesigned questions, but participation in the formulation of which questions are put to a vote. This is something which is not easy to organise when a million people are involved, even with the latest electronics.

It is a basic limitation of referendums. The key to this limitation of referendums is the presentation of a single choice to a large number of voters. Even when some citizens are involved in developing the question, as in the cases of referendums based on the process of citizen initiative, most people have no chance to be involved in more than a yes-no capacity.

The opportunity to recast the question in the light of discussion is not available. Another problem for referendums is a very old one, fundamental to voting itself. Simply put, rule by the majority often means oppression of the minority. This problem is more clear-cut in direct voting systems, but also appears in representative systems.

Historically, the referendum approach assumes the existence of a bureaucratic apparatus for implementing the decisions made. Referendums don't implement themselves, certainly. Who does? The state. Referendums, in practice, are a way of increasing participation within the parameters of centralised administration.

What is Democracy?

This latter problem is not intrinsic to the referendum as a method. The challenge is to recast the referendum as part of a more participatory political process. Consensus decision-making has become widely used in a number of social movements in the past couple of decades, especially in portions of the anti-nuclear power movement.

In general parlance, 'consensus' means gaining general agreement, but within social movements it has been given a more precise, operational meaning. The basic aim is for a group of generally like-minded people to reach a common decision without greatly alienating anyone. This might be a collective working on a newspaper or a group planning a direct action against a military facility. Voting is avoided for several reasons. Those who lose a close or bitterly contested vote often fail to support the majority position, and sometimes even end up leaving the group. Lots of energy is wasted in lobbying and building factions for the purposes of winning votes rather than developing the best campaign.

Finally, innovative proposals are often ignored because they seem to stand no chance in a vote. The basic procedure in consensus decision-making is that various options are canvassed and discussed. If everyone seems to be agreeing, then a test is made for consensus. If no one disagrees, consensus has been reached. If anyone disagrees, they are encouraged to spell out their objections. Consensus is blocked if there is strong disagreement by even one person or, in modified consensus, by a specified small fraction.

If consensus is blocked, then the group seeks ways to reach agreement. The arguments can be reexamined; new proposals can be raised and discussed; the decision can be postponed until a later time. For example, the group may break itself into a number of small groups which readdress the issue, seeking a resolution. In many cases, the procedure works remarkably well. Those with divergent views generally see that they are taken seriously, and this builds the cohesion of the group. Sometimes a minority view eventually becomes the consensus view: there is no quick vote to overwhelm it.

Most encouraging of all, sometimes brilliant new solutions are developed in the efforts to reach consensus. That consensus methods often work well should come as no surprise, since they have long been used in an unacknowledged manner in all sorts of situations.

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For many organisations, official votes are ritualistic only. A vote is seldom taken unless it is obvious beforehand that everyone agrees, or at least that no one strongly disagrees. The practice of consensus decision-making formalises the process. This is most important as the group gets larger.

For large groups there are various methods involving subgroups and delegates which ensure that the basic consensus approach is followed. An important difference between consensus and normal 'meeting procedure' is the role of leadership. The conventional method has a formal leader the chair and a set of formal rules for setting the agenda, speaking, making motions, voting, etc.

The consensus approach has no formal leader but instead 'facilitators' who are supposed to help the group do what it wants to. The facilitators are crucial to the success of consensus: they are supposed to test for consensus, encourage less articulate group members to participate, offer suggestions for procedure, summarise views expressed, etc.

The ideal is when every group member helps in facilitation, so there is no obvious leader at all. Consensus, then, is a method of decision-making without voting that aims for participation, group cohesion, and openness to new ideas. Combined with other group skills for social analysis, examining group dynamics, developing strategies and evaluation, consensus can be powerful indeed [15].

Yet anyone who has participated in consensus decision-making should be aware that the practice is often far short of the theory. Sometimes powerful personalities dominate the process; less confident people are afraid to express their views. Because objections normally have to be voiced face-to-face, the protection of anonymity in the secret ballot is lost.

Meetings can be interminable, and those who cannot devote the required time to them are effectively disenfranchised. The biggest problem for consensus, though, is irreconcilable conflict of interest. Mansbridge distinguishes between two types of democracy. What she calls adversary democracy is the familiar electoral approach. It is based on the assumption of conflicting interests, majority rule, secret ballot and equal protection of interests. What she calls unitary democracy is like friendship.

It is based on a high degree of common interest, consensus-like methods, face-to-face decision-making and a rough equality of mutual respect. Mansbridge closely analyses two cases in detail: a New England town meeting which formally uses voting but in practice often seeks consensus, and a work collective which uses formal consensus methods. Mansbridge points out that the standard approach is to assume conflicting interests and to use adversarial methods, but that unitary interests are much more common than generally realised.

Hence seeking unity, rather than assuming conflict, is often preferable. Her most important point though, for my purposes here, is that consensus has a complementary weakness: it can't handle deep-seated conflict. Much of such conflict is based in inequality of power. To imagine employers and workers in a typical enterprise trying to reach consensus is difficult. They don't have common interests or, very often, equality of respect. In a self-managed enterprise, by contrast, there are no separate employers and consensus becomes more feasible. Other types of conflict are just as difficult to deal with.

Imagine a group of anarchists, Marxists and liberals with a few conservatives tossed in for good measure trying to reach consensus on a campaign for reducing crime. Even with the best will in the world, the different perspectives on the world are likely to undermine attempts at consensus on more than the most superficial level. The larger the group, the more likely there are to be fundamental conflicts of interests.

Consensus is most likely to work in small self-selected groups. But as a democratic alternative to elections it has severe limitations dealing with large groups. The problems of consensus are also the problems of self-management in large groups [17]. One solution to this dilemma is to keep group sizes small. Rather than centralisation of power, decentralisation is the aim.

There is no intrinsic reason why education, health, investment and many other functions have to be administered at the level of many millions of people rather than, say, thousands or tens of thousands. Many of the most participatory polities, from ancient Greece to today, have been relatively small. Conversely, many of the ills of electoral politics seem associated with the enormous population in many countries [18].

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Small size reduces the severity of many of the problems of decision-making. Even voting is not so limiting when the number of voters is so small that everyone is potentially known to everyone else. The use of consensus can be maximised. Furthermore, small size opens the possibility of a plurality of political systems.

Frances Kendall and Leon Louw propose a Swiss-like federation of autonomous political entities, each of which can choose its own political and economic system [19]. With Kendall and Louw's system, the difficulties of trying new methods, and the costs of failures, are greatly reduced. Small size may make governance easier, but there will still be some large-scale problems requiring solution. Global pollution and local disasters, for example, call for more than local solutions.

How are decisions to be made about such issues? More fundamentally, small size by itself doesn't solve the issue of how decisions are made. There can still be deep conflicts of interests which make consensus inappropriate, and there can still be problems of domination resulting from electoral methods. Finally, in all but the very tiniest groups, the basic problem of limits to participation remains.

Not everyone has time to become fully knowledgeable about every issue. Consensus assumes that everyone can and should participate in decisions; if substantial numbers drop out, it becomes rule by the energetic, or by those who have nothing better to do. Representative democracy, by contrast, puts elected representatives in the key decision-making roles; the participation of everyone else is restricted to campaigning, voting and lobbying. In both cases participation is very unequal, not by choice but by the structure of the decision-making system.

A favourite anarchist solution to the problem of coordination and participation is delegates and federations. A delegate differs from a representative in that the delegate is more closely tied to the electorate: the delegate can be recalled at any time, especially when not following the dictates of the electors.

Federations are a way of combining self-governing entities. The member bodies in the federation retain the major decision-making power over their own affairs. The members come together to decide issues affecting all of them. In a 'weak federation,' the centre has only advisory functions; in a 'strong federation,' the centre has considerable executive power in specified areas.

By having several tiers in the federation, full participation can be ensured at the bottom level and consultation and some decision making occurs at the highest levels. Delegates and federations sound like an alternative to conventional electoral systems, but there are strong similarities. Delegates are normally elected, and this leads to the familiar problems of representation. Certain individuals dominate. Participation in decision-making is unequal, with the delegates being heavily involved and others not. To the degree that decisions are actually made at higher levels, there is great potential for development of factions, vote trading and manipulation of the electorate.

This is where the delegate system is supposed to be different: if the delegates start to serve themselves rather than those they represent, they can be recalled. But in practice this is hard to achieve. Delegates tend to 'harden' into formal representatives. Those chosen as delegates are likely to have much more experience and knowledge than the ordinary person.

Once chosen, the delegates gain even more experience and knowledge, which can be presented as of high value to the electors. In other words, recalling the delegate will be at the cost of losing an experienced and influential person. These problems have surfaced in the German Green Party. Although formally elected as representatives, the party sought to treat those elected as delegates, setting strict limits on the length of time in parliament.

This was resisted by some of those elected, who were able to build support due to their wide appeal. Furthermore, from a pragmatic point of view which is often hard to resist , those who had served in parliament had the experience and public profile to better promote the green cause. Thus the delegate approach came under great stress even though the green politicians had little real power. In a situation when the delegates are truly making decisions, the stresses will be much greater.

The fundamental problem with the delegate system, then, is unequal participation. Not everyone can be involved in every issue. With delegates, the problem is resolved by having the delegates involved much more in decision-making, at the expense of others. This unequal participation then reproduces and entrenches itself. The more layers there are to the federation, the more serious this problem will be. Federations, as well, are not a magical solution to the problem of coordination in a self-managing society. In this brief survey of some of the more well-known participative alternatives to elections, I've focussed on their limitations.

But these and other methods do have many strengths, and are worth promoting as additions or alternatives to the present system. The theory of aggregative democracy claims that the aim of the democratic processes is to solicit citizens' preferences and aggregate them together to determine what social policies society should adopt. Therefore, proponents of this view hold that democratic participation should primarily focus on voting , where the policy with the most votes gets implemented.

Different variants of aggregative democracy exist.


Under minimalism , democracy is a system of government in which citizens have given teams of political leaders the right to rule in periodic elections. According to this minimalist conception, citizens cannot and should not "rule" because, for example, on most issues, most of the time, they have no clear views or their views are not well-founded. Joseph Schumpeter articulated this view most famously in his book Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy.

Riker , Adam Przeworski , Richard Posner. According to the theory of direct democracy , on the other hand, citizens should vote directly, not through their representatives, on legislative proposals. Proponents of direct democracy offer varied reasons to support this view. Political activity can be valuable in itself, it socialises and educates citizens, and popular participation can check powerful elites.

Most importantly, citizens do not really rule themselves unless they directly decide laws and policies. Governments will tend to produce laws and policies that are close to the views of the median voter—with half to their left and the other half to their right. This is not actually a desirable outcome as it represents the action of self-interested and somewhat unaccountable political elites competing for votes. Anthony Downs suggests that ideological political parties are necessary to act as a mediating broker between individual and governments. Downs laid out this view in his book An Economic Theory of Democracy.

Robert A. He uses the term polyarchy to refer to societies in which there exists a certain set of institutions and procedures which are perceived as leading to such democracy. First and foremost among these institutions is the regular occurrence of free and open elections which are used to select representatives who then manage all or most of the public policy of the society. However, these polyarchic procedures may not create a full democracy if, for example, poverty prevents political participation.

Deliberative democracy is based on the notion that democracy is government by deliberation. Unlike aggregative democracy, deliberative democracy holds that, for a democratic decision to be legitimate, it must be preceded by authentic deliberation, not merely the aggregation of preferences that occurs in voting. Authentic deliberation is deliberation among decision-makers that is free from distortions of unequal political power, such as power a decision-maker obtained through economic wealth or the support of interest groups. Radical democracy is based on the idea that there are hierarchical and oppressive power relations that exist in society.

Democracy's role is to make visible and challenge those relations by allowing for difference, dissent and antagonisms in decision making processes. Some economists have criticized the efficiency of democracy, citing the premise of the irrational voter, or a voter who makes decisions without all of the facts or necessary information in order to make a truly informed decision. Another argument is that democracy slows down processes because of the amount of input and participation needed in order to go forward with a decision.

A common example often quoted to substantiate this point is the high economic development achieved by China a non-democratic country as compared to India a democratic country. According to economists, the lack of democratic participation in countries like China allows for unfettered economic growth. On the other hand, Socrates was of the belief that democracy without educated masses educated in the more broader sense of being knowledgeable and responsible would only lead to populism being the criteria to become an elected leader, and not competence.

This would ultimately lead to a demise of the nation. The 20th-century Italian thinkers Vilfredo Pareto and Gaetano Mosca independently argued that democracy was illusory, and served only to mask the reality of elite rule. Indeed, they argued that elite oligarchy is the unbendable law of human nature, due largely to the apathy and division of the masses as opposed to the drive, initiative and unity of the elites , and that democratic institutions would do no more than shift the exercise of power from oppression to manipulation.

British writer Ivo Mosley , grandson of blackshirt Oswald Mosley describes in In the Name of the People: Pseudo-Democracy and the Spoiling of Our World , how and why current forms of electoral governance are destined to fall short of their promise. Plato 's The Republic presents a critical view of democracy through the narration of Socrates : "Democracy, which is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequaled alike.

Assuming that the Republic was intended to be a serious critique of the political thought in Athens, Plato argues that only Kallipolis, an aristocracy led by the unwilling philosopher-kings the wisest men , is a just form of government. James Madison critiqued direct democracy which he referred to simply as "democracy" in Federalist No. More recently, democracy is criticised for not offering enough political stability. As governments are frequently elected on and off there tends to be frequent changes in the policies of democratic countries both domestically and internationally.

Even if a political party maintains power, vociferous, headline grabbing protests and harsh criticism from the popular media are often enough to force sudden, unexpected political change. Frequent policy changes with regard to business and immigration are likely to deter investment and so hinder economic growth. For this reason, many people have put forward the idea that democracy is undesirable for a developing country in which economic growth and the reduction of poverty are top priorities.

This opportunist alliance not only has the handicap of having to cater to too many ideologically opposing factions, but it is usually short lived since any perceived or actual imbalance in the treatment of coalition partners, or changes to leadership in the coalition partners themselves, can very easily result in the coalition partner withdrawing its support from the government. Biased media has been accused of causing political instability, resulting in the obstruction of democracy, rather than its promotion. In representative democracies, it may not benefit incumbents to conduct fair elections.

A study showed that incumbents who rig elections stay in office 2. Sub-Saharan countries, as well as Afghanistan, all tend to fall into that category. Governments that have frequent elections tend to have significantly more stable economic policies than those governments who have infrequent elections. However, this trend does not apply to governments where fraudulent elections are common.

Democracy in modern times has almost always faced opposition from the previously existing government, and many times it has faced opposition from social elites. The implementation of a democratic government within a non-democratic state is typically brought about by democratic revolution. Post-Enlightenment ideologies such as fascism , nazism , communism and neo-fundamentalism oppose democracy on different grounds, generally citing that the concept of democracy as a constant process is flawed and detrimental to a preferable course of development.

Several philosophers and researchers have outlined historical and social factors seen as supporting the evolution of democracy. Other commentators have mentioned the influence of economic development. Douglas M. Gibler and Andrew Owsiak in their study argued about the importance of peace and stable borders for the development of democracy. It has often been assumed that democracy causes peace , but this study shows that, historically, peace has almost always predated the establishment of democracy. Carroll Quigley concludes that the characteristics of weapons are the main predictor of democracy: [] [] Democracy—this scenario—tends to emerge only when the best weapons available are easy for individuals to obtain and use.

Governments couldn't do any better: it became the age of mass armies of citizen soldiers with guns. Other theories stressed the relevance of education and of human capital —and within them of cognitive ability to increasing tolerance, rationality, political literacy and participation. Two effects of education and cognitive ability are distinguished: [] [ need quotation to verify ] [] []. Evidence consistent with conventional theories of why democracy emerges and is sustained has been hard to come by. Statistical analyses have challenged modernisation theory by demonstrating that there is no reliable evidence for the claim that democracy is more likely to emerge when countries become wealthier, more educated, or less unequal.

An example of this is the disease environment. Places with different mortality rates had different populations and productivity levels around the world. For example, in Africa, the tsetse fly —which afflicts humans and livestock—reduced the ability of Africans to plow the land. This made Africa less settled. As a consequence, political power was less concentrated.

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This also affected the distribution of power and the collective actions people could take. As a result, some African countries ended up having democracies and others autocracies. An example of geographical determinants for democracy is having access to coastal areas and rivers. This natural endowment has a positive relation with economic development thanks to the benefits of trade. Rulers wanting to increase revenues had to protect property-rights to create incentives for people to invest.

As more people had more power, more concessions had to be made by the ruler and in many [ quantify ] places this process lead to democracy. These determinants defined the structure of the society moving the balance of political power. In the 21st century, democracy has become such a popular method of reaching decisions that its application beyond politics to other areas such as entertainment, food and fashion, consumerism, urban planning, education, art, literature, science and theology has been criticised as "the reigning dogma of our time".

In education, the argument is that essential but more difficult studies are not undertaken. Science, as a truth -based discipline, is particularly corrupted by the idea that the correct conclusion can be arrived at by popular vote. However, more recently, theorists [ which? Robert Michels asserts that although democracy can never be fully realised, democracy may be developed automatically in the act of striving for democracy:. The peasant in the fable, when on his death-bed, tells his sons that a treasure is buried in the field. After the old man's death the sons dig everywhere in order to discover the treasure.

They do not find it. But their indefatigable labor improves the soil and secures for them a comparative well-being. The treasure in the fable may well symbolise democracy. Harald Wydra , in his book Communism and The Emergence of Democracy , maintains that the development of democracy should not be viewed as a purely procedural or as a static concept but rather as an ongoing "process of meaning formation". Democratic political figures are not supreme rulers but rather temporary guardians of an empty place. Any claim to substance such as the collective good , the public interest or the will of the nation is subject to the competitive struggle and times of for [ clarification needed ] gaining the authority of office and government.

The essence of the democratic system is an empty place, void of real people, which can only be temporarily filled and never be appropriated. The seat of power is there, but remains open to constant change. As such, people's definitions of "democracy" or of "democratic" progress throughout history as a continual and potentially never ending process of social construction. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This is the latest accepted revision , reviewed on 28 June For a democracy that protects the rights of individuals, see Liberal democracy.

Democracy Participation and Elections

For other uses, see Democracy disambiguation and Democrat disambiguation. Primary topics. Index of politics articles Politics by country Politics by subdivision Political economy Political history Political history of the world Political philosophy. Political systems. Academic disciplines. Political science political scientists. International relations theory. Public administration. Bureaucracy street-level Adhocracy. Public policy doctrine Domestic and foreign policy Civil society Public interest. Organs of government.

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Most democratic closest to Least democratic closest to 0. Main article: History of democracy. See also: Athenian democracy. Main article: Types of democracy. World's states coloured by form of government 1. Main article: Direct democracy. Main article: Representative democracy. Main article: Parliamentary system. Main article: Presidential system. See also: Politics of Switzerland and Voting in Switzerland.

Main article: Constitutional monarchy. Main article: Republicanism. Main article: Liberal democracy. See also: Democracy in Marxism. Main article: Sortition. Main article: Consociational democracy. Main article: Consensus democracy. Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co. Dagenhart History of youth rights in the United States Morse v. Adam Fletcher activist David J. Males Neil Postman Sonia Yaco. Main article: Inclusive democracy. Main article: Participatory politics. Main article: Cosmopolitan democracy. Main article: Creative democracy. Main article: Guided democracy.

Main article: Criticism of democracy. Main article: Anti-democratic thought. Main article: Democratization. Politics portal. William Benton. Retrieved 5 July Google Books. Democracy and the Market. Cambridge University Press. In Diamond, L. London: Routledge. Politics and Governance. Encyclopedia of ancient Greece. New York: Routledge. The Political Thought of Plato and Aristotle. Putnam's Sons. Retrieved 17 February The Economist. Economist Group. The democracy sourcebook. Public space and democracy.

Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Scandinavian Political Studies. Full text. BBC News. UK Parliament. Retrieved 18 August ; "Independence". Courts and Tribunals Judiciary. Retrieved 9 November The New Indian Express. Express Publications Madurai Limited.

Retrieved 18 August Women and human development: the capabilities approach. II, ch. The end of kings: a history of republics and republicans 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Online Etymology Dictionary. Martin, Barbara H. Rosenwein, and Bonnie G.

Martin's, , Uchitel' Publishing House. Retrieved 1 March Retrieved 28 September Retrieved 22 August The Hindu. Chennai, India. The British Library. Retrieved 28 January Magna Carta is sometimes regarded as the foundation of democracy in England. Revised versions of Magna Carta were issued by King Henry III in , and , and the text of the version was entered onto the statute roll in The version of Magna Carta had been granted explicitly in return for a payment of tax by the whole kingdom, and this paved the way for the first summons of Parliament in , to approve the granting of taxation.

The National Archives. Retrieved 17 November The Telegraph. The Society of Antiquaries of London. Retrieved 16 October Retrieved 7 April Retrieved 22 December British Library. Retrieved 27 November The key landmark is the Bill of Rights , which established the supremacy of Parliament over the Crown Department of State. Archived from the original on 24 October Retrieved 30 October The earliest, and perhaps greatest, victory for liberalism was achieved in England.

The rising commercial class that had supported the Tudor monarchy in the 16th century led the revolutionary battle in the 17th, and succeeded in establishing the supremacy of Parliament and, eventually, of the House of Commons. What emerged as the distinctive feature of modern constitutionalism was not the insistence on the idea that the king is subject to law although this concept is an essential attribute of all constitutionalism.

This notion was already well established in the Middle Ages. What was distinctive was the establishment of effective means of political control whereby the rule of law might be enforced. Modern constitutionalism was born with the political requirement that representative government depended upon the consent of citizen subjects However, as can be seen through provisions in the Bill of Rights, the English Revolution was fought not just to protect the rights of property in the narrow sense but to establish those liberties which liberals believed essential to human dignity and moral worth.

The "rights of man" enumerated in the English Bill of Rights gradually were proclaimed beyond the boundaries of England, notably in the American Declaration of Independence of and in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man in Democracy in America. The ungovernable rock: a history of the Anglo-Corsican Kingdom and its role in Britain's Mediterranean strategy during the Revolutionary War, — London: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. Colonial Williamsburg. Spring Retrieved 21 April Michael The Historical Foundations of World Order. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.

Online Exhibit: The Charters of Freedom. National Archives. Archived from the original on 6 July London and New York: Routledge. Archived from the original on 27 August Culture in the Age of Three Worlds.