Importantly, democracy serves to improve the quality of life, because fundamentally it is seen as a form of governance by the people and for the people. This is often implemented through elected representatives, which therefore requires free, transparent, and fair elections, in order to achieve legitimacy.
However, even in established democracies, there are pressures that threaten various democratic foundations. A democratic system’s openness also allows it to attract those with vested interests to use the democratic process as a means to attain power and influence, even if they do not hold democratic principles dear.
The Ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, is considered one of the most important founders of what is now described as Western philosophy. In his work,” Politics”, he offered some comparisons with other forms of government and rule.
Of course, the earlier forms of democracy were not close to what we consider as democracy today, but were often important precursors or “proto-democracies” that laid down important foundations and principles.
The Universality of Democracy
Democracy is often described as one of the greatest gifts the West has given to the world. It certainly is one of the greatest gifts to humanity. But is it a “Western” or more universal principle?
Now democracy perhaps is trying to be more universal than acknowledged and that there is a lot of propaganda in how history is told, sometimes highlighting differences amongst people more than the similarities and cross-fertilization of ideas that also features prominently in history.
As English novelist and journalist George Orwell (1903-1950) noted, the word democracy can often be overloaded. / “In the case of a word like “democracy”, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.”— George Orwell/.
On the one hand then, there has never been as much democracy as present. And yet, many countries suffer from poor representations, election anomalies and corruption, “pseudo democracy”, etc.
Pillars of a Functioning Democracy
In a democratic government key principles include free and open elections, the rule of law, and a separation of powers, typically into the following:
· Legislature (law-making)
· Executive (actually governing within those laws)
· Judiciary (system of courts to administer justice)
It is felt that separating these powers will prevent tyrannical rule (authoritarianism, etc). Critics of this may argue that this leads to extra bureaucracy and thus inefficient execution of policy.
Not all countries have or need such a complete separation and many have some level of overlap. Some governments such as, for example, US have a clear separation of powers while in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, a parliamentary system somewhat merges the legislature and executive.
Some people talk of the difference between a minimalist government and direct democracy, whereby a smaller government run by experts in their field may be better than involving all people in all issues at all time. In a sense this may be true, but the risk with this approach is if it is seen to exclude people, then such governments may lose legitimacy in the eyes of the electorate. Direct democracy, on the other hand, may encourage activism and participation, but the concern is if this can be sustained for a long period of time, or not. (There are many other variations, which all have similar or related problems; how to handle efficiency, participation, informed decision making and accountability, etc. Different people use different terms such as deliberative democracy, radical democracy, etc.).
Challenges of Democracy
The definition of democracy as a government by people is a theoretical concept rather than reality. But there are several challenges or problems in achieving these ideal and objectives of the government. These include:
· Human Rights secure
· Civil Society
Why do people vote?
Basically, it is considered that in democratic countries people affect their political rights towards the representatives who they elect, which means that democracy is the will of majority.
It is very important to understand the psychology of voters. One of the fundamental issues of voting system is the voters’ phycology and rational ignorance. The mentality, “because my vote will not affect the election outcome”, I have little incentive to become informed.
· My vote will not change the outcome of the election
· I have one vote out of the thousands
· Taken together all the votes decide the election, but no one vote is decisive
Vote as if your vote shall change the outcome of the election.
On the one hand, vote as an act of expression, because you now that your vote will change the outcome of the election. But, on the other hand, does it cost anything to express one’s opinion in politics, when you are a minority?
When you vote against, not for. You vote for the candidate that is not your favorite, because you don’t want the other candidate to win the elections. So you’d rather vote against Your not favorite one, than for your favorite one.
Human Rights Secure
Does democracy improve the quality of life for the citizens?
Here we will mention on two fundamental questions on the basis of research:
· What people think “democracy” is?
· What Government thinks “democracy” is?
Society thinks that the obligation of democratic government is to provide citizens with political, social-economic and cultural rights’ protection and life security (quality of life). While Government thinks that it is empowered to rule people by the will of majority.
If examining the relationships of Democracy and Human Rights, we conclude that they can’t be separate concepts, because of the interrelation and interdependence of each other. In democratic countries human rights are fail concept.
Another pillar of functioning democracy is civil society, the role of which in democratic achievements is fundamental. If defining civil society as a group of people that are legally aware of their rights and fundamental freedoms, it effects on the results of public choice. The level of legal awareness reflects on social quality. The development of every country depends on the rising level of legal conscious for every member of the society.
· As more you are aware of your rights, as less it is possible to violate them.
· As more you are aware of your rights, as more you are tolerant and responsible to others.
Author Hripsime Asatryan