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Essay Titles On Democracy

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essay titles on democracy

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Democracy (From Ancient Greek: δημοκρατία, romanized: dēmokratía, dēmos 'people' and kratos 'rule'[1]) is a form of government in which the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choose governing officials to do so ("representative democracy"). Who is considered part of "the people" and how authority is shared among or delegated by the people has changed over time and at different rates in different countries. Features of democracy often include freedom of assembly, association, property rights, freedom of religion and speech, inclusiveness and equality, citizenship, consent of the governed, voting rights, freedom from unwarranted governmental deprivation of the right to life and liberty, and minority rights.

The notion of democracy has evolved over time considerably. Throughout history, one can find evidence of direct democracy, in which communities make decisions through popular assembly. Today, the dominant form of democracy is representative democracy, where citizens elect government officials to govern on their behalf such as in a parliamentary or presidential democracy.[2]

Although democracy is generally understood to be defined by voting,[1][6] no consensus exists on a precise definition of democracy.[13] Karl Popper says that the "classical" view of democracy is simply,[14] "in brief, the theory that democracy is the rule of the people, and that the people have a right to rule." Kofi Annan states that "there are as many different forms of democracy as there are democratic nations in the world."[15] One study identified 2,234 adjectives used to describe democracy in the English language.[16]

Democratic principles are reflected in all eligible citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to legislative processes.[17] For example, in a representative democracy, every vote has equal weight, no unreasonable restrictions can apply to anyone seeking to become a representative,[according to whom?] and the freedom of its eligible citizens is secured by legitimised rights and liberties which are typically protected by a constitution.[18][19] Other uses of "democracy" include that of direct democracy, in which issues are directly voted on by the constituents.

One theory holds that democracy requires three fundamental principles: upward control (sovereignty residing at the lowest levels of authority), political equality, and social norms by which individuals and institutions only consider acceptable acts that reflect the first two principles of upward control and political equality.[20] Legal equality, political freedom and rule of law[21] are often identified as foundational characteristics for a well-functioning democracy.[13]

The term "democracy" is sometimes used as shorthand for liberal democracy, which is a variant of representative democracy that may include elements such as political pluralism; equality before the law; the right to petition elected officials for redress of grievances; due process; civil liberties; human rights; and elements of civil society outside the government.[citation needed] Roger Scruton argued that democracy alone cannot provide personal and political freedom unless the institutions of civil society are also present.[22]

In some countries, notably in the United Kingdom which originated the Westminster system, the dominant principle is that of parliamentary sovereignty, while maintaining judicial independence.[23][24] In India, parliamentary sovereignty is subject to the Constitution of India which includes judicial review.[25] Though the term "democracy" is typically used in the context of a political state, the principles also are applicable to private organisations.

There are many decision-making methods used in democracies, but majority rule is the dominant form. Without compensation, like legal protections of individual or group rights, political minorities can be oppressed by the "tyranny of the majority". Majority rule is a competitive approach, opposed to consensus democracy, creating the need that elections, and generally deliberation, are substantively and procedurally "fair," i.e. just and equitable. In some countries, freedom of political expression, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and internet democracy are considered important to ensure that voters are well informed, enabling them to vote according to their own interests.[26][27]

It has also been suggested that a basic feature of democracy is the capacity of all voters to participate freely and fully in the life of their society.[28] With its emphasis on notions of social contract and the collective will of all the voters, democracy can also be characterised as a form of political collectivism because it is defined as a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in lawmaking.[29]

Republics, though often associated with democracy because of the shared principle of rule by consent of the governed, are not necessarily democracies, as republicanism does not specify how the people are to rule.[30]Classically the term "republic" encompassed both democracies and aristocracies.[31][32] In a modern sense the republican form of government is a form of government without monarch. Because of this democracies can be republics or constitutional monarchies, such as the United Kingdom.

Democratic assemblies are as old as the human species and are found throughout human history,[34] but up until the nineteenth century, major political figures have largely opposed democracy.[35] Republican theorists linked democracy to small size: as political units grew in size, the likelihood increased that the government would turn despotic.[36][37] At the same time, small political units were vulnerable to conquest.[36] Montesquieu wrote, "If a republic be small, it is destroyed by a foreign force; if it be large, it is ruined by an internal imperfection."[38] According to Johns Hopkins University political scientist Daniel Deudney, the creation of the United States, with its large size and its system of checks and balances, was a solution to the dual problems of size.[36][pages needed]

Athenian democracy took the form of a direct democracy, and it had two distinguishing features: the random selection of ordinary citizens to fill the few existing government administrative and judicial offices,[44] and a legislative assembly consisting of all Athenian citizens.[45] All eligible citizens were allowed to speak and vote in the assembly, which set the laws of the city state. However, Athenian citizenship excluded women, slaves, foreigners (μέτοικοι / métoikoi), and youths below the age of military service.[46][47][contradictory] Effectively, only 1 in 4 residents in Athens qualified as citizens. Owning land was not a requirement for citizenship.[48] The exclusion of large parts of the population from the citizen body is closely related to the ancient understanding of citizenship. In most of antiquity the benefit of citizenship was tied to the obligation to fight war campaigns.[49]

Athenian democracy was not only direct in the sense that decisions were made by the assembled people, but also the most direct in the sense that the people through the assembly, boule and courts of law controlled the entire political process and a large proportion of citizens were involved constantly in the public business.[50] Even though the rights of the individual were not secured by the Athenian constitution in the modern sense (the ancient Greeks had no word for "rights"[51]), those who were citizens of Athens enjoyed their liberties not in opposition to the government but by living in a city that was not subject to another power and by not being subjects themselves to the rule of another person.[52]

Even though the Roman Republic contributed significantly to many aspects of democracy, only a minority of Romans were citizens with votes in elections for representatives. The votes of the powerful were given more weight through a system of weighted voting, so most high officials, including members of the Senate, came from a few wealthy and noble families.[55] In addition, the overthrow of the Roman Kingdom was the first case in the Western world of a polity being formed with the explicit purpose of being a republic, although it didn't have much of a democracy. The Roman model of governance inspired many political thinkers over the centuries,[56] and today's modern representative democracies imitate more the Roman than the Greek models because it was a state in which supreme power was held by the people and their elected representatives, and which had an elected or nominated leader.[citation needed]

Other cultures, such as the Iroquois Nation in the Americas also developed a form of democratic society between 1450 and 1660 (and possibly in 1142[60]), well before contact with the Europeans. This democracy continues to the present day and is the world's oldest standing representative democracy.[61][62] This indicates that forms of democracy may have been invented in other societies around the world.[63]

In Poland, noble democracy was characterized by an increase in the activity of the middle nobility, which wanted to increase their share in exercising power at the expense of the magnates. Magnates dominated the most important offices in the state (secular and ecclesiastical) and sat on the royal council, later the senate. The growing importance of the middle nobility had an impact on the establishment of the institution of the land sejmik (local assembly), which subsequently obtained more rights. During the fifteenth and first half of the sixteenth century, sejmiks received more and more powers and became the most important institutions of local power. In 1454, Casimir IV Jagiellon granted the sejmiks the right to decide on taxes and to convene a mass mobilization in the Nieszawa Statutes. He also pledged not to create new laws without their consent.[76]


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