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Importance of Democracy

In the 21st century, every individual is engaged in a discussion about democracy. Democratic leaders, democratic ideals, democratic government and governance, etc. form a segment of these discussions and debates. One definitely needs to understand the in-depth meaning and implications whenever the term ‘Democracy’ comes to the limelight.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

One way to understand democracy is a democratic government. It is a form of government, which is elected directly or indirectly by the people. Thus the power is vested in the majority selection of the people. Democracy itself is derived from a combination of two Greek words, ‘Demos’ which means People and ‘Kratia’ which means power. Another very important perspective to look at democracy, which is a relatively recent development, is that it is a way of life. The ideals of liberty, equality, justice, fraternity, etc. are upheld in this system.

One significant point, which needs to be taken into account is that the roots of democracy lay in ancient Greece, India and various other classical civilizations.

The classical Greece witnessed one of the finest examples of democratic functioning in the cities. We find scholars like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle writing about democracy during this period. Greek civilization is considered as the civilization where democracy developed and flourished for other civilization to look up to it. The Greek Democracy was a direct democracy where people would assemble and vote on a particular decision.

We find umpteen references of democracy in the ancient period of our own country. In India, we have references in the Vedic sources of Sabha and Samiti, different Mahajanapadas, which were huge territorial republics or oligarchies. We have references in the Buddhist sources, Dharmashatra literature, Kautilya’s Arthashatra, where the importance is given to the people and protection of their rights.

Democracy witnessed a sharp decline during the medieval period across different countries. It started rising through the different revolutions which started taking place from the 16th century like the Glorious Revolution, American Revolution, French Revolution, Russian Revolution, etc.

Now let us understand the different democracies.

The Different Types of Democracies

Direct and Indirect Democracies

The basic understanding of Direct Democracy is that the people directly participate in the proceedings of the government through a different mechanism. As mentioned before, this kind of democracy existed in the Classical Greece. In modern times, Direct Democracy exists in Switzerland in the form of a referendum.

Indirect Democracy is the one where people elect representatives from their constituency who shall participate in the proceedings and functioning of the government.

Presidential and Parliamentary Democracies

It is based on a government, which may be presidential or parliamentary. A Presidential Democratic Government is the one where the president is directly elected upon by the people, and he/she heads the executive branch of the government, which is separate from the legislative branch. The USA is one of the finest examples of the presidential form of government.

In the parliamentary form of the government, the executive is an integral part of the legislature, which holds the supreme position. The Prime Minister here is the Head of the Executive. India and the United Kingdom are examples of the parliamentary form of government.

Bi-Party and Multi- Party system

A political party plays a major role in a democracy as it is the institution, which helps in the formation of the government.

A Bi-Party democratic country is the one where there are only two dominant parties. One forms the government and the other forms the opposition. There are also some other few minor political parties. The Labour and Conservatives in the United Kingdom and the Republicans and Democrats in the USA serve as examples of the Bi-Party system.

A multi-party system is one where there is no cap on the number of parties. There are multiple parties existing together, and each party has the liberty and potential to form the government. Here, we mainly find coalition governments. India is the best example of a multi-party system. Other countries include Germany, Italy, South Africa, Sri Lanka and many others.

Role of independent groups in a democracy

There are also non-state actors like different pressure groups, civil society, organizations, media groups, etc. which play an important role in a democratic country and influence the day-to-day decisions and functioning of the government. The pre-requisites in a democracy include bestowing liberty and rights to the citizens, having a constitution as the highest law of the land, sovereignty, etc.

We can conclude by saying that democracy is a form of government in all the major countries. It is a form of government, which has the spirit of tolerance and acceptance. It ultimately leads to the protection of cultural and economic activities in the country. To know about importance of parliament & parliamentary debates click here.

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