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An overview on Democratic- Democracy

The concept of democracy is exciting. The increase in the number of States ascribed to democratic practice has meant a new life for many who now live free from political oppression or authoritarian rules. It’s a complex term for many, especially those in newer democracies. It takes time to understand its practical meaning. There is a lot of information about democracy. It is the duty of educators to clarify this information in terms suitable for learners. The concept of democracy carries a very special challenge, as it incorporates aspects of behavior, skills, knowledge and attitudes, as well as questions about politics or power.

The way each educator acts and teaches will influence what people understand by democracy. As a result, there is considerable debate in the literature regarding the methodology for educating about democracy, in which interaction, participation, and individual contributions to debate and discovery of meaning are valued.

There is basic information that provides a good basis for developing an understanding and appreciation of democracy.

Defining democracy

The concept of democracy is complex and controversial. As a consequence, there will always be differences of opinion, despite considerable convergence on a basic definition. Most definitions of democracy focus on qualities, procedures, and institutions. As there are many expressions of democracy around the world, educators would be wise to avoid assuming that specific practices and procedures should be universally promoted and adopted. Each person’s own understanding, experience and beliefs, and the history of their country must be incorporated to create a definition that is meaningful and practical for their daily lives.

Democracy does not consist of a single set of institutions whose application is universal. The specific form that democracy takes in a country is largely determined by the prevailing political, social, and economic circumstances, and is strongly influenced by historical, traditional, and cultural factors.

Most readings on democracy begin by identifying where the word comes from and where the first practice of democracy was recorded and formalized. They also provide definitions of democracy that have been used over time. Then there are any number of definitions, from the simplest to the most complex, that can be used to supplement those that people would have formulated in a discussion.

The dawn of democracy

The word democracy was coined by the ancient Greeks who established a form of direct government in Athens. All the adult males met to discuss issues and voted by a show of hands. Slaves and women did not have the right to vote. This form of government is very time consuming and it is impossible for large populations to meet every time a decision needs to be made.

Therefore, the move from direct democracy (where people vote directly on every issue) to representative democracy (where people vote for representatives or politicians to make decisions on their behalf) was inevitable as democratically established societies were larger and more diverse. 7 Today there are forms of direct democracy such as referendums, petitions, plebiscites, and proposals, but they are practiced more frequently in democracies with more experience and technological resources.

Democracy today

Democracy exists to provide a way of living and being together in a way that is beneficial to all people. Although it is possible that many of today’s democracies did not exist before World War II, there is precedent in most traditional societies for a form of government where the ideals in which the majority of people believed guided the rulers and the communities in question. the way decisions and rules were made, and the way members of society were treated and lived together.

The assertion that democracy is a concept foreign to the African continent is based on the confusion between democratic principles and their institutional manifestations. The former include broad participation, the consent of the governed, and public accountability of those in power, which have transcended traditional political systems in Africa. 

The political transition to a democratic state and the necessary restructuring, such as voting and elections, the constitution, and an independent judiciary, can be overwhelming for new citizens. For this reason, focusing on people’s own experience is a useful means of developing a practical and basic understanding of democracy.

Educators who work with citizens on issues related to democracy should encourage them to express their opinions regarding the values ​​that already exist in their community for the daily interaction of those who integrate it. From the above, the educator himself will be able to arrive at a set of democratic aspirations and values ​​tailored to each society, which in turn will form a useful base from which to explore the form of government that exists in a country. determined and the extent to which it can be defined as democratic.


types of democracy

representative democracy

Every person has the right to form part of the government of his country, either directly or through freely chosen representatives. The will of the people must be the basis of the government’s authority, expressed through the holding of periodic and genuine elections, under the scheme of equal, universal, free and secret voting.

Voting is one of the mechanisms that guides democratic states and keeps their leaders on course, as well as letting them know what their performance has been. During the elections, the citizens vote for the candidate of his choice, who when he wins becomes not only a representative of the “people” but also the ruler of the country for a certain period of time from his position. Said election is made according to the constituency or proportional representation system, or a combination of both.

Civic educators in a particular country may decide to emphasize and further illustrate the type of democratic representation they have chosen. Additionally, they may want to explain the differences between the possible systems, their benefits and their costs.

constitutional democracies

Most, but not all, democracies are based on a written constitution or supreme law that serves to guide legislators and the laws they make. Written constitutions serve as guarantees to citizens of the government’s obligation to act in a certain way and uphold certain rights.

The strength of a real democracy depends on certain rights and freedoms. These rights and freedoms must be protected to ensure that democracy is a success. In many countries, it is in the constitution that the protection of these rights is guaranteed. Similarly, it establishes the structures and functions of the government and provides guidance for the preparation of other laws. It is normally protected from amendment at the whim of a particular government by requiring a special majority of legislators, or consultation of the electorate via a referendum, before any clause can be changed.

Minimum requirements for a country to be defined as democratic

With the increasing number of governments holding free and fair elections and declaring themselves democratic states, some theorists have developed a set of minimum requirements, since elections by themselves do not produce a democratic country. These requirements provide an overview of what democracy is and a standard against which to check whether a country is democratic or not. The following list of minimum requirements is the product of the comparative study of democracies and the reading of various theories of democracy.

  • control over government decisions about policy constitutionally mandated to elected representatives
  • elected representatives are chosen in regular and free elections
  • elected representatives exercise their constitutional powers without being overridden by unelected officials
  • all adults have the right to hold public office
  • citizens have the right to express themselves on political issues, in general terms, without risk of penalization by the State
  • citizens have the right to seek alternative sources of information, such as the news media, and those sources are protected by law
  • citizens have the right to form independent associations and organizations, including independent political parties and interest groups
  • the government is autonomous and capable of acting independently independently and without external constraints (such as those imposed by alliances and blocs)

If any of the above conditions are not met, experts argue that the country is not a true democracy.

criticism of the government

Educating citizens about the democracy in which they live means that educators will provide them with tools to analyze their circumstances. In some cases, this could lead to strong criticism of the government, the powers it has, the way it works, and whether or not it appears to deliver on the promises made at the time of the election. Educators should be prepared to deal with this criticism constructively, so that citizens also learn how to deal with their criticism democratically and peacefully.

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