- 1 Democracy
- 2 Broader definition for Democracy
- 3 Features of Democracy
- 4 Terminology
- 5 Transperhere Two Tales of Democracy
- 6 Restoration of Democracy in Chile
- 7 Political Freedom was Restored in Chile
- 8 Poland
- 9 Common Features between the Poland and Chile
- 10 Democracy
- 11 Justifications against Democracy
- 12 Justification for Democracy
- 13 End of Colonialism
- 14 Democracy at the Global Level
- 15 Are These Institutions Democratic?
- 16 Democracy Promotion
|Democracy is a form of government which is chosen by the people to work for their welfare and can be voted out by them.|
Broader definition for Democracy
- It gives us a clear but minimal understanding of democracy and helps us to distinguish democracies from non- democracies.
- In a democracy every citizen must be able to play an equal role in decision making.
- A democratic decision involves consultation with and consent of all those who are affected by that decision.
- This can apply to a government or a family or any other organisation. Thus, democracy is also a principle that can be applied to any sphere of life.
- In the countries which we call as democracy, all the people do not rule. A majority is allowed to take decisions on behalf of all the people. Even the majority does not rule directly. The majority of people rule through their elected representatives.
This becomes necessary because :
- Even if they could, all the citizens do not have the time, the desire or the skills to take part in all the decisions.
- Modern democracies involve such a large number of people that it is physically impossible for all of them to sit together and take a collective decision.
Features of Democracy
Transperhere Two Tales of Democracy
(i) Chile Salvador Allende was the President of Chile, a country in South America.
(ii) He was the founder leader of the socialist Party of Chile. He led the popular unity coalition to victory in the presidential election in 1970.
(iii) Allende was opposed to foreign companies taking away natural resources like copper from the country.
(iv) He had taken several policy decisions to help the poor and the workers.
(v) The landlords, the rich and the Church opposed his policies.
(vi) Some political parties in Chile also opposed his government.
Military Coup of 1973
(i) On the morning of 11th September, 1973, the military took over the Seaport.
(ii) The Defence Minister was arrested by the military when he arrived at his office.
(iii) The military commanders asked the President to resign but Allende refused to resign or leave the country.
(iv) The military surrounded the President’s house and started bombing it, President Allende died in the military attack.
(v) A government elected by the people was overthrown by the military through conspiracy and violence.
(vi) General Augusto Pinochet led the Coup.
(vii) Pinochet became the President of the country and ruled it for the next 17 years.
(viii) From a Government elected by the people, the power shifted to the military officers.
(ix) The Government of USA was unhappy with Allende’s policies, so they funded activities that led to the coup.
(x) A military dictatorship was established in Chile.
(xi) Pinochet’s Government tortured and killed several of those who supported Allende and those who wanted democracy to be restored. These included General Alberto Bachelet of the Chilean Air Force and many others who had refused to join the Coup. General Bachelete’s wife and daughter were put in prison and tortured.
(xii) More than 3,000 people were killed and many more were reported missing.
Restoration of Democracy in Chile
(i) Pinochet’s military dictatorship came to an end after he decided to hold a referendum in 1988.
(ii) The people’s vote was a decisive ‘no’ to Pinochet continuing in power.
(iii) After the referendum, Pinochet first lost his political powers and then his military powers.
Political Freedom was Restored in Chile
(i) Four presidential elections have held, in different political parties have participated.
(ii) The elected government ordered inquiries into Pinochet’s rule, the inquiries showed that Pinochet’s Government was not only brutal but also very corrupt.
(iii) In January 2006, General Bachelet’s daughter was elected President of Chile.
(iv) She became the first woman to be a Defence Minister in Latin America.
(v) In the elections, she defeated one of Chile’s richest man.
(i) In 1980, Poland was ruled by the Polish United Workers Party, one of the many communist parties that ruled in several countries of Europe at that time.
(ii) In these countries no other political party was allowed to function.
(iii) The people were not allowed to choose the leaders of the communist party or the government.
(iv) Those who spoke against the leaders or the party or the government were put in prison.
(v) The government in Poland was supported and controlled by the Soviet Union (USSR) a vast and powerful communist state.
(vi) On 14th August, 1980, the workers of the Lenin Shipyard in city of Gdansk went on a strike.
(vii) The strike began with a demand to take back a crane operator, a woman worker, who was unjustly dismissed from service.
(viii) The strike was illegal because trade unions independent of the ruling party were not allowed in Poland.
(ix) A former electrician of the Shipyard Lech Walesa joined the strikers. Walesa soon emerged as the leader of the striking workers.
(x) The strike began to spread across the whole city. The workers wanted the right to form independent trade unions. They also demanded the release of political prisoners and an end to censorship on the press.
(xi) The workers led by Walesa signed a 21-point agreement with the government that ended their strike.
(xii) The government agreed to recognise the worker’s right to form independent trade unions and their right to strike.
(xiii) A new trade union called Solidarity was formed. It was the first time that an independent trade union was formed in any of the communist states.
(xiv) Within a year Solidarity swept across Poland and had about one crore members.
(xv) The government led by General Jaruzelski imposed Martial Law in December 1981.
(xvi) There were widespread corruption and mismanagement in Poland.
(xvii) Thousands of Solidarity members were put in prison.
(xviii) Freedom to organise, protest and express opinions was once again taken away.
(xix) This led to another wave of strikes again organised by Solidarity in 1988.
(xx) This time, the Polish Government was weak as, the support from Soviet Union was uncertain and the economy was in decline.
(xxi) Another round of negotiations took place with Walesa and resulted in an agreement in April 1989 for free elections.
(xxii) Solidarity contested all the 100 seats of the Senate and won 99 of them.
(xxiii) In October 1990, Poland had its first presidential elections in which more than one party could contest.
(xxiv) Walesa was elected President of Poland.
Common Features between the Poland and Chile
(i) The people could not choose or change their rulers.
(ii) There was no real freedom, express one’s opinions, form political associations and organise protests and political action.
(iii) The three democratic governments were different in their approach towards social and economic matters.
(iv) Allende preferred government control on big industries and interference.
(vi) Michelle stands somewhere in the middle on this issue. the economy.
(v) Walesa wanted the market to be free of government interference.
(vii) Power was exercised by governments elected by the people and not by the army, unelected leaders or any external power.
(viii) The people enjoyed some basic political freedoms.
(i) Democracy is a form of government that allows people to choose their rulers.
(ii) Only leaders elected by people should rule the country.
(iii) People should have freedom to express views, freedom to organise and freedom to protest.
(iv) Democracy has expanded throughout the twentieth century.It did not spread evenly in all parts of the world.
(v) Democracy was established first in some regions and then spread to other regions. While a majority of countries are democratic today, there are still large parts of the world
that are not democratic.
Justifications against Democracy
- Democracy is all about political competition and power play. There is no scope for morality.
- Leaders keep changing in a democracy. This leads to instability.
- So many people have to be consulted in a democracy that it leads to delays.
- Elected leaders do not know the best interest of the people. It leads to bad decisions.
- Democracy leads to corruption as it is based on electoral competition.
- Ordinary people don’t know what is good for them; they should not decide anything.
Justification for Democracy
- Democracy enhances the dignity of citizens.
- Democracy improves the quality of decision-making.
- Democracy provides a method to deal with differences and conflicts.
- Democracy is better than other forms of government because it allows us to correct its own mistakes.
- A democratic government is a better government because it is a more accountable form of government.
The Changing Map of Democracy
(i) Some countries like Britain were already democratic in 1900.
(ii) Some became democratic in the 1950s, like India.
(iii) Democracy expanded rapidly between 1975 and 2000.
End of Colonialism
(i) For a very long time, most countries of Asia and Africa were colonies under the control of European nations.
(ii) Many of these countries became democracies immediately after Second World War in 1945.
(iii) India achieved independence in 1947 and established itself as a democracy.
(iv) Ghana was a British colony known as Gold Coast, it became independent in 1957 led by Kwame Nkrumah.
(v) After independence Nkrumah became the first Prime Minister and then the President of Ghana.
(vi) Like Ghana other African nations after independence also became democracies. But they could not remain democracies for long.
(vii) After 1980, democracy was revived in Latin America.
(viii) The disintegration of the Soviet Union accelerated this process. Poland too became democratic.
(ix) The Soviet Union broke down in 1991. The Soviet Union comprised fifteen Republics, and all the Soviet republics became independent and most of them became democracies.
(x) Pakistan and Bangladesh also made a transition from army rule to democracy in the 1990s.
(xi) In Nepal, the king gave up many of his powers to become a constitutional monarch to be guided by elected leaders.
(xii) By 2005 about 140 countries are holding multi party elections.
(xiii) Myanmar was one of the countries where the people could not express their views freely.
(xiv) In November, 2010, pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Ki released from house arrest after 15 years. Pro-Junta Party (Ruling Party) won the election with landslide victory. It was the first election in 20 years.
(xv) For the first time, Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Ki stood for Parliament and won the election and took oath. She now has an official voice in the Myanmar Parliament.
Democracy at the Global Level
(i) International Organisation : There are many international organisations which partially perform the functions of an International Government though their is no single world government.
(ii) Examples of international organisations are:
(a) United Nation (UN), is a global association of nations of the world to help co-operation in international law, security, economic development and social equity.
(b) The united Nations has six main organs, viz, General Assembly, the Security Council, the International Court of Justice, the Secretariat, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Trusteeship Council.
(c) The United Nations has succeeded in achieving its primary objective. It has prevented large scale wars in many areas.
(d) There are seventeen specialised agencies at the United Nations. Some of the important agencies are International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nation’s International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) etc.
(e) UN Security Council is an organ of the united nations and is responsible for maintaining peace and security among countries. The council has five permanent members-US, Russia, UK, France and China.
(f) International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank give money to governments.
(g) Present UN Secretary General is Ban Ki-Moon (South Korea).
Are These Institutions Democratic?
No these international institutions are not truly democratic because they are dominated by the rich and powerful countries. Smaller and third world countries have very little say in these organisations. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, USA appears to be the only super power. The American dominance affects the working of the international organisations.
(i) USA is a big and powerful country and is also a democracy.
(ii) It is a self appointed guardian of democracy and interferes in the internal affairs of other countries in the name of strengthening and promoting democracy and dismantling non-democratic forms of government like dictatorship of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
The US alleged that Iraq possessed secret nuclear weapons, but when a UN team went to Iraq to search for such weapons, it did not find any. Still the US and its allies invaded Iraq, occupied it and removed Saddam Hussein from power in 2003. This war against Iraq was actually to gain control over the petroleum products of Iraq. The war was not authorised by UN Security Council and then UN Secretory General, Kofi Annan said that the US war on Iraq was illegal.