Democracies and Democracy


Democracy is government of the people, by the people, for the people. It is a term coined from the Greek demos (“people”) and kratos (“rule”). Democracy is one of many political systems throughout history that claim to be representative, but it remains one of the most popular forms of governance today. There is a widespread belief that democracy is the ideal form of politics, and that the absence of democracy is tantamount to tyranny.

The question is whether this view of democracy has any foundation. Many scholars have argued that political institutions must be assessed in terms of their outcomes, and that democracy is no exception. Others have argued that there are intrinsic reasons to believe that democracy is morally desirable independent of its consequences.

One way to measure the health of democracy is by looking at electoral competition and how stable a country’s political system is. In this respect the Global Democracy Index (GDIS) is a useful tool. The GDIS compares 167 countries to each other and ranks them on how democratic they are. The GDIS is produced by the German development agency and includes a range of indicators such as press freedom, civil liberties and political participation.

Another way to evaluate democracy is by considering the quality of a democracy’s decision making. A common epistemic justification for democracy is that it is more reliable than other methods of governing because it enables the exploitation of citizens’ underlying cognitive diversity to identify their interests and the causal mechanisms required to advance them. This argument has been advanced by John Dewey and others.

A further reason why democracy is a good thing is that it gives people the power to take part in decisions that affect them. This is particularly important when people face serious challenges, such as poverty or war. In a democratic society they can make their voices heard by putting pressure on politicians to address these issues.

Moreover, in a democratic society, people can discuss their views with other people, form interest groups and lobbying groups, or even gather together to protest against decisions that they disagree with. This right is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, article 20).

It is important to remember that no nation is born a democracy and that democracy is not a static institution. It is a process that requires sustained commitment and effort to sustain.

Finally, it is important to remember that no one can vote unless they are a citizen. As such, a nation cannot truly be described as a democracy until everyone can participate in the electoral process. This is an essential requirement of democracy that must be safeguarded against attempts to undermine it. To this end, some nations have created constitutional guarantees of citizenship.