The term “democracy” has many meanings. One commonly used meaning is representative government. A form of government where one segment has a preponderance of votes. An election to govern a representative government is normally called a plebiscitary election. A government led by a democracy, also known as a constitutional democracy, is described as a constitutional democracy.
Within a democratic political system, the institutions of the democracy ensure that each citizen has the opportunity to participate in the political process and have their say in how the country is run. This provides citizens with a sense of involvement and a voice in how they are governed. Each political party in a democracy may hold a manifestos or a presidential election.
The most famous form of democracy is modern liberal democracy. These are named after the French Revolution where a group of citizens banded together to remove the absolute power of the King and institute a form of democracy in place of absolute rule. This group set up institutions that were considered to be democratic. In most modern liberal democracies, freedom of speech and press is protected. The rule of law is highly developed and the political system is controlled by a constitution. Privacy is not an issue as people can freely criticize government policies without repercussions.
In contrast, there is a form of democracy known as authoritarian democracy, which has a strong centralized executive authority, and is ruled by a party that is ruled by a bureaucracy. Industrial society has greatly increased in developed nations over the last century and this has brought with it the need for higher wages, more leisure time, and more opportunities. As these opportunities have become available, there has been a growing gap between the haves and have nots. In most cases, the haves outnumber the have nots in wealth and income levels, so a division of wealth has resulted.
Many have labeled modern-day liberal democracy as dangerous because it gives too much power to the individuals. Others have said that a democratic polity would likely fail because it cannot provide social services or protect its citizens from major threats. A few, such as Jean Loriot, have argued that liberal democracy is inherently prone to corruption. For this reason, he has classified contemporary democratic societies into three groups, each with varying levels of corruption. Group one, which includes many western European and North American countries, is considered to be the world’s democracy and enjoys strong levels of economic prosperity, technological advancement, and social welfare.
Group two, consisting of eastern European and Latin American countries, consists of relatively poor, uneducated, and corrupt societies. The third grouping, which is comprised of Asia-Pacific nations, consists of relatively wealthy, advanced civilizations, yet has one of the highest rates of infant mortality and poverty. Based on these definitions, we could argue that democratic societies are not inherently incapable of providing social services or protection to their citizens. However, in order for us to evaluate the level of democracy in different societies, we must apply the criteria suggested in this article to determine what exactly democracy means.