What Is Democracy?


Democracy is a form of government in which authority is shared or delegated by the people through elections for their representatives. The word “democracy” is derived from the Greek words for people (“demoia”) and rule (krama). There are many different versions of democracy that vary in the extent to which the people’s opinions are reflected, such as direct democracy where the people make their own decisions or representative democracy where the people choose representatives to represent them. Democracy has been described as a system of government that values equality and respects the will of the majority. It is also widely considered to be the most just and fair form of government.

One of the most important features of democracy is freedom of expression. Without the right to freely express one’s opinion, it is impossible for citizens to take part in their government. This includes freedom to discuss their political views with others, to present them in the media, and to vote for their preferred representatives. Without the freedom to express one’s opinion, it is not possible for citizens to evaluate whether their government is acting fairly or is imposing policies that violate human rights.

It is a basic principle of democracy that everyone has the right to equal participation in the democratic process, and this applies whether one is an eligible voter or not. Regardless of their status as a citizen, every person has the right to be informed about the issues being discussed or debated in parliament and to be represented by their choice of politicians. This includes the right to participate in meetings or conferences that are organized by their elected representatives or political parties, and to receive information from them about the work they do for their constituents.

Another essential feature of democracy is that it is based on the principle of the dignity and worth of all human beings, which requires that everyone should have an equal opportunity to take part in the democratic process and to contribute to the development of their societies. Everyone has the right to free and unrestricted access to education, public services, and social security, as well as to the protection of his or her property and personal liberty.

In addition, democracy is associated with economic growth. A study by MIT economist Daron Acemoglu found that countries that established democracies over the last 70 years saw much faster economic growth than those that did not, as a result of investments in education and health care.

Some theorists have argued that democracy is intrinsically valuable as it ensures the protection of core liberal rights, such as the right to a fair trial and the right not to be arbitrarily deprived of life or property. Others have defended more instrumental arguments, such as the fact that a country with high levels of per capita income and education is much more likely to be democratic. Democracies tend to become more fragile when these factors decline.