What Is Democracy?

Democracy, literally government of the people or rule by the people, has become one of the most widespread forms of political organization in the world. The word derives from the Greek words demos (“people”) and kratos (“rule” or “power”). Democracy is popular sovereignty, in which all citizens have an equal say in the governance of their country.

The central idea of democracy is the principle that all humans are equal before the law. This is reflected in the fact that every citizen has the right to vote and be elected into office, regardless of age, race, gender or religion. People are also guaranteed the freedom of expression, association, movement and belief. This enables them to air their views freely and debate with others. It also ensures that people can hold a range of beliefs and opinions, even if they are unpopular or inconvenient to the state.

When it comes to laws, democracy guarantees that they are fair and well-written, protecting the rights of all citizens. It is also guaranteed that the laws are upheld by the courts and enforced fairly by the police. People are also guaranteed the right to privacy, which protects against government surveillance or intrusion. The most important component of democracy is the rule of law, which ensures that governments and individuals cannot abuse their power or commit crimes. The underlying principle of democracy is that all decisions should be made based on facts and reason, not personal bias or prejudice.

Democracy is also seen as the best way to unleash human potential. For example, it encourages countries to spend more on education and health care, which allows poorer segments of society to reach their full potential. This in turn boosts local economies, according to MIT economist Daron Acemoglu. Countries that transitioned to democratic systems in the last 70 years grew faster than those that did not, he says.

It is important to stay informed about what is happening in your democracy. This can be done through the media or by joining groups that campaign on particular issues, such as environmental protection or ending corporate exploitation. It is also important to make your voice heard if policies appear undemocratic or against human rights – you can do this by writing to your representatives, the media or other groups.

The success of democracy depends on broad and sustaining participation by all its citizens. Without this, it will eventually lose its grip on society. So it is important to start at the local level, in our communities and neighbourhoods, where it will be easier for people to understand how different policies can impact their daily lives.