I am sure you might have thought about what it actually means to live in a democratic society. A democratic government is considered to be one of the main signs of a developed community or nation. Do you know the main features of Democracy? If not, this post will be of immense help as you read it to the end. You will also get to see the various types of democracy, as well as the functions of democracy. So, read on!
What is Democracy?
Democracy basically means “power of people”. It is a political regime which is based on the method of collective decision making with equal contribution of participants on the outcome of the process, or in its significant stages.
Democracy as a method, can be applicable to any public structures, though today, it is mostly applicable in the state since it has great power. With regards to this, the definition of democracy is usually narrowed to one of the following.
- The appointment of leaders by the people through honest and competitive elections
- The people are the only legitimate source of power
- The society carries out self-management for the sake of the general interests of the population.
Features of Democracy
What are the features of democracy? The main features of democracy are indisputable initial requirements that are imposed on all participants of political activities in the country.
Basic features of democracy include
- Political Freedom
This means a freedom of choice, social order and form of government. It refers to the right of people to determine and change constitutional order and ensure the protection of human rights.
- Equality of Citizenship
This means equality of all people before the law, equal responsibility for any committed offense and the right to equal protection before court. Equality is guaranteed for all citizens: there can be no privileges or restrictions on the grounds of race, color, political beliefs, religious or other convictions, ethnic or social origin, property status, residence, linguistic or other grounds. The most important aspect is the equality of rights and freedoms of men and women who have the same opportunities for their implementation.
Must read: Types of Citizenship in Nigeria
- Selectivity of State Bodies
This implies formation of authorities and local government through the people’s will. It ensures their replaceability, control and equal opportunity to exercise electoral rights for everybody. In a democratic state, the same people should not permanently occupy positions in government bodies for a long time: this causes distrust of citizens and leads to a loss of legitimacy of these bodies.
- Separation of Powers
This means interdependence and mutual restrictions are imposed on different branches of power: legislative, executive, judicial. It serves as an obstacle to the transformation of power into a means of suppressing freedom and equality.
- Decision-making by the will of the majority with the mandatory observance of the rights of the minority
This feature means combination of the will of the majority with guarantees of the rights of the individual who act as a part of minority – ethnic, religious or political. It also means the absence of discrimination, suppression of rights of an individual who is not a part of the majority in decision-making activities.
It refers to the diversity of social phenomena, broadening of the range of political choice, leading not only pluralism of opinions, but also political pluralism, the plurality of parties, public associations, etc. With various professions and charters acting within the framework of the constitution, democracy is possible when it is based on the principle of pluralism, but not all pluralism is necessarily democratic. Only when in conjunction with other principles does pluralism assume universal significance for modern democracy.
Types of Democracy
This type of democracy is typical for some countries in which ancient traditions play a significant role. This form of government is practically found in the United Kingdom.
This type of democracy is based on the populist means created by state rulers.
The characteristic feature of this type of democracy is the presence of a large number of political centers that can make decisions. This actually means that the power is dispersed.
This type of democracy is still being developed, but its main goal is to reject the majority principle. Such a form of government must exist on mutual partnership, agreement, and compromise.
Functions of Democracy
Some functions of democracy are as follows:
- Organizational and Political Functions
They include A nation’s self-government as a source of state power and presence of organizational links between democracy players: government bodies, state organizations, public associations, trade unions.
- Regulatory-Compromise Function
Provision of pluralism in the activities of democracy subjects in the civilized framework of cooperation and compromise, concentration and consolidation of different political forces around the interests of civil society and state.
- Social-stimulating Function
It ensures optimal service of state for society, stimulating, accounting and usage of public opinion and citizens’ activity (consultative referendums, mandates, letters, applications) in the development and adoption of government decisions.
Constitutive functions include; the formation of public authorities and local self-government bodies by democratic means (competition, elections).
Supervisory functions include; ensuring the activities of state bodies within their competence in accordance with the requirements of regulatory legal acts.
Protective function includes; provision of security, honor, and dignity by state bodies.
If you have read this post to this stage, you must have seen the main features of democracy, types of democracy, and the functions of democracy. The most important thing is for you to note that this type of government promotes equality amongst individuals and the ability to choose the ruler or leader of the country.