Chapter Notes and Summary
• What is Democracy?
Democracy is a form of government in which rulers are elected by people.
• Features of Democracy
1. Major decisions are taken by elected leaders
2. In Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf led a military caup in October 1999 and overthrew a democratically elected government and became chief executive of country.
3. Later, he changed his designation to president.
4. In 2002, he issued a “Legal Framework Order” that suggested that President could dismiss national or provincial assemblies.
5. work of civilian cabinet was supervised by a National Security Council which was dominated by military officers.
6. Elections were held to National and State Assemblies.
7. elected leaders had some powers. But final power rests with military officers and General Musharraf.
8. So, Pakistan under General Musharraf cannot be called a democracy. Because elected rulers cannot take final decisions.
9. In a democracy, final decision making power must rest with those elected by people.
• Free and Fair Electoral Competition
1. In China, election are held every five years for electing country’s Parliament called National Peoples Congress.
2. national people’s congress has power to appoint president of country.
3. Before contesting elections, a candidate needs approval of Chinese Communist Party.
4. Only those who are member of Chinese Communist Party or eight smaller parties allied to it were allowed to contest elections held in 2002-03.
5. government is always formed by Communist Party.
6. Mexico holds elections after every six years to elect its president. Until 2000, every election was won by a party called PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party). PRI was known to we many dishonest tricks to win election. In reality, people had no choice.
7. In China elections do not offer people any serious choice. They have to choose ruling party and candidates approved by it.
8. Holding elections are not sufficient. elections must offer a real choice between political alternatives.
9. A democracy must be based on free and fair elections where those currently in power have a fair chance of losing.
• One Person, One Vote, One Value
1. In Saudi Arabia, women do not have right to vote.
2. In estonia, citizenship rules are made in such a way that people belonging to Russian minority find it difficult to vote.
3. In Fiji, electoral system is such that vote of an indigenous Fiji has more value than an Indian–Fijian.
4. Democracy is based on a fundamental principle of political equality.
5. In a democracy, each adult citizen must have one vote and each vote must have one value.
• Rule of Law and Respect for Rights
1. Zimbabwe attained independence from white minority rule in 1980.
2. Since then country has been ruled by ZANU-PF, party that led freedom struggle.
3. Its leader Robert Mugabe has been ruling country since independence.
4. Elections have been held regularly and always won by ZANU-PF.
5. President Mugabe is popular but also uses unfair practices in elections.
6. Opposition party workers are harassed and their meetings disrupted.
7. Public protests and demonstrations against government are declared illegal.
8. There is a law that limits right to criticise President.
9. Both print and electronic media are controlled by government and give only ruling party’s version.
10. Popular governments and popular leader like, Mugabe can be autocratic.
11. People should be free to think, to have opinions, to express these in public, to form associations, to protest.
12. state should protect some basic rights and take other political actions.
13. Everyone should be equal in eyes of law.
14. Democratic government has to respect some basic rules and it has to respect some guarantees to minorities.
15. In democracy, every major decision has to go through a series of consultations.
16. A democratic government rules within limits set by constitutional law and citizen’s rights.
• Arguments Against Democracy
1. Leaders keep changing in a democracy. This leads to instability.
2. Democracy is all about political competition and powerplay. There is no scope for morality .
3. So many people have to be consulted in a democracy that it leads to delays.
4. Elected leaders do not know best interests of people. It leads to bad decisions.
5. Democracy leads to corruption for it is based on electoral competition.
6. Ordinary people do not know what is good for them, they should not decide anything.
7. Democracy leads to frequent changes in leadership.
Sometimes this can set back big decisions and effect government’s efficiency.
• Arguments for Democracy (Merits)
1. Democracy is better than any other form of government in responding to needs of people.
2. A democratic government is a better government because it is a more accountable form of government.
3. Democracy improves quality of decision making.
4. Democracy provides a method to deal with differences and conflicts.
5. Democracy enhances dignity of citizens.
6. Democracy is better than other forms of government because it allows us to correct its own mistakes.
• Broader Meaning of Democracy
1. most common form of democracy is representative democracy.
2. A majority is allowed to take decision on behalf of all people.
3. Modern democracies involve such a large number of people that it is physically impossible to sit together and take collective decisions. Thus we have representative democracy.
4. Some times we use democracy for organisations other than government. A democratic decision involves consultation with and consent of all those who are affected by that decision. Those who are not powerful should have same say in taking decisions as those who are powerful. This can apply to a government or a family or any other organisation. Thus, democracy is a principle that can be applied to any sphere of life.
5. Sometimes we use word democracy not to describe any existing government but to set up an ideal standard that all democracies must aim to become.
6. Democracy depends on active political participation by all citizens. Thus a study of democracy must focus on democratic politics.
Chapter Notes and Summary