The term “democracy” comes from the Greek and means “rule of the people”. In Germany, this form of government has existed since 1949, previously it existed once from 1918 to 1933. In a democracy, all citizens have the same rights and obligations. No emperor rules over them, not even a king and not a general.
In a democracy, all people are free to express their opinions, to gather, to inform themselves. There are different parties that express their ideas in so-called party programs. In a democracy, citizens elect people and parties by whom they want to be governed for a certain period of time. And if the government does its job badly, the people can choose another government at the next election.
What is a simple definition of democracy?
For many people in Brandenburg, life in a democratic order was completely new when the two German states were reunited in 1990. In recent years, dissatisfaction with the state of democracy has increased remarkably. What constitutes a democratic system?
Anyone who looks at the political map today may be surprised. Democratic states seem to be almost universally represented on our planet. According to the non-governmental organization Freedom House, in 2018, of the 193 member states of the UN, 116 countries were parliamentary democracies. This means that there is a parliament in around 60 percent of the member states of the United Nations – an important feature of democracies, although far from the only one.
In addition, official state names reinforce the impression. North Korea, for example, is called the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”. From the Western point of view, on the other hand, it is a communist dictatorship in which not the people rule, but a dictator. According to its own constitution, Turkey is a democratic state governed by the rule of law. However, from the point of view of the European Union, it has turned into an authoritarian regime under President Erdogan. The GDR also called itself democratic.
In assessing the question of whether a state is democratic, the focus is usually on the question of whether political offices are filled by elections. But even if free and unadulterated elections are a necessary criterion, a state is not only democratic, because the change of rule is organized by elections. Often a decision or political agenda is justified by the fact that the incumbent and their program have finally been confirmed by elections. However, if a measure is directed against other building blocks of democracy, such as respect for fundamental rights or the rule of law, these are nevertheless anti-democratic measures.
All democratic constitutions are based on the idea of popular sovereignty, according to which a person can be free only if he lives in a political system, within which he can participate in the adoption of laws and rules of coexistence. This is done in different ways of political participation. For example, the citizens of Germany are free to express their opinion in associations, interest groups or through protest actions, or to participate in the drafting of legislative proposals themselves in political parties. However, the most important element of popular sovereignty is elections, which determine the balance of power in parliaments, the composition of governments, as well as numerous other bodies. The implementation is therefore subject to strict criteria, which are reflected in the five electoral principles of universal, free, equal, direct and secret ballot. It is also relevant in which electoral law is elected and in which way the government is appointed.
What is a democracy and examples?
What are the 3 types of democracy?