Democracy , broadly speaking, is the exercise of political power by the people . Another word that accompanies democracy, since its origins, is the word citizenship , which means, in general, the condition of those who take part in the city, with their rights and obligations provided for by the constitution. In this article we will impart you some examples of democracy.
The origins of democracy date back to Ancient Greece , specifically the classical period. The meaning of the term points to two words of the Greek vocabulary: demos (people) and kratos (power). In Athens, in the Classic Period, the concept of citizenship did not embrace all people. Citizens were only men, of majority and Athenians, also children of Athenian parents.
The French Revolution was a milestone for the expansion of the concept of citizenship, which also changed what was understood by democracy. The revolutionaries, inspired by Enlightenment ideals, believed that the possibility of massive popular participation was the awakening to a new era against the Old Regime that would lead to immense social, political, moral and scientific advancement.
Despite the expansion of citizenship, since political power was concentrated in the hands of castes since the end of Greek democracy in Europe, the revolutionaries did not include women in the possibility of citizen participation. These only started to participate in political decisions from the 19th century onwards, when, in 1893, New Zealand released women’s suffrage.
What we understand today by democracy leaves room for several interpretations. Also, nowadays, there are three different types of democratic political regimes that will be described below.
Types of democracy
There is a difficulty in identifying, classifying and precisely defining democracy, as it can be presented, at different levels of development, in three distinct types, which are:
- Direct democracy : exercised in Athens in the classical period. All citizens could directly participate in it, presenting bills and voting on bills presented by their peers. The citizen body then acted as a Legislative Branch, and the Executive Branch (government) should submit to the decisions taken in the legislative assemblies. Due to the restricted number of citizens, the direct practice of participation was feasible, and young people from families who could participate in decision-making were educated for citizen participation.
- representative democracy: it is a type that arises together with parliamentarism and republicanism. It is a more current form that allows an indirect exercise of democracy through the election of representatives for the Legislative and Executive powers. Some factors act for the emergence of this type of democracy, such as universal suffrage (voting extended to all); the elaboration of constitutions that prevent segregation and regulate public and political life, establishing equality; the need for alternation of power; and the impossibility of direct participation by all due to the expansion of citizenship. Although there are benefits for this type of democratic regime, such as the participation of all, there are, as a counterpoint, loopholes so that the representatives, elected by the people, do not act in favor of their voters, but in their own benefit.
- Participatory democracy : located between direct democracy and indirect (representative) democracy, semi-direct participatory democracy is composed of the election of representatives to act in the Legislative and Executive powers and the possibility of direct participation of the population in governmental and state decision-making. Such participation takes place through plebiscites and local popular assemblies that, computing popular participation and its results, when added to the whole, interfere in political actions.
Examples of democracy
The defense of democracy has become the hallmark of a political thought that has spread throughout the West since Modernity. There is, to some extent, an association of democracy with republicanism, despite the fact that republican countries are not necessarily democratic. There are also democratic parliamentary regimes, where the Legislative power is democratically elected, and even democratic parliamentary monarchies, such as England.
Direct democracy is no longer found nowadays due to the difficulty of implementing this type of regime. Brazil lives under a representative democratic regime, but the Federal Constitution of 1988 provides for types of participation that, if fully exercised, would bring our country closer to a participatory democratic regime.
Among the examples of participatory democracies, we can list some states in the United States and Switzerland — which exercises and encourages citizen participation in politics, beyond elections, through plebiscites and assemblies located in districts within cities.
The ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity, strongly defended during the French Revolution , have their origins in the Enlightenment . France and the United States harbored, in their revolutions, most of the ideas that changed the Western political scene. The expansion of the concepts of citizenship and democracy was a significant change that gave rise to a political and social thought that lasts until today.
All current democratic regimes have, to some degree, modern inspiration . However, we have older democracies, such as France and the United States , which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries, and more recent democracies, which emerged in the 20th century. Many of these come from the last decades of the century or the beginning of the 21st century.
The fact is that old democracies face old wear and tear that lead to popular discontent, and new democracies face problems in establishing themselves in a society unaccustomed to democratic thinking.
Most democratic regimes that emerged or were inspired by the modern model are republican. Such regimes have in common the fact that they are governed by a Constitution that establishes minimum rights and duties and guarantees civil equality before the law. Factors such as religion, color, origin, gender and sexual orientation cannot interfere with the guarantee of constitutional rights.
Still, there is a promotion of a secular and universal education aimed at the citizenship formation of the population. Unfortunately, many of these modern democratic elements are ideal models that governments insist on not putting into practice due to self-indulgence, corruption and mass manipulation.
democracy and dictatorship
Democracy and dictatorship are opposite forms of government . Dictatorship is the unilateral imposition of political decisions without popular participation. There is confusion in many cases, as dictatorships often maintain electoral systems.
We can verify the incidence of dictatorial regimes in the following cases:
- If a dictatorial government is elected by fraudulent electoral processes;
- Whether the election takes place with a single party or by parties that submit to a single party;
- If elections take place at local levels, while the national chief executive is a dictator;
- If there is no parliament that legislates autonomously.
Monarchies , as mentioned before, can also be democratic , if a parliament is elected that is exempt from the decisions taken by the monarchs, and the monarchy becomes a head of state and, in many cases, has a more figurative role. than governor.
Democratic countries are those that have freedom of the press; possibility of voting and participation in public life for all citizens (eligibility); freedom of political association; access to information; and constitution of suitable, impartial elections observed by international organizations. There is also a case of dictatorship that occurs when there is a temporary suspension of the Constitution, forming a State of exception that suspends the Democratic State of Rights.
Jacques Rancière, a contemporary French philosopher, observes that democracy is the regime of dissent and disagreement. According to the thinker, in the midst of dissent, the population must find an associative way out of politics. However, the wear and tear generated by dissent has caused, according to Rancière, a revulsion towards democracy and the desire for dictatorship, a factor that motivated the writing of a book by this thinker, entitled O Hate à Democracy .