The meaning of Political Democracy derives from the ancient Greek words, ’Demos’ which means (people) and ‘Kratos’ means (power or rule). Therefore, the meaning of democracy implies a government in which the supreme power rest in the people.

It is a political system that is ruled not by monarchs or aristocrats but by the people themselves through their representatives. Generally, the representatives are chosen by the people through the adult franchise. Thus, the functions of the government are based on the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

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MEANING OF POLITICAL DEMOCRACY

Different writers define Democracy in various ways. According to President Lincoln, democracy is, “The government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Lord Bryce defines the meaning of Democracy as, “That form of government in which the ruling power of a state is legally vested, not in any particular class or classes, but in the members of the community as a whole.”

J.S Mill defines the meaning of democracy as, ”That form of government in which the whole people or some numerous portion of them, exercise the governing power through deputies periodically elected by themselves.”

S.M. Upset defines the meaning of democracy as, ”A political system which supplies regular constitutional opportunities for changing the governing officials and a social mechanism which permits the largest part of the population to influence major decisions by choosing among contenders for political office.”

HOBBES POLITICAL THOUGHT

Hobbes, while advocating the idea of an absolute and unlimited sovereign concedes that the people have the right to resist the sovereign if one is “Commanded to kill wound or maim himself, or not to resist those that assault him; or to abstain from the use of food, air, medicine, or any other thing, without which he cannot live.”

LOCKE’S POLITICAL THOUGHT

In Locke’s theory, we find the rulers bound by the terms of the contract, and the people have the right to revolt or in his words, “Make an appeal to the heavens” in case they find their king violating the terms of the contract. Thus, people may resist the abuse of power; they can bring down potential dictators and elect new rulers in their place.

T.H. GREEN POLITICAL THOUGHT

T.H. Green recognizes peoples’ right to resist political authority in the event of cruel necessity. A revolt against the abuse of political authority is justified if the force of public conscience sanctions it and if it is for the general interest of the community.

LASKI POLITICAL THOUGHT

Laski justifies that people have the right to disobey the authorities if they find that the commands of the state lack the force of utility and moral adequacy. Like T.H. green he too believes that the right to resistance is the duty to disobey when the actions of the sovereign are detrimental to the cause of the ‘common good’.

GANDHI POLITICAL THOUGHT

Gandhi’s view is based on the premise that authority is legitimate when it is based on truth and non-violence. If the reverse occurs, the people have the right to resist it by means of Ahimsa and Satyagraha.

MEANING OF SOCIAL DEMOCRACY

Social democracy identifies democracy with a society characterized by some kind of social equality and where there are no class differences.

Social democracy supports government intervention in economic and social fields. Intervention for the sake of promoting social justice within the framework of a capitalist economy. The government has the responsibility to bring about income redistribution and to regulate the economy in the general interest and welfare.

Modern social democracy aims at curbing poverty, social and economic inequalities, and oppression of the weaker sections of the society. The state is also responsible for providing to the weaker sections: public services like free health care, child care, social security, and care for the elderly, education, workers’ compensation, etc.

Social democracy seeks to establish a social order on the basis of equality of status and opportunity for all. It involves the absence of special privileges and abolition of all distinctions of birth, rank, and status. It also means a society in which everyone is provided with the necessary conditions for the fullest development of their personalities.

MEANING OF ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY

The Socialists realized that free enterprise under the capitalist system led to economic disparities, exploitation of labor, unemployment, and concentration of wealth in the hands of the few. Therefore, economic democracy means where the state takes the responsibility to redistribute income and wealth through the abolition of private property, progressive taxation, and state-sponsored welfare activities.

Besides, the state will make laws for safeguarding the interest of the workers. For eg, defining the hours of work, minimum wage, social security, etc. The state will also take responsibility for providing basic requirements like food, clothing, and shelter to the citizens.

Neo-liberals on the other hand, identify economic democracy with ‘Popular Capitalism’ where the shareholders have the ownership of the corporations, who are members of the public coming from all sections of society. Thus the shareholders will have a say in the decision-making process within the corporation.

ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY IMPLIES ABOLITION OF ECONOMIC EXPLOITATION

Economic democracy as we understand today implies the abolition of economic exploitation. For instance, if we define political democracy as the authority of the people in the political sphere; democracy implies the existence of political equality in the sense of the equal distribution of political power-then economic democracy is the authority of people in the economic sphere. Therefore, Democracy means the existence of economic equality in the form of equal distribution of economic power.

ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY IMPLIES PARTICIPATION OF CITIZENS

Economic democracy relates to the creation of an economic structure and economic process. It facilitates the participation of citizens in the economic decision-making and decision-implementing process. Besides, it aims at securing an equal distribution of economic power among citizens. As a result, people are able to control the economic process, within an institutional framework of peoples’ ownership of the means of production.

CHARACTERISTICS OF ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY

The characteristics of economic democracy are as follows:

  1. It is an economic system, determines by economic equality. It means the absence of economic exploitation of one class by the other.
  2. The ownership of the means of production is in the hands of society and not a few individuals. The economic processes should not be oligarchic in nature. All Macroeconomic decisions, namely, decisions concerning the running of the economy as a whole (overall level of production, consumption, and investment, amounts of work, hours of work, technology to be used, etc.) are taken by the citizen’s body collectively. Microeconomic decisions at workplaces may be taken by the individual production units.
  3. The production is carried out not for private profit but for the good of society as a whole. Economic democracy thus complements political democracy and is the foundation of inclusive democracy in general.

FEATURES OF POLITICAL DEMOCRACY

The features of political democracy are:

PEOPLE INVOLVES IN DEMOCRACY:

Democracy is a kind of political system where people actively involve themselves in public affairs and rule themselves. There are no differences between rulers and ruled. They are one and the same.

DEMOCRACY IMPLIES A REPRESENTATIVE FORM OF GOVERNMENT:

Democracy implies a representative form of government. In modern states, an ordinary citizen neither has time nor capacity to directly participate in government affairs. He, therefore, delegates his ’sovereignty’ to a representative. The representative acts on behalf of the citizens who elected him. However, the citizens still have the ultimate power to recall their representatives, if they are not happy with their performance.

DEMOCRACY IS A WELFARE STATE:

The state is not an institution of coercion but an agent of social welfare and society. It has a moral responsibility to create conditions for improving the lives of people.

PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHTS AND FREEDOM TO CHOOSE:

The people have the freedom to differ from the policies of rulers. They have the right to criticize the shortcomings of the rulers and the ultimate power of changing the rulers. This power of an ordinary citizen to remove the mighty rulers is all that matters most. It makes democracy 3 unique systems where the real sovereignty exists in the hands of ‘the ruled’ and that the government is not the master but a servant of the people.

FREEDOM OF PRESS:

There is freedom of the press and media to impart information and ideas. Thus it serves as an agency of public opinion.

RIGHTS TO TAKE PART IN PUBLIC AFFAIRS:

All citizens have the right to take part in the management of public affairs. Therefore, it requires the existence of representative institutions at all levels. In particular, a Parliament in which the aims and aspirations of all sections of society are represented. The parliament as an institution not only expresses the will of the people through legislation. It also supervises the actions of the rulers

FREE AND FAIR ELECTION:

The key element in the exercise of democracy is the holding of free and fair elections at regular intervals enabling the people’s will to be express. These elections must be on the basis of universal, equal, and secret suffrage. Besides, all voters can choose their representatives under conditions of equality, openness, and transparency that stimulate political competition.

CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS:

Democracy is characterized by the presence of civil and political rights. Particularly the right to vote and to be elected, the rights to freedom of speech, expression and assembly, access to information and the right to organize political parties and pressure groups to carry out political activities.

RIGHT TO INFORMATION:

The people have the right to have access to information about the activities of the government.

FREE AND IMPARTIAL JUDICIARY:

Democracy means is free and impartial judiciary to guarantee the rule of law.

INCLUSION OF LOCAL AND REGIONAL GOVERNMENT.

Democratic institutions and processes must be decentralized to involve the regional and local areas in their own governance. These wins also broaden the base of public participation.

GROUNDS OF RESISTANCE TO POLITICAL AUTHORITY

In rational terms, men obey the state because they stand to gain by doing so. They are conscious that the state has a rational purpose; that purpose is the promotion of social good on the largest possible scale; the achievement of that purpose demands their willing cooperation and obedience to laws. But the same view also tells them that, in certain circumstances, they may deem it their duty to withdraw their cooperation and resist the state, i.e. when the mischiefs of obedience are greater than the mischiefs of disobedience.

WHY DO PEOPLE OBEY THE STATE?

People obey the state because by doing so they hope the stat will provide with those conditions of social life which are necessary for the realization of their own personalities. Therefore it is the duty of the state to recognize their rights and give them increasing substance. When there is clear evidence that over a reasonable period, the state is not doing its duty, or in other words, when its actions are not in accordance with its purpose, the individual has a duty to ask himself why he should continue to render obedience. He has a moral right to resist the state.

RESISTANCE TO POLITICAL AUTHORITY

Therefore, the right to resist political authority are as follows:

  1. The individual must not resist the political authority if reasonable grounds exist showing the state is making attempts to play its part even though it has not achieved its objects as rapidly as he might wish.
  2. One must first adopt constitutional methods of agitation because, very often, these methods are sufficient to gain the objective.
  3. Resistance can be resort to only for the vindication of significant issues, as distinguished from minor issues.
  4. The gist of these limitations is that, as Burke says, the right to resist is the medicine of the constitution. Not its daily bread. Resistance to political authority must be exercised with caution because, while the conscientious leader who leads the resistance may often motivate by the highest moral purpose. He must remember that he may be followed by other less conscientious individuals who may take advantage of the opportunity to gain selfish ends

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