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What is Democracy? Definition and Types

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Democracy is the most common and popular government system in the world. Democracy protects the rights of the general people. As a result, citizens are much more optimistic about the democratic system of government.
However, the nature of this democracy varies from country to country. The main purpose of this system of government is the spontaneous participation of the people. In this article, we will discuss the definition of democracy, with types and which countries belong to this system.

What is democracy?

The word ‘democracy’ originated from the Greek word ”Demos and Kratos”. It means, rule by the people in a particular city-state. It was used in the middle of the 5th century BC to refer to the existing political system in some Greek city-states.
The first democracy was created in Athens, a city-state in Greece. Aristotle is called the father of democracy. However, the father of modern democracy is John Locke.

Definition of Democracy

Democracy is a system of government where decisions are made directly or indirectly by the people to formulate laws, policies and governance, foreign policy, etc.
Democracy is a system of government where citizens directly exercise their power and have the right to elect government representatives.
It is a kind of government that is governed by the people and the people have some basic rights that the government cannot take away from them and these rights are internationally recognized and guaranteed.
According to Abraham Lincoln, “Democracy is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
According to Dicey, “Democracy is a form of government in which the governing body is a comparatively large fraction of the entire nation.”

Types of Democracy

There are 7 main types of democracy are described below such as,
  • Direct democracy
  • Representative democracy
  • Presidential democracy
  • Parliamentary democracy
  • Authoritarian democracy
  • Participatory democracy
  • Islamic democracy

1. Direct democracy:
Direct democracy is when citizens can vote directly for a policy without an interim representative or Parliament. If the government has to pass any law or policy, it goes to the people. They vote on the issue and determine the fate of their own country. People can even raise issues on their own, as long as there is enough consensus on their issues. Even without public support, the tax can not be increased!
For example, Switzerland is a successful direct democracy. People gather at certain places in the country and vote for the law of their society.
2. Representative democracy:
Representative democracy or indirect democracy is when the people send their representatives to the parliament by voting. This is currently the most common form of democracy in the world.
In addition, it emphasizes the protection of the rights of minorities in the state. They will be able to voice their grievances more efficiently by selecting qualified representatives. The downside of this form of democracy is that elected governments may fail to serve the interests of citizens.
Most of the world’s representative democracies consider themselves liberal democracies. This is because they value the needs of their individual citizens more than the state as a whole. This is why it is difficult to declare an emergency in countries like India and the United States.
3. Presidential democracy:
Under presidential democracy, a state has a significant amount of power over the presidential government. He is directly or indirectly elected by the citizens of the state.
In this system, the president and the executive branch of government are not accountable to the legislature, but under normal circumstances, they cannot dismiss the legislature altogether. Similarly, the legislature cannot remove the president from office. The president has the power to veto any bill. If the legislature can collect enough votes or support, it can ignore the president’s veto.
The head of state is also the head of government. Countries like the United States and Argentina have established presidential democracy systems.
4. Parliamentary democracy:
A democracy that gives more power to the legislature is called parliamentary democracy. The executive branch derives its democratic legitimacy only from the legislature, i.e. the parliament. The elected legislature (parliament) elects the head of government (prime minister) and can remove the prime minister at any time by passing a no-confidence vote.
The head of state is the ‘president’ and the head of government is the ‘prime minister’ and they are different and both have different powers.
5. Authoritarian democracy:
This form of democracy establishes when only the aristocracy is a part of the parliamentary process. People vote for their elected candidate. However, the common people cannot participate in the election. As a result, aristocrats are the ruler of the state and they decide the various interests of the people. Russia under Vladimir Putin is a classic example of such a regime. Another one is Hong Kong.
6. Participatory democracy:
The exact opposite of authoritarian democracy is the participatory form of democracy. It divides the state into smaller networks to empower the powerless and prefers to empower community-based grassroots politics. It emphasizes discussion and criticism rather than mere voting.
Although at present, no country actively practices this form of democracy. However, many social movements, such as the ‘international occupation movement’, the ‘Bolivarian movement in Venezuela, and the ‘Narmada Bachao movement’ in India, organized themselves around a participatory model of democracy.
7. Islamic democracy:
This form of democracy seeks to simultaneously maintain a democratic structure as well as apply Islamic law to public policy. There are three main features of Islamic democracy.
  • Leaders are elected by the people.
  • Everyone is subject to Sharia law – including the leader.
  • Leaders must be committed to practicing ‘shura’, a special form of Prophet Muhammad’s practice.
Countries that meet these three characteristics are Afghanistan and Pakistan.
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Mithu Khan

I am a blogger and educator with a passion for sharing knowledge and insights with others. I am currently studying for my honors degree in mathematics at Govt. Edward College, Pabna.