- THE WORD DEMOCRACY
“In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because ther are more of them, and will of the majority is supreme” Aristotle
Democracy is a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. Abraham Lincoln described democracy as:
“The government of the people, by the people and for the people”. It means that in democratic form of government common man plays the pivotal role. The aristocracy, the land lords and politicians have to work according to the wishes of the common man. The main object of their political activities is thus the welfare, betterment and amelioration of the poor masses of the country who elect them as their representatives and to whom they are answerable for their duties and responsibilities.
In ancient ages it was also practiced in countries like Greece, Rome and Sub-continent. We are informed of Greek and Roman senators in those times who always dwelt by the majority decision. This led them to become great nations which were looked upto for intelligence and way of life. Since the end of cold war, many countries across the glove have chosen democracy as the form of government. Today most of the world’s powerful countries, international organizations and political science experts see democracy as a natural choice in comparison to dictatorship.
Democracy is a Greek invention created by some of the ancient Greek city states in particular Athens. Athenian democracy was a direct democracy. Citizens not including women children, slaves, resident foreigners i.e., the majority of the population-gathered together to discuss and decide on the policies of the state. Within this minority participation, equality and freedom was unrivaled. The word ‘Democracy’ combines the elements ‘Demos’ which means ‘People’ and ‘Kratos’ meaning ‘Force, power’. In the words ‘Monarchy’ means ‘rule, leading or being first’. It is possible that the term ‘Democracy’ was coined by its detractors. Who rejected the possibility of the term was adopted whole heartedly by Athenian democrats. People in the ancient times wondered if the Athens could survive this devastating lifestyle. And now around the globe many countries have chosen democracy as the form of government.
Talking about the merits or advantages of democracy I would say that democracy can provide for changes in government without violence. In a democracy power can be transformed from one part to another by means of elections. The jurisdiction of the citizens of a nation determines its ruling authorities. Moreover, any government is bound by an election term after which it has to compete against other parties to regain authority. This system prevents monopoly of the ruling authority. This brings in a feeling of obligation towards the citizens. The ruling authorities owe their success in the elections to the citizens of the nation. This results in a feeling of gratefulness towards the people. It can serve as their motivation to work for the people for it is the common masses that have complete power over choosing their government. Another important advantage of democracy is that the people gain a sense of participation in the process of choosing their government. They get the opportunity to voice their opinions by means of electoral votes. This gives rise to a feeling of belonging in the mind of the people towards their society.
Democracy does also have its demerits. In a democratic nation it’s the citizens who hold the right to elect their representatives and their governing authorities. According to a common observation, not all the citizens are fully aware of the political scenario in their country. The common masses may not be aware of the political issues in society. This may result in people making the wrong choices during election. As the government is subject to change after election term, the authorities may work with a short-term focus. As they have to face an election after the completion of each term, they may lose focus on working for the people and rather focus on winning elections. Another disadvantage is that mobs can influence people. Citizens may vote in favor of a part under the influence of the majority. Compelled or influenced by the philosophies of those around, a person may not voice his/her true opinion.
While democracy today appears to be the most popular choice when it comes to choosing a form of government, it brings with it many complications that would be absent in a dictatorship. When a part is in majority it becomes difficult in a democracy to force unacceptable principles down the throat of the public. When this is made possible, it leads to outrage. Making bold decisions for long term prosperity, executing controversial decisions and making better choices for the decisions and making better choices for the common good can be very complicated processes in a democratic form of government. In Pakistan sectarianism, illiteracy, bribery system and poor economic condition have deteriorated our social and political structure. Most of our so-called politicians and law makers are illiterate. Their pockets are full of money but their minds are devoid of wisdom. The law makers are the law breakers. They themselves are involved in such heinous crimes then from whom should we expect a democratic and corruption free government and governance?
Role of Political Parties in a Democracy
Political parties can be termed as associations formed by citizens that enable individuals to have influence on government affairs and processes. Political parties therefore provide effective means through which individuals express themselves and make decisions on appropriate system of government. Political parties plays various roles in the society that includes offering individuals with alternatives and freedom of choice, check on the excesses of governments, give important information to citizens and ensure that the government fulfills its promises.
The first role of political parties is to ensure that individuals have alternatives and freedom of choice in a country. This role is accomplished through provision of opportunities for individuals to choose the best party and candidates that will serve their interest. This is ensured through competition by different political parties and allowing voters to elect best leaders as well as choose the best party. In a democratic society, this role is transparent and allows all the political parties to sell their policies to citizens through a free and fair process.
The second role of political parties in a democratic government is to check the excesses in the government by ensuring that the incumbent government does not abuse its powers. This role is played through constant monitoring of daily government activities to ensure that they are in accordance to the laws and regulations. This can be accomplished through making of appropriate policies in parliament so as to ensure that governments are able to effectively coordinate important activities such as operations of ministries, government spending and budget and public appointments among others.
The third role played by political parties is to provide important information to citizens. Political parties through their elected members make policies and legislations in a country. It is therefore the duty of political parties to inform citizens of various policies and regulations in a country. This can be achieved through briefing citizens on certain policies, regulations, government plans and any other matter of national interest. This role ensures that citizens are aware of all the important government and political operations in the country.
The last important role of political parties in a democratic government is to ensure that the incumbent government fulfills it promises to citizens. This role is accomplished through regular evaluation of the government performance based on the promise made to public. This requires political parties to keep constant pressure on government and ensure that they fulfill their promises.
These four roles are important for all political parties in a democratic society. The roles ensure that governments are able to meet their promises and deliver the necessary services to citizens. They also ensure that all government policies and regulations are in accordance to the stipulated law. Hence it can be argued that political parties are essential in the promotion of democratic governments in any society.