Democracy

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Democracy has become the most widespread political form of government during the past decade, after the fall of all its alternatives. During the second part of the 20th century, the 3 main enemies of democracy, namely communism, fascism and Nazism, lost most of their power and influence. However, democracy is still only to be found in less than half of this world's countries. China with a fifth of the total population "had never experienced a democratic government" and Russia still doesn't have a well established democracy. By adopting a democratic perspective, 3 types of governments emerge, non-democratic, new democracies, and old democracies, and all have a different challenge to overcome: either to become democratic, to "consolidate" the existing democracy or to "deepen" it. Democracy is not, however, a new concept. Although put into practice only 2 centuries ago, the idea of the rule of the people s much older than that, having been discussed and partly implemented in both ancient Greece and ancient Rome. Shrouded in mystery, the invention of the concept cannot be traced back to a certain time in the past, because, for example, current historians could not properly analyse the ‘government' form of the primitive nomadic tribes, existent before recorded history. Favourable conditions for the development of some type of democracy reappeared around 500 B.C.E. in Europe, on the Mediterranean coast and later in the north. In 507 B.C.E. Athens, the most important city-state in the Greek peninsula, "adopted a system of popular government" (Dahl: 1998: 11), which was to last until the Macedonian invasion two centuries later. The term democracy has its roots in the Greek language, meaning rule (kratos) of the peo... ... middle of paper ... ...l assemblies where the representatives were elected, were the foundations of modern democracy. Although many criteria related to democracy had been fulfilled, some key issues were still missing. The differences between different social classes, rich-poor, men-women, free-slaves, continued to exist. Secondly the parliament had insignificant power, at start, in comparison to the monarch. Thirdly the representatives were elected only by 5 per cent of the population, thus making them not very representative for the people. Lastly, the lack of opposition, the meddling of the Crown in elections and such, the restricted freedom of speech conclude the argument that democracy was not yet fully implemented. Democracy is "a bit chancy", and only by understanding what democracy is and what it needs, can action be taken to preserve it and even change it for the best.

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