Democracy in any country means the rule by elected representatives. It has been defined by former U.S. president Abraham Lincoln as:
“Government of the people, by the people, for the people”
Democracy rests on the principle of representation. The people elect their representatives by vote in an election. These representatives attend the legislature and act on behalf of the citizens. If the citizens are not satisfied with their representatives, they may not re-elect them in the next elections.
Aristotle defined democracy as:
“In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and will of the majority is supreme”
The word ‘Democracy’ is formed from two words ‘Demos’ which means ‘People’ and ‘Kratos’ meaning ‘Force, power’. As already defined in the introduction democracy is a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. 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 objective of their political activities is thus the welfare and betterment of the poor people of the country who elect them as their representatives and to whom they are answerable for their duties and responsibilities.
In past times democracy was practiced in countries like Greece, Rome and Sub-continent. This democratic form of government led Greece and Rome to become great nations. Since the early times, many countries across the world 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 has both merits and demerits. Some countries flourish in democracies and some fail in democracies. Democracy gives equal rights for all people, political freedom, and freedom of choice. Corruption, large number of political parties and difficult system of government are some disadvantages of democracy.
Now if we have a glance on the history there are many causes of failure of democracy which includes,
- Lack of Democratic culture
- Parliamentary form of government
- Election arrangement
MERITS OF DEMOCRACY:
The system of Democracy has the following merits:
1. It gives equal opportunities to make progress to all the people.
2. It is above any kind of undue favor to any religion, caste, creed or color.
3. The people are supreme and cannot be exploited by any dictator or group of persons.
4. It gives freedom of expression to the masses. It develops the intellectual level of the country.
5. In a democratic country a citizen is free to follow ‘ any kind of religion, trade etc. This helps the citizens to develop their inherent capabilities which contribute to the progress of the country.
Demerits of the Democracy:
1. Government by popular majorities means rule by the average man, who is generally unintelligent, controlled in his conduct more by emotions than by reason and of limited knowledge. What standard of judgment can make us believe the opinion of 51 per cent of the people to be wiser than 49 percent?
2. It is necessary to make long-range plans and policies to achieve any great success. But in a democratic system the representatives of the people are bound to face the electorate after 5 years. The general public does not want to make sacrifices for the good results, which will be available only in future. So a country cannot make real progress by following democratic system.
3.The capitalists, industrialists, bosses of mafia type groups and religious leaders play a dominant part in influencing voters in general elections. So honest and capable leaders do not get an opportunity to form the government.
4. Democracy needs educated, enlightened and patriotic people to make it a success. So in a country where the percentage of literacy is less than 50, a democratic system is useless and harmful for the welfare of the people.
In a democratic system of government, the principle of balance of power is used and consequently legislature, judiciary and executive—the three branches of government—are separated. So the power of the government is limited by the laws of the constitution. It helps in smooth running of the system. But only a state of literate, well-disciplined and patriotic people can enjoy the real fruits of Democracy.