Table of contents Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Appendices list of tasks person Rights Themes other languages sources



No one is born a great citizen, no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that proceed to evolve over a lifetime. Young civilization must be consisted of from birth.

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Kofi Annan

What is Democracy?

The indigenous democracy comes from the Greek indigenous "demos", an interpretation people, and "kratos" definition power; so democracy deserve to be believed of as "power the the people": a way of administer which counts on the will certainly of the people.

There space so plenty of different models of autonomous government about the human being that it is sometimes much easier to know the idea the democracy in terms of what it certainly is not. Democracy, then, is not autocracy or dictatorship, wherein one human rules; and it is no oligarchy, wherein a little segment of culture rules. Properly understood, democracy must not even be "rule of the majority", if that way that minorities" interests are ignored completely. A democracy, at the very least in theory, is federal government on behalf of every the people, follow to your "will".

Question: If democracy is federal government by the people, room there any type of real democracies in the world?

Why democracy?

The idea the democracy beginning its ethical strength – and also popular very nice – from two an essential principles:1. Individual autonomy: The idea that no-one need to be subject to rules which have actually been imposed by others. World should be able to control their own lives (within reason).2. Equality: The idea the everyone should have actually the same opportunity to affect the decision that affect people in society.

These ethics are intuitively appealing, and they aid to define why democracy is therefore popular. Of course we feel the is same that us should have actually as lot chance as anyone else to decide on usual rules!

The troubles arise once we take into consideration how the principles can be put right into practice, since we require a system for deciding exactly how to resolve conflicting views. Due to the fact that it offers a an easy mechanism, democracy has tendency to it is in "rule that the majority"; but rule that the bulk can mean that part people"s understand are never ever represented. A an ext genuine means of representing everyone"s interests is to use decision making by consensus, whereby the aim is come find usual points that interest.

Question: What space the benefits and defect of making decision by consensus, compared to using majority rule? just how are decisions made in your youth group?

The development of democracy

Ancient history

The ancient Greeks are attributed with producing the very very first democracy, although there were nearly certainly earlier examples the primitive democracy in other parts of the world. The Greek version was created in the fifth century BC, in the city that Athens. Amongst a sea the autocracies and also oligarchies – which to be the normal forms of federal government at the moment – Athenian democracy stood out.However, contrasted to exactly how we understand democracy today, the Athenian model had actually two crucial differences:

1. Theirs to be a type of straight democracy – in various other words, instead of electing representatives to administrate on the people"s behalf, "the people" themselves met, questioned questions of government, and also then enforced policy.

2. Such a device was feasible partly due to the fact that "the people" was a very limited category. Those who can participate directly were a small component of the population, since women, slaves, aliens – and also of course, youngsters – to be excluded. The numbers who participated were still far an ext than in a modern-day democracy: possibly 50,000 males engaged straight in politics, out of a population of roughly 300,000 people.

Question: What are the advantages and defect of straight democracy?

Democracy in the modern-day world

While democracies share usual features, there is no single model that democracy.UN Resolution top top promoting and also consolidating democracy (A/RES/62/7)

Today there room as countless different develops of democracy as there are autonomous nations in the world. No two equipment are exactly the same and no one system can be taken together a "model". There space presidential and parliamentary democracies, democracies that space federal or unitary, democracies that use a proportional poll system, and also ones that usage a majoritarian system, democracies which are additionally monarchies, and also so on.

One point that unites modern-day systems of democracy, and also which likewise distinguishes them indigenous the old model, is the usage of to represent of the people. Instead of taking part directly in legislation making, modern democracies use elections to choose representatives that are sent by the civilization to administrate on your behalf. Together a system is known as representative democracy. It deserve to lay some case to gift "democratic" since it is, at least to some degree, based on the two values above: equality of all (one human – one vote), and also the ideal of every separation, personal, instance to some degree of personal autonomy.

Question: What have to an chosen official carry out to make certain he or she is representing effectively those who chosen him or her?

"The ideal to vote is not a privilege. In the twenty-first century, the presumption in a autonomous State should be in favour of consist of ... Any departure native the principle of global suffrage risks undermining the democratic validity that the legislature therefore elected and the legislations which it promulgates."Judgement of the european Court (Hirst v. UK)

Improving democracy

People frequently talk about countries "becoming" democracies, as soon as they begin to have actually relatively totally free and open elections. Yet democracy has far more than simply elections, and also it really makes much more sense come think about the will certainly of the world idea, rather than about institutional or voting structures, as soon as we room trying to evaluate how democratic a nation is. Democracy is far better understood as something that we can always have much more – or less – of, fairly than something that either is, or is not.

Democratic systems can virtually always be made more inclusive, more reflective of much more people"s wishes, and an ext responsive to your influence. In other words, over there is room to improve the "people" component of democracy, by including more people in decision making; over there is also room to boost the "power" or "will" component of democracy, by providing the people much more real power. Struggles for democracy throughout background have normally focused on one or the other of these elements.

Today, in most countries of the world, women do have the vote but the struggle has actually been won only reasonably recently. New Zealand is said to be the first country in the people to have introduced universal suffrage, in 1893, although even here, women were only granted the appropriate to was standing for parliament in 1919. Plenty of countries have actually granted women the right to vote first of all, and also only numerous years later, have permitted them to was standing for elected office. Saudi Arabia has actually only granted women the power to poll in elections in 2011.Today also in established democracies, over there are various other sections of society, which commonly include immigrants, migrant workers, prisoners and children, who room not offered the appropriate to vote, even though many of them might pay taxes and also all are obliged to follow the regulations of the land.

Prisoners and also voting rightsPrisoners are permitted to vote in 18 european countries.Prisoners" civil liberties to poll are restricted in 20 countries, relying on such things as length of sentence or severity that the crime committed, or the kind of election.In 9 europe countries, prisoners are not allowed to vote at all.Prisoners" poll rights, Commons Library Standard keep in mind SN/PC/01764, last updated in 2012, the instance of Hirst v. The uk in 2005, the europe Court uncovered that the universal ban on detainees from poll in the UK was a violation of post 3, Protocol 1 that the european Convention, which states that:"The High Contracting parties undertake come hold complimentary elections at reasonable intervals by an enig ballot, under problems which will certainly ensure the freeexpression that the opinion that the people in the an option of the legislature."

Question: Can excluding particular sectors of culture from the democratic process ever be justified?

Democracy and participation

I don"t have any type of formula because that ousting a dictator or structure democracy. All I deserve to suggest is come forget around yourself and just think of her people. It"s constantly the human being who make points happen.Corazon Aquino

The most apparent ways to take part in federal government are come vote, or to stand for office and become a representative the the people. Democracy, however, is about far an ext than simply voting, and also there are countless other means of engaging with politics and government. The reliable functioning that democracy, in fact, relies on ordinary people using this other method as much as possible. If civilization only vote as soon as every 4 or 5 years – or do not vote at every – and also if they perform nothing rather in the interim, then federal government really can not be stated to be "by the people". It is tough to say that such a device is a democracy.You can read in more detail about ways the participating in the ar on Citizenship and also Participation. Right here are a few ideas – perhaps the minimum that might be needed for members of parliament to be able to act democratically, on your behalf:Stay informed around what is happening, what is being made decision "in the surname of the people", and in particular, around the decisions and actions gift taken through your own representative.Make her opinions well-known – either to your representatives in parliament, or come the media, or to groups working on particular issues. Without feedback from "the people", leaders can only lead according to their own will and priorities.Where decisions appear to be undemocratic, or versus human rights, or even when you just feel strongly around them, make efforts to obtain your voice heard, so that the policies might be reconsidered. The most effective method of law this is probably by joining v other world so that your voice is louder.Vote, when the opportunity arises. If human being do no vote, then members are effectively unaccountable.

Question: Have you ever before participated in any of these ways (or others)?

Democracy and Human Rights

The connection in between human rights and also democracy is deep, and also goes both ways: every is in some means dependent on the other, and also incomplete without the other.

Everyone has the ideal to take part in the federal government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.Article 21, part 1, UDHR

First that all, the values of equality and autonomy are likewise human rights values, and the right to take part in federal government is chin a person right. Short article 21 of the universal Declaration of person Rights (UDHR) tells us that "The will of the world shall it is in the basis of the government of government": therefore democracy is in fact the only kind of government which is constant with human rights.

However, a "democracy" is also incomplete without a thorough-going respect for human being rights. Taking component in government, in a genuine way, is practically impossible to execute without civilization having other an easy rights respected. Take into consideration the following, together examples:1. Freedom of thought, conscience and religion (UDHR, article 18). This is among the very first rights which are vital in a democracy: world need to be able to think freely, to organize whatever beliefs are crucial to them, without gift punished for doing so. Governments throughout history have make the efforts to limit this right since they room afraid that if world think around other develops of government, this will endanger the existing system. Therefore they have locked civilization away merely for reasoning the "wrong" thoughts. (Such civilization are recognized as prisoners of conscience.) However, a culture without a pluralism of views is not just intolerant; it also limits its own possibilities to construct in new and possibly boosted directions.

2. Freedom the Expression (UDHR, post 19). That is vital not simply to have the ability to think what you want, but additionally to be able to express the opinion the end loud, whatever that opinion may be. If world are prevent from stating their see with other people, or presenting castle in the media, how can they "take part" in government? their opinion has essentially been discounted from the possible alternatives under consideration.

3. Freedom of calm assembly and also association (UDHR write-up 20). This right allows you to discuss ideas through others who want to carry out so, to type interest teams or lobbying groups, or to gather with each other for the functions of protest versus decisions girlfriend disagree with. Perhaps such an activity is occasionally inconvenient because that governments; however it is crucial if various views room to it is in made known and taken right into account. And also that is part of what democracy is every about.

These are just three human being rights i beg your pardon are fundamentally bound up through the idea that democracy, but any kind of infringement that other human being rights will also impact the degree to which different world are able come take part in government. Poverty, bad health, or the absence of a home, have the right to all do it more difficult for who to have their voice heard, and diminish the influence of their choice, contrasted with others. Such infringements of rights nearly certainly make it impossible for the person pertained to to be elected to government office.

Question: How well are the 3 "democratic" legal rights (listed above) respected in her country?

Problems with democracy

Democracy doesn"t mean much if you are hungry or homeless, or have no health treatment or your youngsters can"t go to school; also if you have a vote, democracy is no effective.Susan George, chairman of ATTAC

Voter apathy

For a number of years, there has actually been concern around the standing of democracy, perhaps particularly in the more established democracies. Much of this is based upon the decreasing level of citizen participation in ~ elections, which show up to show a absence of interest and involvement ~ above the part of citizens. A short voter turnout calls into question the legitimacy the so-called democratically elected governments, which are, in part countries, actually chosen by a decimal of the complete electorate.

Elections and apathyTurnout in ~ elections to the europe Parliament has actually fallen every year because the an initial elections in 1979. In 2009, only 43% that the electorate supplied their vote, and also in part countries, turnout dropped as low as 34%.In national elections transparent Europe, turnout varieties from simply over 50% in some countries, to over 90% in others.Some countries, because that example, Greece and also Belgium in Europe, do voting compulsory. In such nations turnout is obviously much greater than the median for nations where poll is optional.

Question: What proportion of the electorate voted in her country"s many recent elections?

Although it is indeed a problem that human being are increasingly failing to poll in elections, there are some research studies which show that joining in various forms might actually it is in on the increase, for example, press groups, public initiatives, consultative organs, and so on. These forms of participation are simply as essential to the reliable functioning the democracy together voter turnout in ~ elections, if not much more so.

Democracy and civic participationThe so-called Arab Spring, whereby masses of world – countless of lock young – took to the roadways in order come express their dissatisfaction v the government, has presented a brand-new level of public participation in countries which have not traditionally been concerned as democracies. In Europe together well, even in the much more traditional democracies, "people power" appears to have found a new lease the life: students have protested in plenty of countries versus moves by federal governments to i have loaded fees ~ above education. Profession unions have lugged people top top the roadways to protest around the impact of financial cuts. In addition, autonomous groups of activists have actually invented new and an innovative forms that demonstrating against climate change, the power of big corporations, the tap the money of crucial state services, and also also versus oppressive steps of policing.

Rule of the Majority

There are two problems that are an ext intricately linked to the notion of representative democracy, and also these issue minority interests. The first problem is that decimal interests are often not represented through the electoral system: this may happen if their numbers space too few to with the minimum level essential for any type of representation. The 2nd problem is that even if their numbers are represented in the legislative body, castle will have actually a minority of representatives and these may not thus be able to summon up the vital votes to defeat the bulk representatives. Because that these reasons, democracy is often referred to together "rule that the majority".

Majority rule, if no backed increase by a guarantee of human rights for all, have the right to lead to decisions which are harmful come minorities, and the truth that this decisions are the "will of the people" can carry out no justification. The simple interests the minorities and also majorities have to be safeguarded in any type of democratic system by adherence to human rights principles, reinforced by an efficient legal mechanism, everything the will certainly of the bulk may be.

Question: If the bulk of the population is in favour that depriving details people their person rights, execute you think "the people should decide"?

The climb of nationalism

A related difficulty is the worrying trends across Europe towards support for too much right parties. This parties have regularly played on conference feelings, and also have target "non-indigenous" members that the population, specifically asylum seekers, refugees, and members of spiritual minorities, and also sometimes in violent ways. As a defence, such parties often appeal to your support amongst the population, and also the democratic principle that they represent the opinions the a big number of people. However, wherein a party advocates violence in any type of form, and also where it stops working to respect the human being rights of every member of the population, it has tiny right come appeal to democratic principles.

Depending on the level of the problem, and also the particular social context, it might be important to limit the right to flexibility of expression of particular groups, in spite of the importance of this appropriate to the democratic process. Many countries, because that example, have actually laws versus inciting gyeongju hatred. This is regarded by the european Court as an acceptable limitation of freedom of expression, justified by the need to protect the legal rights of other members of society, or the structure of culture itself.

Question: Is nationalism any type of different from racism?

Young People and also Democracy

Young human being often perform not even have the vote, for this reason how deserve to they it is in a part of the autonomous process?Many world would answer this question by saying the young civilization are not prepared to be component of the process, and that only once they room 18 (or in ~ whatever period their nation gives castle the vote) will certainly they be able to participate.

In fact, many young human being are politically an extremely active long before they gain the vote, and also in some ways, the influence of such task can be more powerful than the single vote they receive after that – and may or might not decision to usage – once every 4 or 5 years. Politicians are often anxious come appeal come the youth vote, so they might be more likely to listen to the comes to of young people.

Many young world are involved in ecological groups, or in other protest groups campaigning versus war, against corporate exploitation, or against child labour. Perhaps among the most important ways the young people can start to be involved in ar life and also political activity is at a neighborhood level: right here they will certainly be more aware the the certain issues that space of concern to them and those through whom they come into contact, and also they will be far better able to have a straight impact. Democracy does no only attend to national or international issues: it requirements to start in our very own neighbourhoods!Youth organization are one of the ways through i m sorry young human being experience and also practise democracy and, therefore, have crucial role in democracy, provided, that course, that they are independent and democratic in the way they function!

Question: If a 16-year-old is considered mature sufficient to marry and get a job, should he or she not have the ability to vote?

Work the the board of directors of Europe

We will strive because that our common goal of cultivating democracy and good governance the the highest possible quality, nationally, regionally and also locally for every our citizens.Action setup of the Warsaw Summit the the board of directors of Europe (2005)

Democracy is among the core values of the the supervisory board of Europe, along with human rights and also the preeminence of law. The board of directors of Europe has actually a variety of programmes and publications looking in ~ the development and future the democracy. In 2005, the Forum because that the Future that Democracy was created by the third Summit of top of State and Government of the council of Europe. The target of the Forum is come "strengthen democracy, politics freedoms and also citizens" participation with the exchange of ideas, information and examples of ideal practices". A meeting of the Forum takes place every year, and also brings together around 400 participants indigenous the 47 council of Europe member States and observer States.

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Support for advance and implementation of requirements for democracy is brought by the europe Commission for Democracy through legislation – likewise known as the Venice board of directors – which is the board of directors of Europe"s advisory body on constitutional matters. The commission has been specifically active in assisting in the drafting of new constitutions or laws on constitution courts, electoral codes, minority rights and also the legal framework relating to autonomous institutions.

In enhancement to this standard-setting work, the the supervisory board of Europe disclosure democracy and its values by program on democratic participation, education for autonomous citizenship and youth participation, because democracy is much an ext than vote in elections!