Challenges to Democracy

01 Challenges to Democracy

Thinking about challenges

  1. Foundation challenge:
    • In 2000, one fourth of the countries faced the foundational challenge of making the transition to democracy and then instituting democratic government.
  2. Challenge of expansion: This involves applying the basic principle of democratic government across all the regions, different social groups and various institutions in most countries that are already democracies, like India and USA.
  3. Deepening of democracy: This involves strengthening of the institutions and practices of democracy in such a way that people can realise their expectations of democracy.

Thinking about political reforms

  • Legal-constitutional changes by themselves cannot overcome challenges to democracy.
  • Legal changes must carefully analyse the results it will have on politics, else they may be counter-productive at times.
  • Democratic reforms should be brought about principally through political practice which leads political reforms to focus on ways to strengthen democratic practice.
  • Any proposal for political reforms should think about who will implement it and how, in addition to thinking about what a good solution is.

Redefining democracy

  • Democracy has been defined as a form of government in which the rulers are elected by the people.
  • In addition, some qualifications include
    • the rulers elected by the people must take all the major decisions;
    • elections must offer a choice and fair opportunity to the people to change the current rulers;
    • this choice and opportunity should be available to all the people on an equal basis; and
    • the exercise of this choice must lead to a government limited by basic rules of the constitution and citizens’ rights.
  • However, various aspects of democratic government and politics have gone beyond the definition:
    • Democratic rights are not limited to the right to vote, stand in elections and form political organisations. There are some social and economic rights that a democracy should offer to its citizens.
    • Power sharing is the spirit of democracy and power sharing between governments and social groups is necessary in a democracy.
    • Democracy cannot be the brute rule of majority and respect for minority voice is necessary for democracy. Eliminating discrimination based on caste, religion and gender is important in a democracy.
    • Finally, there are some outcomes that one can expect from a democracy.

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