Democracy In The Contemporary World

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02 Democracy In The Contemporary World


Democracy is a system of government formed by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.

Military Coup of 1973

  • Salvador Allende, the founder leader of the Socialist Party of Chile and the President of Chile in 1970, was opposed by landlords, the church and political parties.
  • Under the leadership of General Augusto Pinochet the military decided to overthrow him.
  • On 11th September 1973, they bombed President Allende’s house thus killing him.
  • Pinochet became the President of the country and ruled it for the next 17 years under a military dictatorship.
  • In 1988, Pinochet decided to hold a referendum in which the people of Chile voted against him.
  • Since then Chile has held four presidential elections in which different political parties have participated.
  • Michelle Bachelet was elected President of Chile in January 2006.

Democracy in Poland

  • On 14 August 1980, the workers of Lenin Shipyard in the city of Gdansk went on a strike.
  • Lech Walesa led the workers who demanded the right to form independent trade unions, the release of political prisoners and an end to censorship on press.
  • A 21-point agreement with the government ended their strike.
  • A new trade union called Solidarity was formed which revealed widespread corruption and mismanagement in the government.
  • Under the martial law imposed by General Jaruzelski in December 1981, thousands of Solidarity members were put in prison. Once more strikes were organised by Solidarity.
  • In April 1989 an agreement for free elections was signed in which Solidarity contested all the 100 seats of the Senate and won 99 of them.
  • In October 1990, Poland had its first presidential elections in which more than one party could contest.
  • Walesa was elected President of Poland.

Two Features of Democracy

  • Only leaders elected by people should rule the country.
  • People have the freedom to express views, freedom to organise and freedom to protest.

Phases in the Expansion of Democracy:

The Beginning

  • In Britain, through the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries, series of political events reduced the power of monarchy and feudal lords and the right to vote was granted to more and more people.
  • The British colonies in North America declared themselves independent in 1776.
  • The United States of America was formed and they adopted a democratic constitution in 1787.
  • By 1900 New Zealand was the only country where every adult had voting right.

End of Colonialism

  • India attained Independence in 1947 and became a democratic nation.
  • Ghana was among the first countries in Africa to gain independence in 1957.

Recent Phase

  • Poland became free from the control of the Soviet Union during 1989-90.
  • Pakistan and Bangladesh made a transition from army rule to democracy.
  • Nepal emerged as a democratic republic after abolishing the monarchy.
  • Myanmar gained freedom in 1948 and became a democracy which ended in 1962 with a military coup.
  • Finally, under the leadership of Suu Kyi, a democratic republic was established in 2015.

International Organisations:

  • The United Nations (UN) is a global association of nations of the world to help cooperation in international law, security, economic development and social equity. The UN Secretary General is its chief administrative officer.
  • The UN Security Council, an organ of the UN, is responsible for maintaining peace and security among countries. It can put together an international army and take action against the wrongdoer.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) lends money to governments when they need. The World Bank also gives loans to the governments. Before lending they ask the concerned government to show all its accounts and direct it to make changes in its economic policy.

Promotion of Democracy

  • Recently, the United States of America have taken on the task of democracy promotion in the rest of the world.
  • Iraq became independent from British rule in 1932.
  • After becoming the president in 1979, Saddam ran a dictatorial government.
  • The US and its allies, alleged that Iraq possessed weapons which posed threat to the world.
  • But when a UN team went to Iraq, no such weapons were found.
  • Still the US and its allies invaded Iraq, occupied it and removed Saddam Hussein from power in 2003 thus, installing an interim government.
  • The war against Iraq was not authorised by the UN Security Council.
  • Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, said that the US war on Iraq was illegal.

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