Democracy is a form of government where power is vested in its citizens, exercised by them directly or by their directly elected representatives. This is a strongly held ideal in most developed societies, having become synonymous with ‘just’ and many feel the need to protect it.
Democracy as a political system, although exercised in a variety of different ways, has four key elements:¹
- A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections
- The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civil life
- Protection of the human rights of all citizens
- A rule of law, in which the laws and procedure apply equally to all citizens
In a democratic society, elections are a means for ‘the people’ to choose their leaders and hold them accountable for policy and conduct. This government is based on the consent of the governed where, at least theoretically, the people are considered sovereign.¹ It is integral that citizens are free to hold their government accountable and have the right to speak against them. For these elections to be considered free and fair, they must be administered by a neutral and professional body that treats all political parties and candidates equally, allowing the parties to campaign freely and the voters to vote in secret, free of intimidation of violence.¹
In a nation that considers itself a democracy, voting is considered a civic duty of citizens. All citizens have the right to run for public office and are encouraged to participate freely, to the extent they wish in public life. There are many avenues for citizens to do this.
1.Diamond, Larry. What is Democracy? Retrieved from http://www.stanford.edu/~ldiamond/iraq/WhaIsDemocracy012004.htm
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