What is a democratic government?

What Does Democratic Government Mean

We explain what a democratic government is, what types exist and what their characteristics are. Also, how it works.

Democracy is considered in the West the best form of government.

What is a democratic government?

A government democracy is a model of administration of the State that meets the minimum requirements to be considered democratic . It ie when the power policy is managed based on the principle of the sovereignty of peoples .

In a democratic government, the people can decide how they want to be governed, within a minimum framework of guarantees that ensure freedom , equality and justice . Democracy is an extremely ancient system of government, the foundations of which were laid by the Greeks during classical times. It reappeared in the West after the fall of the Old Regime and the return of the Republic as a model of state organization. At present, it is the method of majority government in the world . However, it does not always operate in the same way in all countries, nor does it always work perfectly.

In fact, of the 165 member nations of the United Nations (UN), the Democracy Index prepared by the Intelligence Unit of The Economist distinguishes four blocks of countries, ordered according to what so democratic is his method of government:

  • Full democracies (20 countries, 12% of the total)
  • Imperfect democracies (55 countries, 32.9% of the total)
  • Hybrid regimes (39 countries, 23.4% of the total)
  • Authoritarian regimes (53 countries, 31.7% of the total)

In any case, democratic governments have brought to their peoples some of the most flourishing stages of prosperity, freedom, and social and cultural advancement. In the West they are considered the best possible method of government, and are encouraged by various international and regional organizations. See also: Forms of government

Characteristics of a democratic government

The minimum characteristics of a democratic government are:

  • There is a rule of law . This means that all citizens are equal before the law , which is applied with equal criteria without discriminating in any way between citizens, always guided by the content expressed in the laws and in the National Constitution.
  • There are reliable choices. The political authorities (those of the executive and legislative power , generally) are freely elected by the people, through universal, secret and legitimate elections, without manipulation or coercion of the vote from any party.
  • There is independence of powers . There cannot be a democracy without independent public powers that monitor each other and allow the political debate to take place in an organized and healthy manner, without any state authority imposing itself on the others and disposing of the State at will, as in the case of the autocracies.
  • Universal human rights are respected . The State guarantees the defense and protection of the inalienable minimum rights of every living human being , such as the right to life , identity , freedom, work, etc.
  • Freedom of expression is respected . Although it is included in fundamental human rights, we set it apart because freedom of expression or of the press is what allows independent media to challenge the government and inform the public about what is happening, free from censorship and retaliation towards journalists.

How does a democratic government work?

Different political opinions are expressed in a democracy.

Democratic governments function on the basis of representation and political participation . National sovereignty, that is, the ability to make fundamental national decisions, resides in democracies in the total population (“the people”). The different political opinions and tendencies of thought must be able to express themselves and take part in the debate on how to administer the public res , that is, the public affairs, the republic. Thus, the plebiscitary, electoral or other consultation mechanisms are the mechanisms that democracy uses to know the opinion of the sovereign and to elect the officials and representatives in charge of executing it. The vision that obtains the most popular support, in accordance with the country's electoral laws, will prevail . However, in democracies not everything can be put to a vote: nothing that goes against democracy itself, or against the fundamental rights of anyone, or that violates the rule of law, can be put to a vote. To guarantee said operation, the public powers enjoy autonomy and authority:

  • The executive branch . It is the one that represents the leadership of the State, and proposes the government plan to the country to march towards the common welfare .
  • The legislative power . He is in charge of drafting, modifying or repealing the laws, and of supervising the action of the executive. In addition, it usually consists of a parliament in which the different political forces and political parties that make life in the country have a voice.
  • The judiciary . He is in charge of interpreting the laws and ensuring compliance with them, as well as defending the guiding principles of the Constitution. They are the only public power not elected by vote, but by appointment of the legislative power.

The public powers, in this way, are made up of representatives who have a certain margin of authority to decide on behalf of the people. Depending on the model of democracy, this representative character will be greater or lesser, and the people will be more or less involved in the final decision-making on the conduct of the State.

Types of democracy

Direct democracy was created in ancient Greece.

There are two types of democracy, according to their way of consulting the sovereign:

  • Direct or participatory democracy. Similar to the implementation in ancient Athens , it is the one that prefers direct consultation with the people to make important decisions , through plebiscites and referendums, in which the people themselves also get involved. Thus, it requires a greater margin for popular participation and may take longer, since constant consultations consume time , effort and resources.
  • Indirect or representative democracy. It is one in which the people elect their representatives so that they, in turn, make political decisions on their behalf. In other words, they transfer part of their sovereignty to these representatives, thus acting indirectly in the conduct of the State.

On the other hand, it is possible to speak of parliamentary democracies , when the largest share of political power falls on the legislative, and presidential democracies when the largest share of political power falls on the figure of the president (the executive). More in: Types of democracy

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