The preceding paper describes democracy in detail. It discusses different forms of democracy. The difference between liberal democracy and democracy has also been analyzed in this paper. It puts light on the seven institutional guarantees of liberal democracy and examines each of the institutional guarantees in detail.
Most of the people around the globe are familiar to the word democracy but its meaning is often misunderstood by the ton at occasions when marshal law administrators, single-party governments and military groups acquire the support of millions of people by claiming that they are a democratic government. The word democracy has been derived from the Greek word ‘demos’ which means people. Democracy can be defined as a form of government in which the supreme power belongs to the people of the nation. In some forms of democracy this power is exercised, directly, by the people of the nation. In other forms, however, this power is being exercised by the agents that are being elected by the general public. According to Abraham Lincoln, democracy can be defined as ‘the government of the people, by the people, for the people.’ (Cincotta , 2006)
The word democracy is often used in place of freedom, but these two words are not synonyms. Although, democracy consists of ideas and theories regarding freedom but it also consists of rules, procedures and policies that have been carved through history. Democracy, therefore, can be defined as an institutionalized form of freedom. (Cincotta, 2006)
Types of Democracy:
The five major types of democracy are as follows:
This form of democracy does not advocate the selection of rulers by the general public or the ruled instead it denies the concept that there is any difference between the ruler and the ruled. In such a form all the adult citizens get together to shape the laws and policies for the nation. In other words, we can say that the government and the general public become one. (“Democracy,”)
It is the form of democracy in which the general public, not just the political personalities, deeply get engaged in the process of public decision making. The citizens also take part in the problem solving processes. The citizens, who are the representatives of a wide variety of stakeholders, who are generally trained by professional experts come together to discuss various facts and concepts from the diversified point of views. They talk to each other and consider various options that are presented to them. They also critically analyze the tension that underlies most of the decisions related to public issues. In the end, the citizens as well as the politicians reach a conclusion or a decision that is being made by both public and political opinion. Most of the countries, nowadays, are trying to employ the deliberative form of democracy. (Carcasson & Sprain, 2010)
In this form of democracy people elect representatives who rule them. Most of the nations in today’s world are representative democracies. In such nations, a flag represents a nation, a lawyer represents a client and elected politicians represent the nation on international and national levels. The rulers or the representatives allow the general public to have considerable influence or control over them. According to Joseph Schumpeter, representative democracy gives the general public the right to accept or refuse the person who would rule them. (“Democracy,”)
Liberal democracy can also be defined as limited government. It limits the authority of the government in order to secure the liberty and the freedom of the public. It also seeks to defend the rights of the minority and to protect the minority from the major danger that is being by democracy, the tyranny and oppression of the majority. This form of government can be defined as the rule of the law rather than the men. In this form of government the rulers are subjected to follow the constitutions and laws. These constitutions consist of rules regarding individual rights. If a citizen feels that he is being exploited by the government then he can raise a dispute in the judicial institutions. (“Democracy,”)
Illiberal or Electoral Democracy
In this type of democracy, the leaders or rulers pay no or very little attention to the rights of the individual citizens. The process of democracy is limited to the elections. And in some cases the elections are also disrupted by the influence of the rulers and they may turn the election process in favor of their party. (“Democracy,”)
Difference between Democracy and Liberal Democracy
Democracy or presidential form of government can be defined as a form of government where strong decisions are being made immediately in a short period of time and are implemented as well. It is a form of government where the voice of people is valued more than the freedom of the government. According to Schmitt, liberal democracy can be identified with ‘plurality, compromise and indecision.’ In such a system the freedom of individuals is valued a lot. The decision making process in this form is very lengthy and weak. The decisions made in this form of government, are temporary and do not provide a permanent solution for any problem. Nowadays, in the parliamentary or a liberal form of government the real decisions are being made by the executive committee members behind the closed doors and the parliament is being treated as a debate house. This indicates that the present form of liberal democracy is moving away from its basic objective, public decision making. In a democracy, unlike liberal democracy where public decision making is practiced, there is a set of rules and regulations which is being followed to make all the important decisions. According to Schmitt’s theoretical approach, a democracy may exist in a real world but it is nearly impossible for a liberal democracy to exist and sustain in the real world. (Stewart, 2002)
Institutional Guarantees Provided by Liberal Democracy
For the liberal democracy to exist, it must fulfill the following institutional guarantees;
Freedom to Form and Join Organizations
All the individuals have complete freedom to join the organization (political) of their choice or they may form their own political organization. For example, the United States of America allows its citizens to freely form and join political organizations. There are about 29 minor and 5 major political parties in the United States of America.
Freedom of Expression:
All the citizens of a liberal democracy have a right to express their views freely. For example, public demonstrations in different democratic states clearly represent the fact that the general public in democratic states has a complete right to express their views.
This condition provides all individuals the right to cast the vote and to elect the government. The liberal democracy, for example, provides men and women an equal right to cast the vote whereas; in the previous times women were being neglected in the case of casting votes.
The Right to Run for an Office
This means that the individual citizens as well as the political candidates have a right to run for a political office in a liberal democracy. For example, in different states many private candidates run for different offices, such as Ross Perrot, who ran for US presidential elections in 1992.
Right of Political Leaders to Compete for Vote and Support
A liberal democracy allows all the political candidates to compete with each other in legal ways to get their voted and support. For example, different political leaders arrange mass political campaigns in order to convince the people to vote for them.
Availability of Alternative Information
It is the right of the people to have complete information about all the alternative options available for them. The liberal governments, for example, provide all possible information and complete profiles (including their asset count, net income) of the potential candidates to the general public.
Free and Fair Elections
It is the responsibility of the government in a liberal democracy to conduct free and fair elections so that the deserving candidate may win and the people may get what they want. For instance, the government posts military officials at various polling stations so that the elections may be conducted peacefully. In addition to that, various policies have been designed by a number of governments in order to avoid vote tracking.
The increase in transition, from an authoritarian form of government, to democracy has led towards an increase in the number of corrupt governments and system failures. In a survey conducted in third world countries, it was reported that the majority of the people (about 74 percent) said that democracy is the best form of government but they (about 55 percent) also indicated that they would not mind having an authoritarian leader if that would lead towards better economic conditions. Democracy has its pros and cons, but if managed properly, this form of government can bring the best out of a nation and its people. (Howard, 2011)