"DEMOCRACY: Democratic government and democratic ideals" A general overview of democracy, the contemporary understanding of democracy with reference to governmental issues and democratic ideals.

Essay by gul2511University, Master's January 2004

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Democracy, in Greek, is derived from demokratia, the root meanings of which are demos (people) and kratos (rule). Generally, it means a form of government in which, in contradistinction to monarchies and aristocracies, the people rule. There is no clear-cut, universal definition of democracy and most definitions of democracy focus on qualities, procedures and institutions. It is perhaps better conceived as two aspects of the same thing that can not be separated with clear lines. First, it is a practice or method of government, a set of forms and procedures. Second, it relates to ends rather than means, to an ideal or set of ideals.


Firstly, democracy is a form of government in which the people, either directly or indirectly, take part in governing. In practice it means following the view of majority. (Raphael, 1990) It is a system involving effective competition between political parties for positions of power.

In a democracy, there are regular and fair elections, in which all members of the population may take part.( Giddens,1999) Democratic governments can be divided into different types, based on a number of different distinctions. One such distinction is that between "direct" and "indirect" democracy.

A direct democracy is a political system in which all citizens are allowed to influence policy by means of a direct vote on any particular issue. However it is impracticable except in a very small polity. Even though it was practiced in Athens, it didn't involve all the people, only adult male citizens.

Mostly there is no country small enough to find direct democracy practical, so democratic governments develop established procedures and organizations to link public opinion to government policy. Elections, political parties, legislatures, and interest groups are all institutional mechanisms intended to keep governments responsive to the people. Indirect democracy is a broad...