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    ibtihel

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    Democracy

    Post by ibtihel on Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:08 pm

    n political theory, Democracy describes a small number of related forms of government and also a political philosophy. A common feature of democracy as currently understood and practiced is competitive elections. Competitive elections are usually seen to require freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and some degree of rule of law. Civilian control of the military is often seen as necessary to prevent military dictatorship and interference with political affairs. In some countries, democracy is based on the philosophical principle of equal rights.

    Majority rule is a major principle of democracy, though many democratic systems do not adhere to this strictly - representative democracy is more common than direct democracy, and minority rights are often protected from what is sometimes called "the tyranny of the majority". Popular sovereignty is common but not universal motivating philosophy for establishing a democracy.

    No universally accepted definition of 'democracy' exists, especially with regard to the elements in a society which are required for it.[1] Many people use the term "democracy" as shorthand for liberal democracy, which may include additional elements such as political pluralism, equality before the law, the right to petition elected officials for redress of grievances, due process, civil liberties, human rights, and elements of civil society outside the government. In the United States, separation of powers is often cited as a supporting attribute, but in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, the dominant philosophy is parliamentary sovereignty (though in practice judicial independence is generally maintained). In other cases, "democracy" is used to mean direct democracy.

    Though the term "democracy" is typically used in the context of a political state, the principles are also applicable to private organizations and other groups. Democracy has its origins in Ancient India, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Europe, and North and South America [2] but modern conceptions are significantly different. Democracy has been called the "last form of government" and has spread considerably across the globe.[3] Suffrage has been expanded in many jurisdictions over time from relatively narrow groups (such as wealthy men of a particular ethnic group), but still remains a controversial issue with regard disputed territories, areas with significant immigration, and countries that exclude certain demographic groups.
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    ibtihel

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    Re: Democracy

    Post by ibtihel on Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:09 pm

    Forms of democracy




    Representative

    Representative democracy involves the selection of government officials by the people being represented. The most common mechanisms involve election of the candidate with a majority or a plurality of the votes. Representatives may be elected by a particular district (or constituency), or represent the entire electorate proportionally proportional systems, with some using a combination of the two. Some representative democracies also incorporate elements of direct democracy, such as referendums. A characteristic of representative democracy is that while the representatives are elected by the people to act in their interest, they retain the freedom to exercise their own judgment as how best to do so.

    Parliamentary democracy

    Parliamentary democracy where government is appointed by parliamentary representatives as opposed to a 'presidential rule' by decree dictatorship. Under a parliamentary democracy government is exercised by delegation to an executive ministry and subject to ongoing review, checks and balances by the legislative parliament elected by the people. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

    Liberal democracy

    A Liberal democracy is a representative democracy in which the ability of the elected representatives to exercise decision-making power is subject to the rule of law, and usually moderated by a constitution that emphasizes the protection of the rights and freedoms of individuals, and which places constraints on the leaders and on the extent to which the will of the majority can be exercised against the rights of minorities (see civil liberties).

    Direct Democracy

    Direct democracy is a political system where the citizens participate in the decision making personally, contrary to relying on intermediaries or representatives. The supporters of direct democracy argue that democracy is more than merely a procedural issue (i.e., voting).[15] Most direct democracies to date have been weak forms, relatively small communities, usually city-states. However, some see the extensive use of referendums, as in California, as akin to direct democracy in a very large polity with more than 20 million in California, 1898-1998 (2000) (ISBN 0-8047-3821-1). In Switzerland, five million voters decide on national referendums and initiatives two to four times a year; direct democratic instruments are also well established at the cantonal and communal level.
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    ibtihel

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    Re: Democracy

    Post by ibtihel on Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:12 pm

    What is democracy?". This is a simple sounding question that proves difficult to answer. Dictionary and encyclopedia definitions (see dictionary) provide a first impression. Difficulties are caused, firstly, by the fact that it is possible to distinguish between two approaches at a very fundamental level, namely between the identity and competition theories (see theory). Secondly, differing forms of democracy have developed during the course of history and it is these forms that we will be addressing here. Another page attempts to explain how democratic systems can be differentiated from totalitarian and authoritarian systems (differentiation) There is also a glossary available that defines the main types in brief. Two illustrations highlight the main differences of the various types:
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    ibtihel

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    Re: Democracy

    Post by ibtihel on Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:13 pm

    Buchauszug
    Parliamentary and presidential systems of government

    The people do not exercise power directly in representative forms of democracy such as the parliamentary and presidential systems of government. Instead, power is transferred to state bodies, which, in turn, perform the acts of state in the name of the people. The British parliament in London is regarded as the home of the most common type of constitutional system - the parliamentary system of government. While most other western European countries have this form of political system, democracy in the United States is based on a presidential system.

    When making a comparison between the presidential and parliamentary systems of government, the following formal differences can be noted:
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    The American president and the members of Congress are elected during separate elections. In a parliamentary system of government, however, the government and members of parliament are elected in a single election, even when the possibility of differing coalitions exists.
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    Parliament elects the government in a parliamentary system; parliament also has the power to vote the government out of office. Under normal circumstances the American Congress does not have the power to remove the president from office. Congress cannot force the president out of office, for instance, because it holds a different opinion or because the ruling majority in Congress has changed. Only if the president commits a criminal offence, can the House of Representatives and Congress force the president out of office following a vote on impeachment and a two-thirds-majority vote respectively.
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    This means, however, that the president lacks an important means of keeping discipline in Congress. The president is unable - unlike the British prime minister - to dissolve parliament and order new elections.
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    While the British prime minister - in the the classic parliamentary system of government - is also a member of parliament, the American constitution demands incompatibility between government office and parliamentary mandate. The president and the members of his/her government - with the exception of the vice-president, who is also the chairman of Congress - cannot be members of Congress.
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    The job of the executive is split in a parliamentary system of government. Representative duties of state are performed by the state president or monarch. The real power of government is reserved for the head of government, that is, the prime minister, chancellor or premier. In the United States, in contrast, the president is both head of state and head of government.
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    The president of the United States is formally - but not in constitutional reality - prevented from introducing legislative initiatives. The president is only permitted to veto legislative initiatives from Congress. The president's veto, however, can be overruled with a two-thirds-majority vote in both houses of Congress. In a parliamentary system the government may introduce legislation and sometimes has (...) an absolute right to veto expenditure laws.
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    ibtihel

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    Re: Democracy

    Post by ibtihel on Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:14 pm

    Buchauszug
    Differing kinds of democracy

    Democratic systems of government in the present day

    A distinction has to be made (...) between the representative (parliamentary and presidential) forms of democracy and those that combine individual elements of both the representative and direct forms of democracy.

    Representative democracy

    Germany, like the UK, is a representative parliamentary democracy. Its constitution does not (...) contain plebiscite elements (...).

    Presidential democracy: United States of America

    The US serves as the best example of a presidential democracy. It is characterized by a clear division between parliament and government. The president is head of the executive and is voted into power during elections held separately to those for parliament. The president is not a member of parliament. In the same way as parliament cannot vote the president out of office, so the president cannot dissolve parliament. Only if the president were to commit certain crimes would it be possible for him/her to be removed from office during an impeachment process. Only one US president has been subjected to an impeachment hearing during the 19th century. Richard Nixon resigned from office in 1978 before a hearing was invoked. This clear division between the government and parliament means that the president cannot rely on a constant majority. Majorities are formed in parliament from different sides of the House through negotiation and influence and they come together to pass legislation. A readiness for compromise and the ability to reach agreement between all bodies are essential for this system to work (...).


    Types of direct democracy: Switzerland

    Switzerland is often held up as an example of direct democracy. On taking a closer look, however, this claim cannot be maintained; and this despite the fact that direct democracy does play a large role, especially in the form of the canton referendums. The constitution of the Swiss Confederation was written in 1848 (revised in 1874) and recognizes the Federal Assembly as the highest-ranking state body. The Assembly is made up of the National Assembly (lower house) and the Council of States (representatives of the cantons). The Federal Council (Budesrat) - the government - is elected by the Federal Assembly for a four-year term. Its position vis-à-vis the Federal Assembly is not very strong. The Swiss constitution awards the greatest importance to parliament. In constitutional reality, however, and mirroring closely other democratic systems, the government has developed into the most important of the three state powers. Because the Federal Council has no powers to dissolve the Federal Assembly and the Federal Assembly cannot vote the government out of office, the Federal Council, whose members remain in office for an extended period, actually has a strong position in constitutional reality. Control over both parliament and the government is the job of those entitled to vote. The electorate not only chooses its representatives but also decides important issues by means of referenda, an integral part of Swiss government. Constitutional amendments may be initiated by a petition of 50,000 voters and must be ratified by referenda. Federal legislation may also be made subject to referenda. If the representative elements of the Swiss constitution are strong, the plebiscite elements are only slightly weaker (...).

    Unlike Germany's experience with direct democracy between 1918 and 1933 during a period referred to as the Weimar Republic, the elements of direct democracy in the Swiss constitution have proved sustainable. These direct elements in the Swiss constitution have become long-lasting rather than leading to revolution or chaos. The belief that all democratic power is derived from the people - "pouvoir constituant" - has been realized most sharply in Switzerland. The Swiss electorate has more direct political influence and more possibilities open to it for controlling government than any other democracy. Nonetheless, in order for the government and political system to work properly, representative bodies are essential (...).

    Both historic and present-day references to all the differing types of democratic systems tells us that whatever the country and whatever the epoch, "democracy" has always been understood and practiced differently. It is, however, important to realize that democracy is neither fixed as an idea nor as a state structure, but is subject to change.
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    ibtihel

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    Re: Democracy

    Post by ibtihel on Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:17 pm

    Direct democracy

    Direct democracy, classically termed pure democracy[1], is any form of government based on a theory of civics in which all citizens can directly participate in the decision-making process. Some adherents want legislative, judicial, and executive powers to be handled by the people, but most extant systems only allow legislative decisions.

    Modern direct democracy, as it functions within representative democracy, is characterised by three pillars:

    * Initiative
    * Referendum including binding referendums
    * Recall

    The second pillar can include the ability to hold a binding referendum on whether a given law should be scrapped. This effectively grants the populace a veto on government legislation. The third pillar gives the people the right to recall elected officials by petition and referendum.

    Switzerland provides the strongest example of modern direct democracy, as it exhibits the first two pillars at both the local and federal levels. In the past 120 years more than 240 initiatives have been put to referendum. The populace has been conservative, approving only about 10% of the initiatives put before them; in addition, they have often opted for a version of the initiative rewritten by government.

    Another distinctive example comes from the United States, where, despite being a federal republic where no direct democracy exists at the federal level, over half the states (and many localities) provide for citizen-sponsored ballot initiatives (also called "ballot measures", "ballot questions" or "propositions") and the vast majority of the states have either initiatives and/or referendums. Most of the decisions most important to the people are made at the state and local level where direct democracy thrives.

    With the advent of the Internet, there have been suggestions for e-democracy, which comprises various mechanisms for implementing direct democracy concepts.
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    ibtihel

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    Re: Democracy

    Post by ibtihel on Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:18 pm

    Direct democracy in the United States

    History of direct democracy in the United States

    Direct democracy was very much opposed by the framers of the United States Constitution and some signers of the Declaration of Independence. They saw a danger in majorities forcing their will on minorities. As a result, they advocated a representative democracy in the form of a constitutional republic over a direct democracy. For example, James Madison, in Federalist No. 10 advocates a constitutional republic over direct democracy precisely to protect the individual from the will of the majority. He says, "A pure democracy can admit no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party. Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." [6] John Witherspoon, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, said "Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state — it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage." Alexander Hamilton said, "That a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity…".

    Despite the framers' intentions in the beginning of the republic, ballot measures and their corresponding referendums have been widely used at the state and sub-state level. There is much state and federal case law, from the early 1900s to the 1990s, that protects the people's right to each of these direct democracy governance components (Magleby, 1984, and Zimmerman, 1999). The first United States Supreme Court ruling in favor of the citizen lawmaking was in Pacific States Telephone and Telegraph Company v. Oregon, 223 U.S. 118—in 1912 (Zimmerman, December 1999). President Theodore Roosevelt, in his "Charter of Democracy" speech to the 1912 Ohio constitutional convention, stated "I believe in the Initiative and Referendum, which should be used not to destroy representative government, but to correct it whenever it becomes misrepresentative."

    In various states, referendums through which the people rule include:

    * Referrals by the legislature to the people of "proposed constitutional amendments" (constitutionally used in 49 states, excepting only Delaware — Initiative & Referendum Institute, 2004).
    * Referrals by the legislature to the people of "proposed statute laws" (constitutionally used in all 50 states — Initiative & Referendum Institute, 2004).
    * Constitutional amendment initiative is the most powerful citizen-initiated, direct democracy governance component. It is a constitutionally-defined petition process of "proposed constitutional law," which, if successful, results in its provisions being written directly into the state's constitution. Since constitutional law cannot be altered by state legislatures, this direct democracy component gives the people an automatic superiority and sovereignty, over representative government (Magelby, 1984). It is utilized at the state level in eighteen states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and South Dakota (Cronin, 1989). Among the eighteen states, there are three main types of the constitutional amendment initiative, with different degrees of involvement of the state legislature distinguishing between the types (Zimmerman, December 1999).
    * Statute law initiative is a constitutionally-defined, citizen-initiated, petition process of "proposed statute law," which, if successful, results in law being written directly into the state's statutes. The statute initiative is used at the state level in twenty-one states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming (Cronin, 1989). Note that, in Utah, there is no constitutional provision for citizen lawmaking. All of Utah's I&R law is in the state statutes (Zimmerman, December 1999). In most states, there is no special protection for citizen-made statutes; the legislature can begin to amend them immediately.
    * Statute law referendum is a constitutionally-defined, citizen-initiated, petition process of the "proposed veto of all or part of a legislature-made law," which, if successful, repeals the standing law. It is used at the state level in twenty-four states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming (Cronin, 1989).
    * The recall is a constitutionally-defined, citizen-initiated, petition process, which, if successful, removes an elected official from office by "recalling" the official's election. In most state and sub-state jurisdictions having this governance component, voting for the ballot that determines the recall includes voting for one of a slate of candidates to be the next office holder, if the recall is successful. It is utilized at the state level in eighteen states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and Wisconsin (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2004, Recall Of State Officials).

    There are now a total of 24 U.S. states with constitutionally-defined, citizen-initiated, direct democracy governance components (Zimmerman, December 1999). In the United States, for the most part only one-time majorities are required (simple majority of those voting) to approve any of these components.

    In addition, many localities around the U.S. also provide for some or all of these direct democracy governance components, and in specific classes of initiatives (like those for raising taxes), there is a supermajority voting threshold requirement. Even in states where direct democracy components are scant or nonexistent at the state level, there often exists local options for deciding specific issues, such as whether a county should be "wet" or "dry" in terms of whether alcohol sales are allowed.

    In the U.S. region of New England, nearly all towns practice a very limited form of home rule, and decide local affairs through the direct democratic process of the town meeting
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    ibtihel

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    Re: Democracy

    Post by ibtihel on Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:20 pm

    Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principles of popular sovereignty by the people's representatives.[1] The representatives form an independent ruling body (for an election period) charged with the responsibility of acting in the people's interest, but not as their proxy representatives—i.e., not necessarily always according to their wishes, but with enough authority to exercise swift and resolute initiative in the face of changing circumstances. It is often contrasted with direct democracy, where representatives are absent or are limited in power as proxy representatives.

    In many representative democracies (eg, Canada, the USA, Britain, etc), representatives are most commonly chosen in elections by a plurality of those who are both eligible to cast votes and actually do so. A plurality means that a winning candidate has to win more votes than any other candidate in the race, but does not necessarily require a majority of the votes cast. While existing representative democracies hold such elections to choose representatives, in theory other methods, such as sortition (more closely aligned with direct democracy), could be used instead. Also, representatives sometimes hold the power to select other representatives, presidents, or other officers of government (indirect representation).

    A representative democracy that also protects liberties is called a liberal democracy. One that does not is an illiberal democracy. There is no necessity that individual liberties are respected in a representative democracy. For example, the Communist states were technically representative democracies who regularly held elections.

    Today, in liberal democracies, representatives are usually elected in free, secret-ballot, multi-party elections. The power of representatives in a liberal democracy is usually curtailed by a constitution (as in a constitutional republic or a constitutional monarchy) or other measures to balance representative power:

    * An independent judiciary, which may have the power to declare legislative acts unconstitutional (e.g. Supreme Court)
    * It may also provide for some deliberative democracy (e.g., Royal Commissions) or direct democracy measures (e.g., initiative, referendum, recall elections). However, these are not always binding and usually require some legislative action - legal power usually remains firmly with representatives.
    * In some cases, a bicameral legislature may have an "upper house" that is not directly elected, such as the Canadian Senate, which was in turn modelled on the British House of Lords.

    The term republic may have many different meanings. Today, it often simply means a state with an elected or otherwise non-monarchical head of state, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran or the former German Democratic Republic. It may also have a meaning similar to liberal democracy. For example, "the United States relies on representative democracy, but [its] system of government is much more complex than that. [It is] not a simple representative democracy, but a constitutional republic in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law.
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    ibtihel

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    Re: Democracy

    Post by ibtihel on Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:20 pm

    iberal democracy is a form of government, a political system.[1] It is a representative democracy in which the ability of the elected representatives to exercise decision-making power is subject to the rule of law, and moderated by a constitution that emphasizes the protection of the rights and freedoms of individuals, and which places constraints on the leaders and on the extent to which the will of the majority can be exercised against the rights of minorities (see civil liberties). A liberal democracy has elections, a multiplicity of political parties, political decisions made through an independent legislature, and an independent judiciary, with a state monopoly on law enforcement.[2]

    Generally it is seen that liberal democracy involves an uneasy marriage of two components: a liberal element that limits the scope and reach of government in the name of preserving individual freedom, and an element based on popular sovereignty that calls for majority rule, as expressed at the ballot box.[3]. A main modern theorist of Liberal democracy is Larry Diamond, who sees Liberal democracy as the combination of democracy and constitutional liberalism. He outlines an eleven point conceptualisation[4]:

    1. Electoral outcomes are uncertain, opposition vote is significant and no group that adheres to constitutional principles is denied the right to form a party and contest elections.
    2. The military and other democratically unaccountable actors should be subordinate to the authority of elected civilian officials.
    3. Citizens have multiple channels for expression and representation such as diverse independent associations and movements which they have the freedom to form and join.
    4. Individuals have substantial freedom of belief, opinion, discussion, speech, publication, assembly, demonstration and petition.
    5. There are alternative sources of information (including independent media to which citizens have politically unfettered access).
    6. Executive power is constrained by the autonomy of the government institutions such as an independent judiciary , parliament and other mechanisms of horizontal accountability.
    7. Civil liberties are effectively protected by an independent non-discriminatory judiciary whose decisions are respected and enforced by other centres of power.
    8. Citizens are politically equal under the law.
    9. Minority groups are not oppressed.
    10. The rule of law protects citizens from human right abuses.
    11. The constitution is supreme.

    The rights and freedoms protected by the constitutions of liberal democracies are varied, but they usually include the rights and freedoms mentioned in the conceptualisation as well as the rights to due process, privacy, property and equality before the law. In liberal democracies these rights (also known as "liberal rights") may sometimes be constitutionally guaranteed, or are otherwise created by statutory law or case law, which may in turn empower various civil institutions to administer or enforce these rights.

    Liberal democracies also tend to be characterized by tolerance and pluralism; widely differing social and political views, even those viewed as extreme or fringe, are permitted to co-exist and compete for political power on a democratic basis. Liberal democracies periodically hold elections where groups with differing political views have the opportunity to achieve political power. In practice, these elections are nearly always won by groups who support liberal democracy; thus the system perpetuates itself.

    According to some, the term liberal democracy is merely a reference to the fact that liberal democracies feature constitutional protections of individual rights from government power,[5] which were first proposed during the Age of Enlightenment by liberal philosophers advocating liberty.

    A liberal democracy may take the form of a constitutional republic or a constitutional monarchy. Some publications would characterize certain nations which happen to be currently ruled by Christian democrats, Socialists or conservatives as liberal democracies, despite the fact that the governing party may or may not espouse policies that are aligned with either classical liberalism or contemporary "liberal" (or left-wing) ideals, as long as the underlying governmental structure includes respect for the aforementioned rights.
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    ibtihel

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    Re: Democracy

    Post by ibtihel on Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:22 pm

    Arguments in favor of direct democracy tend to focus on perceived flaws in the alternative, representative democracy:

    * Non representation. Individuals elected to office in a representative democracy tend not to be demographically representative of their constituency. They tend to be wealthier and more educated, and are also more predominantly male as well as members of the majority race, ethnic group, and religion than a random sample would produce. They also tend to be concentrated in certain professions, such as lawyers. Elections by district may reduce, but not eliminate, those tendencies, in a segregated society. Direct democracy would be inherently representative, assuming universal suffrage (where everyone can vote). Critics counter that direct democracy can be unrepresentative, if not all eligible voters participate in every vote, and that this is lacking voter turnout is not equally distributed among various groups. Greater levels of education, especially regarding law, seem to have many advantages and disadvantages in lawmaking.

    * Conflict of interest. The interests of elected representatives do not necessarily correspond with those of their constituents. An example is that representatives often get to vote to determine their own salaries. It is in their interest that the salaries be high, while it is in the interest of the electorate that they be as low as possible, since they are funded with tax revenue. The typical results of representative democracy are that their salaries are much higher than this average, however. Critics counter that salaries for representatives are necessary, otherwise only the wealthy could afford to participate.

    * Corruption. The concentration of power intrinsic to representative government is seen by some as tending to create corruption. In direct democracy, the possibility for corruption is reduced.

    * Political parties. The formation of political parties is considered by some to be a "necessary evil" of representative democracy, where combined resources are often needed to get candidates elected. However, such parties mean that individual representatives must compromise their own values and those of the electorate, in order to fall in line with the party platform. At times, only a minor compromise is needed. At other times such a large compromise is demanded that a representative will resign or switch parties. In structural terms, the party system may be seen as a form of oligarchy. (Hans Köchler, 1995) Meanwhile, in direct democracy, political parties have virtually no effect, as people do not need to conform with popular opinions. In addition to party cohesion, representatives may also compromise in order to achieve other objectives, by passing combined legislation, where for example minimum wage measures are combined with tax relief. In order to satisfy one desire of the electorate, the representative may have to abandon a second principle. In direct democracy, each issue would be decided on its own merits, and so "special interests" would not be able to include unpopular measures in this way.

    * Government transition. The change from one ruling party to another, or to a lesser extent from one representative to another, may cause a substantial governmental disruption and change of laws. For example, US Secretary of State (then National Security Advisor) Condoleezza Rice cited the transition from the previous Clinton Administration as a principal reason why the United States was unable to prevent the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Bush Administration had taken office nearly 8 months prior to the attacks.

    * Cost of elections. Many resources are spent on elections which could be applied elsewhere. Furthermore, the need to raise campaign contributions is felt to seriously damage the neutrality of representatives, who are beholden to major contributors, and reward them, at the very least, by granting access to government officials. However, direct democracy would require many more votings, which would be costly, and also probably campaigns by those who may lose or gain from the results.

    * Patronage and nepotism. Elected individuals frequently appoint people to high positions based on their mutual loyalty, as opposed to their competence. For example, Michael D. Brown was appointed to head the US Federal Emergency Management Agency, despite a lack of experience. His subsequent poor performance following Hurricane Katrina may have greatly increased the number of deaths. In a direct democracy where everybody voted for agency heads, it wouldn't be likely for them to be elected solely based on their relationship with the voters. On the other hand, most people may have no knowledge of the candidates and get tired of voting for every agency head. As a result, mostly friends and relatives may vote.

    * Lack of transparency. Supporters argue that direct democracy, where people vote directly for issues concerning them, would result in greater political transparency than representative democracy. Critics argue that representative democracy can be equally transparent. In both systems people cannot vote on everything, leaving many decisions to some forms of managers, requiring strong Freedom of Information legislation for transparency.

    * Insufficient sample size. It is often noted that prediction markets most of the time produce remarkably efficient predictions regarding the future. Many, maybe even most, individuals make bad predictions, but the resulting average prediction is often surprisingly good. If the same applies to making political decisions, then direct democracy may produce very efficient decisions.

    * Lack of accountability. Once elected, representatives are free to act as they please. Promises made before the election are often broken, and they frequently act contrary to the wishes of their electorate. Although theoretically it is possible to have a representative democracy in which the representatives can be recalled at any time; in practice this is usually not the case. An instant recall process would, in fact, be a form of direct democracy.

    * Voter apathy. If voters have more influence on decisions, it is argued that they will take more interest in and participate more in deciding those issues.
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    ibtihel

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    Re: Democracy

    Post by ibtihel on Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:23 pm

    * Scale. Direct democracy works on a small system. For example, the Athenian Democracy governed a city of, at its height, about 30,000 eligible voters (free adult male citizens). Town meetings, a form of local government once common in New England, have also worked well, often emphasizing consensus over majority rule. The use of direct democracy on a larger scale has historically been more difficult, however.[4] Nevertheless, developments in technology such as the internet, user-friendly and secure software, and inexpensive, powerful personal computers have all inspired new hope in the practicality of large scale applications of direct democracy. Furthermore ideas such as council democracy and the Marxist concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat are if nothing else proposals to enact direct democracy in nation-states and beyond.

    * Practicality and efficiency. Another objection to direct democracy is that of practicality and efficiency. Deciding all or most matters of public importance by direct referendum is slow and expensive (especially in a large community), and can result in public apathy and voter fatigue, especially when repeatedly faced with the same questions or with questions which are unimportant to the voter. Modern advocates of direct democracy often suggest e-democracy (sometimes including wikis, television and Internet forums) to address these problems.

    * Demagoguery. A fundamental objection to direct democracy is that the public generally gives only superficial attention to political issues and is thus susceptible to charismatic argument or demagoguery. The counter argument is that representative democracy causes voters not to pay attention, since each voter's opinion doesn't matter much and their legislative power is limited. However, if the electorate is large, direct democracy also brings the effect of diminished vote significance, lacking a majority vote policy.

    One possible solution is demanding that a proposal requires the support of at least 50% of all citizens in order to pass, effectively meaning that absent voters count as "No" votes. This would prevent minorities from gaining power. However, this still means that the majority could be swayed by demagoguery. Also, this solution could be used by representative democracy.

    * Complexity. A further objection is that policy matters are often so complicated that not all voters understand them. The average voter may have little knowledge regarding the issues that should be decided. The arduous electoral process in representative democracies may mean that the elected leaders have above average ability and knowledge. Advocates of direct democracy argue, however, that laws need not be so complex and that having a permanent ruling class (especially when populated in large proportion by lawyers) leads to overly complex tax laws, etc. Critics doubt that laws can be extremely simplified and argue that many issues require expert knowledge. Supporters argue that such expert knowledge could be made available to the voting public.

    * Voter apathy. The average voter may not be interested in politics and therefore may not participate. This immediately reveals the lack of interest either in the issues themselves or in the options; sometimes people need to redefine the issues before they can vote either in favor or in opposition. A small amount of voter apathy is always to be expected, and this is not seen as a problem so long the levels remain constant among (do not target) specific groups of people. That is, if 10% of the population voted with representative samples from all groups in the population, then in theory, the outcome would be correct. Nevertheless, the high level of voter apathy would reveal a substantial escalation in voter fatigue and political disconnect. The risk is, however, that voter apathy would not apply to special interest groups. For example, most farmers may vote for a proposal to increase agricultural subsidies to themselves while the general population ignore this issue. If many special interest groups do the same thing, then the resources of the state may be exhausted. One possible solution is compulsory voting, although this has problems of its own such as restriction of freedom, costs of enforcement, and random voting.

    * Self-interest. The voter will tend to look after his or her own interest rather than considering the needs and values of a society as a whole. Thus it is very difficult under a system of direct democracy to make a law which benefits a smaller group if it hurts a larger group, even if the benefit to the small group outweighs that of the larger group. This point is also an argument in favour of Direct Democracy, as current representative party systems often make decisions that are not in line with or in favour of the mass of the population, but of a small elite group. Making it difficult to enshrine laws that benefit the small minority of the ruling class will level the playing field and provide a fair voice for all members of a society. It should be noted that this is a criticism of democracy in general, but is particularly acute for direct democracy. "Fiscal responsibility", for instance, is difficult under true direct democracy, as people generally do not wish to pay taxes,[citation needed] despite the fact that governments need a source of revenue.[citation needed]

    * Suboptimality. Results may be quite different depending on whether people vote on single issues separately in referendums, or on a number of options bundled together by political parties. As explained in the article on majority rule, the results from voting separately on the issues may be suboptimal, which is a strong argument against the indiscriminate use of referendums.

    * Manipulation by timing and framing. If voters are to decide on an issue in a referendum, a day (or other period of time) must be set for the vote and the question must be framed, but since the date on which the question is set and different formulations of the same question evoke different responses, whoever sets the date of the vote and frames the question has the possibility of influencing the result of the vote.[5]. Manipulation is also present in pure democracy with a growing population. Original members of the society are able to instigate measures and systems that enable them to manipulate the thoughts of new members to the society.

    [edit] Direct democracy in Switzerland

    In Switzerland, single majorities are sufficient at the town, city, and state (canton and half-canton) level, but at the national level, "double majorities" are required on constitutional matters. The intent of the double majorities is simply to ensure any citizen-made law's legitimacy (Kobach, 1993).

    Double majorities are, first, the approval by a majority of those voting, and, second, a majority of states in which a majority of those voting approve the ballot measure. A citizen-proposed law (i.e. initiative) cannot be passed in Switzerland at the national level if a majority of the people approve, but a majority of the states disapprove (Kobach, 1993). For referendums or proposition in general terms (like the principle of a general revision of the Constitution), the majority of those voting is enough (Swiss constitution, 2005).

    In 1890, when the provisions for Swiss national citizen lawmaking were being debated by civil society and government, the Swiss copied the idea of double majorities from the United States Congress, in which House votes were to represent the people and Senate votes were to represent the states (Kobach, 1993). According to its supporters, this "legitimacy-rich" approach to national citizen lawmaking has been very successful. Kobach claims that Switzerland has had tandem successes both socially and economically which are matched by only a few other nations, and that the United States is not one of them. Kobach states at the end of his book, "Too often, observers deem Switzerland an oddity among political systems. It is more appropriate to regard it as a pioneer." Finally, the Swiss political system, including its direct democratic devices in a multi-level governance context, becomes increasingly interesting for scholars of EU integration .
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    ibtihel

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    Re: Democracy

    Post by ibtihel on Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:28 pm

    Liberal democracies today usually have universal suffrage, granting all adult citizens the right to vote regardless of race, gender or property ownership. Historically, however, some countries regarded as liberal democracies have had a more limited franchise, and some do not have secret ballots. There may also be qualifications such as voters being required to register before being allowed to vote. The decisions made through elections are made not by all of the citizens, but rather by those who choose to participate by voting.

    According to the principles of liberal democracy, the elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive. Political pluralism is usually defined as the presence of multiple and distinct political parties.

    The liberal democratic constitution defines the democratic character of the state. The purpose of a constitution is often seen as a limit on the authority of the government. The Anglo-American political tradition emphasises the separation of powers, an independent judiciary, and a system of checks and balances between branches of government. Many European democracies are more likely to emphasise the importance of the state being a Rechtsstaat that follows the principle of rule of law. Governmental authority is legitimately exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws adopted and enforced in accordance with established procedure. Many democracies use federalism - (also known as vertical separation of powers) - in order to prevent abuse and increase public input by dividing governing powers between municipal, provincial and national governments.
    Eduskunta. Several nations and territories can present arguments for being the first with universal suffrage. The Grand Duchy of Finland had complete universal suffrage in 1906.
    Eduskunta. Several nations and territories can present arguments for being the first with universal suffrage. The Grand Duchy of Finland had complete universal suffrage in 1906.

    [edit] Rights and freedoms

    In practice, democracies do have specific limits on specific freedoms. There are various legal limitations such as copyright and laws against defamation. There may be limits on anti-democratic speech, on attempts to undermine human rights, and on the promotion or justification of terrorism. In the United States more than in Europe, during the Cold War, such restrictions applied to Communists. Now they are more commonly applied to organizations perceived as promoting terrorism or the incitement of group hatred. Examples include anti-terrorism legislation, the shutting down of Hezbollah satellite broadcasts, and some laws against hate speech. Critics claim that these limitations may go too far and that there may be no due and fair judicial process.

    The common justification for these limits is that they are necessary to guarantee the existence of democracy, or the existence of the freedoms themselves. For example, allowing free speech for those advocating mass murder undermines the right to life and security. Opinion is divided on how far democracy can extend to include the enemies of democracy in the democratic process. If relatively small numbers of people are excluded from such freedoms for these reasons, a country may still be seen as a liberal democracy. Some argue that this is not qualitatively different from autocracies that persecutes opponents, but only quantitatively different, since only a small number of people are affected and the restrictions are less severe. Others emphasize that democracies are different. At least in theory, opponents of democracy are also allowed due process under the rule of law. In principle, democracies allow criticism and change of the leaders and the political and economic system itself; it is only attempts to do so violently and promotion of such violence that is prohibited.

    However, many governments considered to be democratic have restrictions upon expressions considered anti-democratic, such as Holocaust denial and hate speech. Members of political organizations with connections to prior totalitarianism (typically communist, fascist, and nazi) parties prohibited and current or former members of such organizations may be deprived of the vote and the privilege of holding certain jobs. Discriminatory behavior may be prohibited, such as refusal by owners of public accommodations to serve persons on grounds of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. In Canada, a printer who refused to print pro-homosexual materials was fined $5,000, incurred $100,000 in legal fees, and was ordered to pay a further $40,000 of his opponents' legal fees.[6]

    Other rights considered fundamental in one country may be foreign to other governments. For instance, many Americans consider gun rights and freedom from double jeopardy to be important rights, while other countries do not recognize them as rights.
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    ibtihel

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    Re: Democracy

    Post by ibtihel on Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:29 pm

    The origins of liberal democracy
    The Liberalism series,
    part of the Politics series
    Development[show]

    * History of liberal thought
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    * American liberalism
    * Classical liberalism
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    * Freedom
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    * Rights

    Thinkers[show]

    * John Locke
    * J.S. Mill
    * John Rawls

    Regional variants[show]

    * By Country
    * Liberalism worldwide
    * Liberalism in Europe
    * Liberalism in the United States

    Organizations[show]

    * Liberal parties of the world
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    Liberal democracy traces its origins—and its name—to the European 18th century, also known as the Age of Enlightenment. At the time, the vast majority of European states were monarchies, with political power held either by the monarch or the aristocracy. The possibility of democracy had not been seriously considered by political theory since classical antiquity, and the widely held belief was that democracies would be inherently unstable and chaotic in their policies due to the changing whims of the people. It was further believed that democracy was contrary to human nature, as human beings were seen to be inherently evil, violent and in need of a strong leader to restrain their destructive impulses. Many European monarchs held that their power had been ordained by God, and that questioning their right to rule was tantamount to blasphemy.

    These conventional views were challenged at first by a relatively small group of Enlightenment intellectuals, who believed that human affairs should be guided by reason and principles of liberty and equality. They argued that all people are created equal, and therefore political authority cannot be justified on the basis of "noble blood", a supposed privileged connection to God, or any other characteristic that is alleged to make one person superior to others. They further argued that governments exist to serve the people, not vice versa, and that laws should apply to those who govern as well as to the governed (a concept known as rule of law).

    Near the end of the 18th century, these ideas inspired the American Revolution and the French Revolution, which gave birth to the ideology of liberalism and instituted forms of government that attempted to apply the principles of the Enlightenment philosophers into practice. Neither of these forms of government was precisely what we would call a liberal democracy we know today (the most significant difference being that voting rights were still restricted to a minority of the population), and the French attempt turned out to be short-lived, but they were the prototypes from which liberal democracy later grew. Since the supporters of these forms of government were known as liberals, the governments themselves came to be known as liberal democracies.

    When the first prototypical liberal democracies were founded, the liberals themselves were viewed as an extreme and rather dangerous fringe group that threatened international peace and stability. The conservative monarchists who opposed liberalism and democracy saw themselves as defenders of traditional values and the natural order of things, and their criticism of democracy seemed vindicated when Napoleon Bonaparte took control of the young French Republic, reorganized it into the first French Empire and proceeded to conquer most of Europe. Napoleon was eventually defeated and the Holy Alliance was formed in Europe to prevent any further spread of liberalism or democracy. However, liberal democratic ideals soon became widespread among the general population, and, over the 19th century, traditional monarchy was forced on a continuous defensive and withdrawal. Reforms and revolutions helped move most European countries towards liberal democracy. Liberalism ceased being a fringe opinion and joined the political mainstream. At the same time, a number of non-liberal ideologies developed that took the concept of liberal democracy and made it their own. The political spectrum changed; traditional monarchy became more and more a fringe view and liberal democracy became more and more mainstream. By the end of the 19th century, liberal democracy was no longer only a "liberal" idea, but an idea supported by many different ideologies. After World War I and especially after World War II, liberal democracy achieved a dominant position among theories of government and is now endorsed by the vast majority of the political spectrum.

    Although liberal democracy was originally put forward by Enlightenment liberals, the relationship between democracy and liberalism has been controversial since the beginning.[citation needed] The ideology of liberalism—particularly in its classical form—is highly individualistic and concerns itself with limiting the power of the state over the individual. In contrast, democracy is seen by some[attribution needed] as a collectivist ideal, concerned with empowering the masses. Thus, liberal democracy may be seen as a compromise between liberal individualism and democratic collectivism. Those[attribution needed] who hold this view sometimes point to the existence of illiberal democracy and liberal autocracy as evidence that constitutional liberalism and democratic government are not necessarily interconnected.[citation needed] On the other hand, there is the view that constitutional liberalism and democratic government are not only compatible but necessary for the true existence of each other,[attribution needed][citation needed] both arising from the underlying concept of political equality. Freedom House today simply defines liberal democracy as an electorial democracy also protecting civil liberties.

    [edit] Liberal democracies around the world
    This map reflects the findings of Freedom House's survey Freedom in the World 2007. Freedom House considers the green nations to be liberal democracies. Some of these estimates are disputed. ██ Free ██ Partly Free ██ Not Free
    This map reflects the findings of Freedom House's survey Freedom in the World 2007. Freedom House considers the green nations to be liberal democracies. Some of these estimates are disputed.

    ██ Free ██ Partly Free ██ Not Free
    This graph shows the number of nations in the different categories given above for the period for which there are surveys, 1972–2005
    This graph shows the number of nations in the different categories given above for the period for which there are surveys, 1972–2005
    States by their systems of government as of April 2006. presidential republics, full presidential system presidential republics, parliament supervising an executive presidency presidential republics, semi-presidential system parliamentary republics parliamentary constitutional monarchies in which the monarch does not personally exercise power constitutional monarchies in which the monarch personally exercises power, often alongside a weak parliament absolute monarchies states whose constitutions grant only a single party the right to govern states where constitutional provisions for government have been suspended
    States by their systems of government as of April 2006. presidential republics, full presidential system presidential republics, parliament supervising an executive presidency presidential republics, semi-presidential system parliamentary republics parliamentary constitutional monarchies in which the monarch does not personally exercise power constitutional monarchies in which the monarch personally exercises power, often alongside a weak parliament absolute monarchies states whose constitutions grant only a single party the right to govern states where constitutional provisions for government have been suspended
    The above image include only those states designated "electoral democracies" in Freedom House's survey Freedom in the World 2006. Note that not all nations which are officially democracies (as indicated by the middle image) are considered to be democratic in practice (as indicated by the last image).
    The above image include only those states designated "electoral democracies" in Freedom House's survey Freedom in the World 2006. Note that not all nations which are officially democracies (as indicated by the middle image) are considered to be democratic in practice (as indicated by the last image).

    Several organisations and political scientists maintain lists of free and unfree states, both in the present and going back a couple centuries. Of these, the best known may be the Polity Data Set[7] and that produced by Freedom House.

    There is general agreement that the states of the European Union, Japan, the United States, Canada, India, South Africa, Israel, Australia, and New Zealand are liberal democracies, with India currently being the largest in the world.[8]

    Freedom House considers many of the officially democratic governments in Africa and the former Soviet Union to be undemocratic in practice, usually because the sitting government has a strong influence over election outcomes. Many of these countries are in a state of considerable flux.

    Officially non-democratic forms of government, such as single-party states and dictatorships are more common in East Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

    [edit] Types of liberal democracies

    [edit] De facto liberal democracies

    Liberal democracy is sometimes the de facto form of government, while other forms are technically the case; for example, the Canadian monarchy is in fact ruled by a democratically elected Parliament, and the government's ability to create laws that would infringe on individual liberty is curtailed by a codified constitution. In the United Kingdom, the sovereign is the hereditary monarch, but the de facto (legislative) sovereign is the people, via their elected representatives in Parliament, hence a democracy.

    Many disagree with any form of hereditary privilege, including monarchy. Monarchists reply that the monarchy in these nations is almost entirely ceremonial rather than political.

    [edit] Proportional and plurality representation

    Plurality voting system award seats according to regional majorities. The political party or individual candidate who receives the most votes, wins the seat which represents that locality. There are other democratic electoral systems, such as the various forms of proportional representation, which award seats according to the proportion of individual votes that a party receives nation-wide or in a particular region.

    One of the main points of contention between these two systems, is whether to have representatives who are able to effectively represent specific regions in a country, or to have all citizens' vote count the same, regardless of where in the country they happen to live.

    Some countries such as Germany and New Zealand, address the conflict between these two forms of representation, by having two categories of seats in the lower house of their federal legislative bodies. The first category of seats is appointed according to regional popularity, and the remainder are awarded to give the parties a proportion of seats that is equal - or as equal as practicable - to their proportion of nation-wide votes. This system is commonly called mixed member proportional representation.

    Australia incorporates both systems in having the plurality voting system applicable to the lower house and proportional representation by state in the upper house. This system is argued to result in a more stable government, while having a better diversity of parties to review its actions.

    [edit] Presidential and parliamentary systems

    A presidential system is a system of government of a republic where the executive branch is elected separately from the legislative. A parliamentary system is distinguished by the executive branch of government being dependent on the direct or indirect support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence.

    The presidential system of democratic government has become popular in Latin America, Africa, and parts of the former Soviet Union, largely by the example of the United States. Constitutional monarchies (dominated by elected parliaments) are popular in Northern Europe and some former colonies which peacefully separated, such as Australia and Canada. Others have also arisen in Spain, East Asia, and a variety of small nations around the world. Former British territories such as South Africa, India, Ireland, and the United States opted for different forms at the time of independence. The parliamentary system is popular in the European Union and neighboring countries.
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    laflouf86

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    Re: Democracy

    Post by laflouf86 on Sat Mar 08, 2008 10:59 am

    Good job Ibtihel cheers
    All this were our TD the last week with "Nechba"
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    ibtihel

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    Re: Democracy

    Post by ibtihel on Sat Mar 08, 2008 5:45 pm

    thank you olfa

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