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Raised Questions About Democratization

  • Date Submitted: 03/14/2010 07:54 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 29 
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By R.J. Rummel

The process through which a political system becomes democratic. This raises three questions: what is the meaning of democracy that is the result of this process? What is the process that achieves this end. And how is this end to be evaluated?
Democracy may be defined by its inherent nature and by its empirical conditions. As to its nature, Aristotle defined democracy as rule by the people (Greek demokratia: demos, people + -kratia, -cracy), and this idea that in some way the people govern themselves is still the core meaning of democracy. But around this idea several related themes have developed that are now thought integral to what democracy means. One is that the people govern themselves by regular elections through which their highest leaders are periodically determined (representative democracy) or policies governing them are chosen (direct democracy).
A second is that the right to vote includes virtually all adults. This is an entirely modern addition. Not so long ago governments were called democratic that excluded from the franchise all slaves, women, and free males that did not meet certain property or literacy requirements. Now it is considered perverse to call democratic any country so restricting the franchise, as for example, the South Africa apartheid regime that limited voting to minority whites.
A third is the acceptance of certain so-called democratic rights, particularly the right to vote, the right to have one's vote count equally, the right to run for the highest office, and the right to organize political groups or parties.
And finally, there is above the state a law to which all authorities adhere, that provides the framework for democratic rule, and that protects democratic rights. Democracy, therefore, now generally means that a people rule themselves through periodic elections of their highest leaders in which nearly all adults can participate, for which offices they are eligible, and under the rule...


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