How Can Be Democracies By Maintained? There is no simple recipe. The Western democracies only achieved stability over a long period, and after experiencing periodic reversal at the hands of aerostatic reaction, military dictatorship, or fascism. Circumstances may simply prove too unfavorable for democracy substantiality in some of the recently established democracy. Thus social divisions may run too deep to be accommodated within a free political order. Or the economy may be too impoverished to enable legitimate popular expectations to be met. Or the military may be too unreconciled to a non-political role.
However, it is a mistake to imagine that people are powerless in the face unfavorable conditions. Measures can be taken to consolidate democratic institutions so as to with-stand the pressure to which they will inevitably be subject. Much depends, for example, on the quality and training of the professional who occupies key positions within the state: the judiciary and constitutional lawyers, parliamentary clerk, election officer, and the civil service more widely. Political parties need to be build up and to have access to training for their own coder.
The principal institutions of civil society –the medial, businesses, trade unions, non-governmental organizations in general (NGOs) – need to develop the capacity to independently of the state and its tutelage. Much also depends upon the ability and the integrity of senior political leaders and upon their commitment to democratic and constitutional politics, as well as to the solutions of imitating problems and the continuation of their own power.
The maintainers of democracy can perhaps best be seen as a campaign wedge on two fronts simultaneously. On one side is the struggle against anti-democratic forces, which may never have reconciled themselves to free institutions or to the influence of ordinary people on the political process. On the other side is the struggle to contain the divisive features of democratic politics itself, such as the compaction of government office and the temptation to treat politics as a game in which the winners take all the prizes.
The first struggle will depend upon the breadth of the institutional and groups within society that has an interest in the survival of democracy and a readiness to defend it. The second will depend upon certain self-restraint in the exercise of power and a willingness to keep open the dialogue with political opponents, as well as upon respect b the population at large for the political rights of others.
There are four main components or building blocks of a functioning democracy. There are: free and fare elections; open and accountable government; civil and political rights; a democratic or ‘civil’ society. These components have been touched on in answer to previous questions; here they will be described more systematically, since they provide the framework from the following sets of questions. This framework can be represented diagrammatically as a ‘democratic pyramid’, in which each component is necessary to the whole.
Free and Fair Elections
Competitive elections are the main device whereby public officials are rendered accountable and subject to popular control. They also constitute an important arena for ensuring political quality between citizens, both in access to public office and in the value of their votes. The criterion of ‘free and fair elections’ embraces in the first place the electoral system, i.e. the laws governing which offices are electable, who may vote, how constituencies are to be defined, how votes are to aggregated to select the winners, and so on.
Second is the electoral process, i.e. how individual elections is conducted in practice from the initial registration of voters, to ensure the law is strictly and impartially applied and that there is no malpractice to throw the result into question.
Open and Accountable Government
In a democracy the accountability of the government to the public is on the side a legal accountability: to the courts for the observance of the law’), on the other side a political accountability: to parliament and the public for the justifiability of government policy and actions.
This accountability depends upon the independence from governments of the courts, in their power to defend the constitutions, to determine guilt and to punish offences, and of parliament, in its powers of legislation taxation and scurrility of government.
Besides being accountable, a democratic government should also be responsive, both through formal requirements of consultation and through its openness to the expression of public opinion in its various forms.
Civil and Political Rights
Civil and political rights encompass those freedoms –of expression, association, movement, and so on- which are a necessary condition for people to act politically, whether in terms of self –organization within civil society or to bring influence to bear upon government.
Although these rights are properly guaranteed to individuals, as a part of human rights more generally, their values lies in the context of collective action: joining with others for common ends, campaigning, influencing public opinion, etc. it is thus mistaken to see individual rights as necessarily antithetical to collective purpose, or the processes of collective decision-making and their popular control, for which they constitute rather the necessary foundation.
A Democratic or ‘Civil’ Society
The idea of a ‘civil’ society indicates that democracy needs to have social association of all kinds that are organized independently of the state. Only in this way can the power of the state be limited, can public opinion be articulated from below rather than managed from above, and can society achieve the self-confidence to resist arbitrary rule.
The principal that such associations should be not only independent but also internally democratic embodies the idea that democracy at the level of the state will only be weakly rooted if the rest of society is run on autocratic lines.
If people are conditioned to authoritarianism in the family, the school and the church, and if they have no experience of self-organization or co-determination in the workplace, the neighborhood and voluntary associations, they are unlikely to be active citizens or feel any responsibility for the condition of their society at large.