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What is democracy & democratic? – Enlightenment

What is democracy & democratic? - Enlightenment ;rung

Winston Churchill described the democracy of his day as “the worst of all forms of government save all others.”

George Bernard Shaw spoke of it as “a process which guarantees that we not be governed better than we deserve.”

Today at least every adult in the civilized world probably knows the term.
But the democratic form of government is not set in stone. It has different faces and characteristics, a long history and not every democracy contains what is written on it.

What does democracy mean?

The term democracy is made up of the words demos, for “national people ', and kratos, for 'dominion, power, or violence', together. As a result, being democratic means that power and government in a political system emanates from the people.

What can be confusing is that most democracies are also republics. Res publica means “public matter”.
At the same time, not every republic has to be a democracy. Even some modern monarchies can be democratic. For example in parliamentary monarchies.

What many do not know: only a fraction of all democracies in our world are actually full democracies. The large remainder is divided into incomplete democracies and semi-democratic systems.

The essential characteristics of democracy

Many countries today claim to be a democracy. In the past, for example, the GDR described itself as democratic. Even in the Third Reich, the propaganda of a “truly democratic state” was spread. Various sham democracies can also currently be found. Although these allow elections, there is no democratic party to choose from.

The criteria that must be met in order to rule democratically are:
A people (demos) that collectively participates in political decisions. For example in the form of elections.
This sovereign people is at the same time the bearer of state authority and shapes its political system, the constituent power, among other things through a constitution.

Decision-making on political issues takes place either directly in the form of a referendum , or indirectly via the election of deputies, for example in a parliament.

In such representative democracies, the people accept that the elected representatives are given political legitimacy and that the interests of certain minorities may not be represented as a result.
Thus, in democratic elections there are always winners and losers. If the system works, regular changes in government are easier to implement if necessary.

On the other hand, there are many sham democracies in the world in which the existing regime can only be changed with difficulty, and instead often only confirmed. Here revolutions are often the only and last solution.
An important feature in this respect is the multi-party system, such as an opposition in parliament.
While there are direct democracies in a few countries, in which the people without an intermediate instance , for example by voting, today there are predominantly representative democracies.
Especially in the Western understanding of democracy, this is usually associated with forms of the rule of law.
These include, among other things, the guarantee of the basic rights of every person against the state, various groups and other individuals. Furthermore, the separation of powers of the ruling state into the executive, the executive power, the legislature, the legislative power and the judiciary, the judicial power. There is also freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

The history of democracy

Today, Plato and his student Aristotle are considered to be the forefathers of the discussion about the concept of democracy.
Both have partially contradictory opinions. Because while the former advocates the rule of intellectuals and experts, his disciple deals with the integration of all citizens in decision-making.
At the same time, it must be mentioned that this democracy of all citizens did not include all people by far. Slaves, like women, were fundamentally excluded.

And even then it wasn't just the simple man who was able to distinguish himself politically and participate. It was mostly rhetorically trained nobles and scholars who were able to prove their charisma. This peculiarity has carried over the centuries and millennia up to our time.

After a longer existence in ancient Athens and the Roman Empire, democracy disappeared from the political structure of world events for a long epoch and mostly gave way to religious and natural views.< br>The democratic form of government found its personal renaissance in the Age of Enlightenment. Through the Enlightenment, the reason of the individual came to the fore again. This gave people back the power to actively participate in shaping public events. The people were granted more say, participation in public life was possible again.

In the age of industrialization, civil rights, the principle of popular sovereignty and the constitution were demanded in the form of joint contracts. They were intended to thwart state encroachments and ensure more freedom of speech in political formation.

After numerous revolutions in Europe and the USA, there were major differences between the people and the autocrats, as a result of which some cruel measures were taken.
Off These developments resulted in more and more democratic developments, human rights, constitutions, civil rights and the separation of state and church through the invention of the republic.

After most monarchies were replaced by republics in the 19th century, new discrepancies arose. The capitalist inequality of prosperity again led to major protests, this time from the working class.
These hoped for more freedom and equality through Marxist theory. The people split into liberal-democratic and communist supporters. A part of those professed the former and formed the current of social democracy.

In fascism of the first half of the 20th century, despite alleged democracies, obedience to an authority and the exclusion of many different groups of people from politics were propagated. Parliamentarism was rejected, and this movement finally reached its well-known cruel climax in the National Socialist ideology.
This movement, including in Germany, was only restored to a democratic form after the end of the Second World War with the introduction of the Basic Law.

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