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This is a 3 minute video to introduce the most basic concepts of a Democracy. Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally—either directly or indirectly through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, religious, cultural, ethnic and racial equality, justice, liberty and fraternity.
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The word democracy comes from the Greek words of “démos” which means “people” and “krátos” which means “power” or “rule”, So democracy basically means “the rule of the people.”
Democracy first started as a direct democracy, in Greek cities, notably Ancient Athens, where people came together to speak about their concerns and opinions, in front of rulers of the city state, and directly voted on new rules and laws. Here is considered as the birthplace of democracy .
So, For the very first time, decisions were made by the people instead of rulers... but sadly, the ancient greeks did not see all people equally. Slaves, women, children and the people who did not have a land weren’t allowed to vote. This is what we call a “flawed” democracy today.
After the Greeks lost their power and influence in the first century AD, their early forms of democracy were also fading away until the Magna Carta was signed in 1215, which prevented the King of England to do whatever he wanted and said that even the King had to follow the country’s rules and laws which were written in the constitution.
Today, most democracies are indirect or representative which means that you can’t vote for a new law yourself, but you can vote for people who then become law makers and present your interests. But democracy isn’t just about voting; it’s about everything to protect the best interests of the people, no matter what is their race, gender, political opinion, or religion. These interests can be human rights, quality of life, infrastructure and many more.
Modern democracies divide powers into three different branches : the legislative (the people who make law), the executive (the people who make sure that you obey the law), and the judiciary (who judge you if you commit a crime). These three are independent and work following the process « checks and balances » which means all the work must be clear and fair. And, very important, the people who have power also must follow the law and not exceed their authority.
In addition, a democratic government must work in a way that reflects the wish /feeling/desire and values of the society that it governs—this is also known as the « General Will », which is a concept developed by the famous Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
One of the problems of democratic voting is that the biggest groups of people always have the most power and that’s why a good democracy also has laws to protect the rights of its smaller and weaker groups. A democracy where the majority chooses to separate, set apart, expel or injure its minority is not a functioning democracy!
So, with those mentioned above, what do you think now about democracy? Winston Churchill once said: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Do you agree?
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