Politics is an all reaching being that touches everything in our society and life. People may not want to admit that but in one way or another there was something political about what has happened in their lives. One political idea that has potentially more discussion, ideas about and historical significance is democracy. The very meaning of democracy is not universally accepted and how democracy is supposed to function and its relationship with the people is not agreed on either.
Democracy is a complicated ideology to grasp not least because it is a rather personal thing, it means things to different people. As a result of this it has transpired to take many different forms across different nations all over the world. It has even gone beyond having different meanings in different nations but it is common to hear terms such as ‘Liberal Democracy’ and ‘Western Democracy’. Democracy has even reached into specific ideological and geographical positions.
To fully go into the extant the democracy touches a book of many of hundreds of pages would be needed so for the purposes of this article I shall break it down to what is perceived by its core principles and definitions.
Firstly, democracy is whereby you have system of free and fair elections in which the electorate (or the people) get to vote for people they wish to represent them in a national decision making body. Democracy is also taken to mean that it is a system whereby decision making is based on majority rule. Further definitions include that political equality must be in place and every decision within the political system must take into account the expressed interests of every citizen. In congruent to this is that alongside the political equality aspect there must also be ‘effective participation’, ‘enlightened understanding’ and a ‘control of the agenda’ and all of these aspects together form what is known as ‘Procedural Democracy’.
Secondly you have an idea of democracy whereby it is made up of two components; an ideal of an equal distribution of power to make decisions and an equality of participation in collective judgement. These together make what is known as ‘Deliberative Democracy’.
It is clear now that democracy is an abstract idea and the theories of what some see of democracy set out above are but a few of the ideas that exist across the world. People reading this will all have their own interpretations of what they feel democracy to be and how it works and what they feel it should do for them in their individual lives.
When looking at if specific nations are democracies or not it is dependent and what definition of democracy you are taking. For example, the United States cannot be considered a Deliberative Democracy as in contemporary times there is not an equality of participation and certainly there is no equal distribution of power. On the other hand, it is possible to label the US a Representative Democracy as elections take place for the people to elect their representatives and this happens at community, state and federal levels.
In attempting to find if ‘true democracy’ exists and if it doesn’t, is it obtainable? For it to be obtainable, a universally accepted definition of democracy will have to be made that can be applied to all nations and political system across the world. Without sounding too pessimistic, this is never going to happen. The only way in which this could be achieved is if there was also a universal system of society, religion and politics across the world.
With such differences across all nations, nationalities, races, religions, ethnicity etc., a universal definition and acceptance is not possible or at best extremely unlikely.
The closest thing that can be achieved to a ‘true democracy’ is by having democracy itself; whatever interpretation and application of it, as being accepted as the true and proper method of all political applications. Having democracy as an ideology universally accepted and the eradication of authoritarianism and autocracy, democracy will take its rightful place as being ‘true’.