Constitutional democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people which is based on the supremacy of the constitution. It can also be explained as a democratic system in which the will of the people prevail, their fundamental human rights recognized and protected, and the principle of rule of law strictly adhered to. It is a form of democracy founded, operated and controlled by the provisions of the constitution.
TYPES OF CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY
- DIRECT DEMOCRACY
This is also known as classical democracy. It is a form of democracy in which all adult citizens take active part in the management and political running of the state. This type of democracy was practiced in Athens, the ancient city of Greece.
- INDIRECT DEMOCRACY
This is also called representative democracy. This form of democracy is built on the principle of majority rule because it allows a few elected representatives to make decisions and formulate policies on behalf of the people. In other words, a representative democracy is a type of democracy in which registered and qualified electorates vote during election to determine who will represent their interest in government.
Representative government becomes important and replaces direct democracy as a result of the complexity in the structure and system of the modern state or society which has made the direct form of democracy in-appropriate and ineffective. Virtually all states in the world practicing democracy today operates a representative democracy.
- What is constitutional democracy?
- Explain indirect democracy.
FEATURES OF CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY
- POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY
In a constitutional democracy, the people possess the final political authority in making decisions that relate to public issues. They also have the power to remove any of their representatives that fails to represent their interest in government by not voting for such candidates in subsequent elections. Thus, the citizens’ opinions should be respected in a true democracy.
- MAJORITY RULE
Democracy is a game of number, the candidate who enjoys popular acceptance by getting the highest vote usually wins election. The principle of majority rule further explains that government decisions must reflect popular interests and opinion of the people.
- MINORITY RIGHT
In a true democracy, majority have their way and minority have their say. The interest and opinion of the people who are in the minority group is usually unpopular and as a result they tend to be intimidated. However, constitutional democracy ensures that the minority interest is protected and their opinion listened to. It also ensures that everybody in the state enjoys their fundamental human rights as provided by the constitution.
- RULE OF LAW
Constitutional democracy operates with the principle of rule of law which states that everybody is equal before the law and that the law of a state is supreme.
- PERIODIC ELECTION
Constitutional democracy is characterized by a regular and periodic election. This election must be free and fair, and the electoral body must be allowed to operate independently without interference.
- EQUAL ACCESS TO POLITICAL OPPORTUNITIES
In constitutional democracy, everybody has equal rights to vote and contest during election. The voting during election must be one man, one vote. Also, sex and socio-economic status should not be used as a means of political discrimination.
- INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY
The judiciary in a constitutional democracy operates as an independent body which is free from the influence of the executive and legislative arms of government.
ADVANTAGES OF CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY
- IT ALLOWS FOR PEACEFUL CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT
In a constitutional democracy, elections are conducted within a regular interval as stipulated by the constitution and this makes it easy to change a government.
- IT ALLOWS THE PEOPLE TO CHOOSE THEIR LEADERS
Democracy gives people the opportunity of voting during elections for candidates of their choice. The candidate with the highest vote wins the election and form government.
- IT PROTECTS THE FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS OF PEOPLE
There are certain rights or benefits endowed naturally on every individual as citizens of a state, these rights could be economic rights, social rights and political rights. These rights are popularly called fundamental human rights and it is the function of every government to recognize and protect these rights. Constitutional democracy ensures that people enjoy their rights to the maximum.
- IT PROMOTES POPULAR PARTICIPATION
Constitutional democracy encourages peoples’ participation in government through voting and contesting for political post during election. Popular participation also involves peaceful protest or demonstration, criticism of government policy and joining or forming political parties.
- IT PROMOTES GOOD GOVERNANCE
Since elected leaders know that they can easily be voted out of office once they lose popular acceptance or legitimacy, effort is mad by the government to promote the interest of the people who elected them into office by delivering the dividends of democracy. Therefore, government in a constitutional democracy is accountable to the people.
- IT PROMOTES DEVELOPMENT
In a situation where there is free and fair election, good governance is enhanced and those in government feel a sense of responsibility to the electorates who voted them into power. This therefore brings about socio-economic development in the country and improved standard of living.
Explain the advantages of constitutional democracy.
DISADVANTAGES OF CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY
Even though democracy is believed to be the best form of government, it has some disadvantages which are as follows:
- IT IS EXPENSIVE TO RUN
A democratic system of government requires periodic election which is very expensive to organize and conduct because it involves registering of voters, provision of electoral materials, recruitment of electoral officials etc.
- DELAY IN POLICY MAKING
In a democratic system of government, there are due process to be followed before policies can be made. At times, it can take the legislative arm of government several months before they pass bills into law and this may not be good for situations or issues that requires urgent attention or for emergency periods.
- MINORITY CANNOT HAVE THEIR WAY IN A DEMOCRACY
It does not matter how brilliant the idea and opinion of the minority is, they can only have their say in a democracy they cannot have their way. This is because democracy is a game of numbers where majority have their way and minority only have their say. Therefore, many quality policies have been swept under the carpet because they originated from the minority group and did not gain popular support and acceptance.
- INABILITY OF THE ELECTORATE TO REMOVE A BAD GOVERNMENT UNTIL ELECTION PERIOD
The electorates may vote a person into power and later discover that he or she is a bad leader. When such situations occur, the electorates can only wait till the next election and then vote the person out of office. Thus, some political leaders take advantage of this to do whatever they like knowing that there is nothing the people can do or the worst they can do is not to be re-elected into office. Hence, they use their period in office to exploit the country’s wealth and resources for their selfish interest.
What are the demerits of constitutional democracy?
- Explain the advantages of constitutional democracy.
- What are the disadvantages of constitutional democracy?
- Define value.
- State the types of value.
- What is citizenship education?
Fundamentals of Civic Education for Senior Secondary Schools Book 3, Sola Akinyemi.Pg 90.
- Another name for an electorate is a/an ___(a) candidate (b) electoral officer (c) voter
- ___ is a body of law, rules and regulations that guides the governing of a state (a) Constitution (b) Law (c) Customs
- Which of these is not a feature of constitutional democracy? (a) Popular sovereignty (b) Minority rule (c) Supremacy of the constitution
- Which of these is currently an electoral commission in Nigeria? (a) FADECO (b) NEC (c) INEC
- People who assume position of constituted authority are called (a) followers (b) leaders (c) workers
- Identify eight key concepts in a democracy.
- Explain any five of the concepts you have listed above.
- What is democracy?
- State the features of constitutional democracy.
- Define constitutional democracy.
- Explain the features of constitutional democracy
- Give four advantages of this system of government.
- Mention five causes of cultism.
- How can the problem of cultism be solved?
Fundamentals of Civic Education for Senior Secondary Schools Book 3, Sola Akinyemi.Pg. 89.
- An organization that can present candidates for election is called (a) pressure group (b) political party (c) electoral commission
- The act of choosing a leader by voting is called (a) franchise (b) appointment (c) election
- ___ is a document that contains the name and details of people who are qualified to vote during election (a) ballot paper (b) ballot box (c) voters register
- Which of these forms of government best promote the principle of rule of law? (a) democracy (b) monarchy (c) oligarchy
- Democracy means ___ (a) rule by the rich people (b) rule by a few people (c) rule by the people
- State the types of constitutional democracy.
- Explain four features of constitutional democracy.
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