Civic Education

Constitutional Democracy

Meaning and Types of Constitutional Democracy

Features of Constitutional Democracy

Functions of Constitutional Democracy

Meaning of Constitutional Democracy 

Democracy is government of, by, and for the people. It is government of a community in which all citizens, rather than favored individuals or groups, have the right and opportunity to participate. In a democracy, the people are sovereign. The people are the ultimate source of authority.

In a constitutional democracy the authority of the majority is limited by legal and institutional means so that the rights of individuals and minorities are respected. This is the form of democracy practiced in Germany, Israel, Japan, the United States, and other countries.

Constitutional democracy is the type of democracy where powers of the majority are exercised within a frame work of the constitution designed to guarantee the majority right.

In this type of democracy, how the people are to be ruled and governed are stated in the constitution. Constitutional democracy is the type which operates from and according to the constitution of the states.

Types of Constitutional Democracy

  1. Pluralism: This type of constitutional democracy in which majority of the people are allowed to exercise their views, opinions and idea. It gives room for wide participation of the citizens.
  2. Republican constitutional democracy: This type of democracy allows for proceedings on issues that concerns state alone. It includes all the people of a state but only on the issues that concern the state alone. Examples of countries that practice this are India, France, and Ireland.
  3. Constitutional Direct: This fashion all its progressions and procedures according to the constitution of the state and allow the direct participation in the political affairs.

Features of Constitutional Democracy

  1. CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY is the antithesis of arbitrary rule. It is democracy characterized by: POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY. The people are the ultimate source of the authority of the government which derives its right to govern from their consent.
  2. MINORITY RIGHTS. Although “the majority rules,” the fundamental rights of individuals in the minority are protected. Minority right: Under constitutional democracy, the rights of the voiceless or the unprivileged are well secured through the constitution.
  3. LIMITED GOVERNMENT. The powers of government are limited by law and a written or unwritten constitution which those in power obey. Limited Government: The government in constitutional democracy is limited unlike that of other forms of democracy in which government can be dissolved at any time.
  4. INSTITUTIONAL AND PROCEDURAL LIMITATIONS ON POWERS. There are certain institutional and procedural devices which limit the powers of government. These may include:
  5. SEPARATED AND SHARED POWERS. Powers are separated among different agencies or branches of government. Each agency or branch has primary responsibility for certain functions such as legislative, executive, and judicial functions. However, each branch also shares these functions with the other branches.
  6. CHECKS AND BALANCES. Different agencies or branches of government have adequate power to check the powers of other branches. Checks and balances may include the power of judicial review. At the power of courts to declare actions of other branches of government to be contrary to the constitution and therefore null and void.
  7. DUE PROCESS OF LAW. Individual rights to life, liberty, and property are protected by the guarantee of due process of law.
  8. LEADERSHIP SUCCESSION THROUGH ELECTIONS. Elections insure that key positions in government will be contested at periodic intervals and that the transfer of governmental authority is accomplished in a peaceful and orderly process.
  9. Popular Sovereignty: In constitutional democracy, the people are seen as the louder voice of the government of a state, this makes the will of the electorate to prevail.
  10. Basic freedom: The constitution allows the people to know their rights and ensure that their rights are protected; there is basic freedom of interference from the people in the affairs of government
  11. Majority rule: This is the rule that gives the majority the chance to express their views and opinions in the affair of the government. Majority rule gives leadership rights to the people and thereby gain the full support and recognition of the masses.

Functions of Constitutional Democracy

  1. They provide social amenities like water, electricity, etc for the people.
  2. They protect the citizens against internal and external attack
  • They make Law and Execute them
  1. They promote national unity
  2. They respect the dignity of individual
  3. They protect the right of individual in the country
  • Organizational constituted authorities: These are leaders of business organizations, clubs political parties or social gatherings.

Functions of Organizational Constituted Authority.

  1. They cater for the interest of their members
  2. They make decision and policies for their members
  3. They protect the right of their members
  4. They represent their organizations in any relevant event in the society.


  1. Define constitutional democracy
  2. What are the types of constitutional democracy?
  3. What are the features of constitutional democracy?
  4. What are the functions of constitutional democracy?

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