Categories
Civic Education

Democracy

According to Abraham Lincoln, democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people.

This is the system of government in which people exercise their political power through periodic election of leaders by themselves or their representative.

The word democracy was traceable to ancient Greek . The word DEMO and KRATIA which form democracy means people and government.

Characteristics of Democracy

  1. Regular and periodic election: Democracy give room for periodic election so as to elect new leaders.
  2. Fundamental human right: Democracy guarantees and respects the human right as stated in the constitution.
  3. Party system: This system of government allows different political party system to compete for power during election.
  4. Freedom of the press: Under democratic system of government all the media houses are free to express their opinions and feelings through writing or any means.
  5. The judicial arm of government is independence and free of other arms of government
  6. Rule of law: there is equality before the law; no one is above the law under democratic system of government.

Types of Democracy

There are two types of Democracy, which are

  1. Direct Democracy: This is the system of government where everybody is involved in governing the country. It is a system whereby all citizens meet together periodically for the purpose of governing the country.
  2. Indirect Democracy: This is a system of government where citizens choose their representatives to rule on their behalf. This is also called representative democracy. This system of government is practiced in Nigeria, Ghana, U.S.A etc.

Importance of Democracy

  • It creates opportunity for everybody in a place to have a say in the government of a state or a nation
  • Everybody has a right to make suggestions
  • Everyone has a right to nominate a person for election
  • There is freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to education

Problems of Democracy

Shortsightedness

Democratic politicians are elected for a short period of time (4 – 5 years). This election cycle causes them not to think “what is best for the country in the long run” but “what is best in the country in 4 – 5 years so I can claim responsibility and get elected again.” Therefore unpopular solution of long term problems are postponed since it would be unpopular by the voters.

Populism

This is connected to the first problem. Democracy has elections and for the politician to be elected he has to be popular. Basically democracy is a giant popularity contest where the elections aren’t won by the wisest, smartest or most intelligent but by the most popular one. So the politician has to give the people gifts so he would stay popular.

Selfishness

The third problem is connected to the previous two. In a dictatorship or authoritarian regime you can tell people that they would’ve to live more modest now because the state (religion, nation…) requires it. But in democracy? People are very greedy, think only about themselves and their rights. So they wouldn’t live more modest for the sake of the greater good. Instead they will oust the politician who tells them that and elect a new one who will tell them that everything is alright.

ASSESSMENT

  1. Define Democracy
  2. What are the characteristics of Democracy?
  3. List the types of Democracy
  4. Mention the importance of Democracy

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