Features of democracy

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  • What defines a democracy?
    • Peaceful transition of power
      • This is a feature often taken for granted but not guaranteed. It means that those who lose power in democratic means accept the authority of those who have won. Can result in ungraceful conflict
    • Free Elections
      • The description "free" means that all adults are free to vote and stand for office.
      • This is described as "universal suffrage". If significant groups are excluded (women), the elections are not truly free and democracy is flawed.
        • Also, implies there is a "secret ballot"
    • Fair Elections
      • -The definition is that "fair" means that everyone has one vote and all votes are of "equal value".
        • Also, suggests there a safeguards in place to prevent electoral fraud and ballot rigging
      • The broader definition, concerns how the electoral system is used. FPTP?
    • Widespread participation in Politics
      • It is important for the health of democracy that a large proportion of the population participate in politics. A well informed and active population can prevent government becoming too dictatorial
    • Freedom of expression and information
      • Implies a free media and no government censorship or interference.
    • Freedom of association
      • Linked to freedom of expression is freedom of association. In terms of politics, means the ability to form parties and pressure groups.
      • Parties and pressure groups are such vital vehicles for representation and if they were suppressed, democracy would be almost impossible to sustain.
    • Protection of rights and liberties
      • Linked to freedom of expression and association.The ECHR is an example
    • The Rule of Law
      • This is the basic principle that all citizens should be treated equally under the law and that the government itself should be subject to the same laws as its citizens. Lined to limited government.
    • Independent Judiciary
      • The existence of the rule of law implies an independent judiciary. It is a key role of the judiciary in a democracy to ensure that the rule of law is upheld.
      • Therefore nudges must be independent from government and whole of politics. This ensures each citizen is treated equally under law.
    • Limited government and constitutionalism
      • Democracy is at risk if there are not firm limits to the power of government. Without these government may set aside democratic principles. This sets limit to the governmental power.


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