Factors that promote democracy: Before the thorough review of the factors affecting democracy generally, it is pertinent for us to consider the meaning of the concept “democracy” so as to know what its promotional factors are all about. This is also important because the concept cuts across the nooks and cranny of the world as long as the populace is concerned.
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What is democracy?
Democracy as it is developed today, is a government whereby the people or populace are empowered in order to exercise political control, limit the power of the head of state or president, provide for the separation of powers between the entities of the government, and ensure the protection of their natural rights and civil liberties.
This implies that democracy has to do with the people deriving absolute powers or control from their fundamental human rights and exercising them in the political activities of their country even more than the president. It also implies that there are many forms or aspects whereby the people can exercise the powers of democracy which can be direct or representative. It comes from the Greek words “dēmos” (people) and “karatos” (rule).
Today, democracy can be derived from: the liberal participation of the people in political activities, the constitution of the country providing for it (as it is in section 14(1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended), or Parliaments (for the countries that have parliamentary government). It also means “rule by the people,” in that it empowers the people individually to exercise political control over the activities or functions of their government.
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Today, in some countries where Lawmakers make laws in order to represent the wishes of the people (as in nigeria), such laws and policies are created by electing representatives in a democracy strive to balance conflicting demands and obligations to maximize freedom and protect individual rights while in some other countries like: China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran democracies, irrespective of the prominence in the headlines of non-democratic or authoritarian states, their governments remain the world’s most commonly practiced in terms of democracy.
The United States constitution established the doctrine of birthright citizenship in that any person born in the U.S automatically becomes a U.S. citizen and has full democracy as a citizen while the democracies of other countries are more restrictive in bestowing full citizenship.
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Elements/principles of democracy in every State
Recently, there are some elements which shows that democracy actually exists in a State or country and the absence of any affects democracy in such State. They are:
1. Popular sovereignty: This principle means that the government is created and maintained by the consent of the people through their elected representatives.
2. Public Participation: It means that democracies rarely survive without the active participation of the people. It has to do with different facets of democracy which enable and encourage the people to take part in the political and civic processes of the country.
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3. Separation of Powers: Based on a suspicion of power concentrated in a single individual (like a king or group), the constitutions of most democracies provide that political powers be separated and shared among the various arms of the government and it also entails that in order to prevent abuse of democratic processes, each arm will serve as a watchdog to another in that such arm will monitor or check the functions of the other arms all in the aim of protecting the absolute right of the people in political activities.
4. An Electoral System: Since according to the principle of popular sovereignty, the people are the source of all political power, a clearly defined system of conducting free and fair elections is essential in that the people can freely or voluntarily vote in their choice of candidate in power.
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5. Human Rights: Along with their constitutionally enumerated rights and freedoms, democracies protect the human rights of all citizens. In this context, human rights are those rights considered inherent to all human beings, regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other considerations.
6. Rule of Law: Also called due process of law, the rule of law is the principle that all citizens are accountable to laws that are publicly created and equitably enforced in a manner consistent with human rights by an independent judicial system.
Now let us see some of the factors that can promote democracy in every State or country recently.
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4 (Four) Factors that Promote Democracy
1. Development of constitutions and legislations: The constitution is the basic and fundamental law of any country and as such, its provisions have to support and gear towards the power of the people to direct the political leadership of their country (which is democracy) with the support of some other special legislations which address special political issues of the country. So if the constitution has an undemocratic provision, it will definitely affect the right of the people to rule the people by democracy.
So, in order to promote democracy in that country or region, the constitution must be amended or developed so as to give the people political sovereignty in electing their representatives in government.
2. Promotion of good and accountable democratic processes: In order to promote the democracy of a given people, the citizens of the country must be encouraged so as to participate in the political and electoral processes of that country and this can be done by enhancing their civil society organizations and media capacities to disseminate information, strengthen election institutions and other government bodies to administer credible elections, and encouraging political parties to contribute to peaceful and inclusive political and electoral processes.
By this, there will also be voluntary political participation by the people. This also includes that there must be measures in place to promote peaceful elections (as it is also a form of democratic processes) whenever the need for elections arise and one of such measures is providing support to the election observers. So, where there is no peaceful election, automatically there is no democracy as the election will not be free and fair for the people.
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3. Promotion of civil education: This is so important because in a country where the majority of the citizens acquired civil and basic education or civil capacity building trainings, it goes a long way to empower them as to their democratic rights and helps them implement their freedom of expression (as one of their fundamental human rights) as citizens or indigenes of that country or location respectively and effectively.
4. Quick response to violent conflicts: In a country or area where there is violent conflicts and there is no provision on how to prevent it completely, the voice of the people in such country or locality cannot be heard and valued by their government because a government that carries it’s citizens along in matters pertaining to them will not allow harm or violence (whether internal or external violence) to occur to the people in such country at all and one of the ways by which this can be achieved is by advising their government on potential points on the causes of those conflicts.
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In the world today, the quest for democracy is at its peak because every nation wants to be involved and to be part of the decision making processes of their nation or territory. That is why the discussion on these recent factors in promoting democracy are important and if these factors are considered by the countries of the world, the concept of democracy will take effect and the political wishes of the people will materialize and take effect equally and automatically.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.