Democracy and its implication: a differentiation from authoritarianism

Scientific Essay, 2014

7 Pages

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This proposed study seeks to conduct an in depth analysis on the transition of authoritarian regime to a democratic state. It will also outline the continuation of state building process in a newly independent state. The research focuses on the elaborated role played by the civil society, media and local governance which has made the state’s job easy to eradicate the problems in the path of building of nation.

Keywords: -(Democracy, Authoritarianism, Civil society, Representative, Religion)


Democracy is a worldwide phenomenon. It is nothing but just a form of government. It is quiet apparent that draws its authority directly from the people, remain accountable to the people and works for common interests of the people. Moreover, representative is nothing but just presents the view on behalf of the people and works for their benefit (Becker: 2008). They are also held accountable for their each act to the state. This word has been defined by many political scientists but the most appropriated definition was given by the former president of U.S. Abraham Lincoln as “democracy is of the people, by the people and for the people”.

Emergence of democracy

The term democracy can be traced back to the 6th century B.C. which was found in Athens’s (a Greek city state). The full credit for the invention of the honorific connotation goes to the people of Greek (Eddy: 1995 447). But ironically, Plato a Greek philosopher denounced this as a worst form of government. Deprivation of the minority from the privileges was hisreason for the discontentment over this government. Then Aristotle, even the father of political science placed democracy in the perverted form of government of his six fold classification of government.

There are various theories of democracy. Liberal democracy holds the first position as it is adopted by the western countries such as U.S,Britain, France, Italy, and Germany, etc. Normally in this governmental form individual receives more priority since he is the center of this government. There was restriction of government interference in individual freedom. The government is only allowed to that extent where the citizen needs for its assistance. The prominent exponents of this theory are two liberalist as Jeremy BenthamandJohn Locke. Locke in his master piece “Two treaties (1690)”, states that the government responsibility is to protect the interests and rights of the citizens. Those rights are mainly inherent since birth as right to life, liberty and property (Beetham and Boyle: 1995, 1).

Diversifiedof Democracy

Likewise, French philosopher Jean Jacque Rousseau in his seminal work “Social contract (1762)”, contributed some new thoughts with Locke’s view and suggested for the distinction of religion, state and right of opposition against oppressor. Bentham also defend this government from the utilitarian ground. He expressed his allegiance with Locke. He agreed that liberal democracy would be lies on equal franchise, i.e., one man one vote maxim, regular elections, secret ballot, and rivalry between parties and leaders, majority rule, etc.

Second form of government is Marxist-Leninist democracy. It depends on the principle of dictatorship of proletariat and creates a socialistic society. Economic right of the individual finds more important place than the political right. A very relevant instance of such type of democracy is the Erstwhile Soviet Union.

There is another form of democracy which has been prevailed in third world countries such as Asia, Africa and Latin America. After the independence from the master’s colonial power they have adopted a new type of democracy. The executive power is vested on the military head or on the authoritarian president relegating the political institutions like judiciary or parliament. This type of government is very often occurred in Nepal, Pakistan, Central Asian Republic, Myanmar, North Korea and many other in African and Latin American states (Arblaster: 1997, 59).

In the present trend, democracy is existed on three forms: (1) direct, (2) indirect and (3) constitutional democracy. Theoretically, direct democracy is practiced by the direct involvement of the people in the political system. Since all are played an inclusive role in the state mechanism is only applicable for the small states. For instance, Athens where a state population has been confined to only 5400 according to Plato (Sills: 1972, 167). But the coming of representative democracy due to the increasing population has made direct democracy obsolete. This is a very common form of government where people elect their deputies or representatives to form the government and present their view on their behalf. Regarding the interest of people, such representatives present the public grievances in a thoughtful and systematic manner that requires an investment of time and energy which is often impractical for the vast majority of citizens. Thisis commonly accepted by all over the populated country. Finally, the constitutional democracy has come to counter those previous one. It is a representative form of government where the power of the people enshrined in the constitution designed to provide individual and collective rights of all citizens. This form of democracy has become a role model for all political systems in the world.

Present scenario of Democracy

The current picture of democracy can only be better understood in the work of three twenty first century theorists’ Joseph Schumpeter, C.B. Macpherson and John Burnheim. In the writing of “Capitalism, socialism and democracy” Schumpeter alleged the classical concept of democracy as completely incoherent and unrealistic. And he profoundly defined his understanding of democracy as “…the democratic method is that institutional arrangement for arriving at political decision in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for the political vote”.

But Macpherson’s estimate of democracy is more radically different from Schumpeter than Burnheim. In his master work “Democratic theory: Essays on Retrieval”, he exhibits that the maximization of democracy depends on egalitarian maximization of human powers. In this context power is not mean in a contrasting sense of one man imposing its coercive power over other. Rather democracy in his gesture can only be attained with the cooperation of all members of a community, in an egalitarian manner, achieved maximum development of their power, rational, moral and emotional to narrate only the important human power. However, before pondering much on democracy, let’s illustrate the very concrete meaning of democracy which was coined by Herodotus. He defined the term ‘Demokraia’ from the two Greek words ‘Demos’ meaning ‘people’ more usually ‘common people’ and ‘Kratein’ meaning to rule’.

Being a cumbersome connotation, democracy is widely welcomed by more than half of the world according to the U.N report. Everybody is caught by the catch word of democracy in the contemporary political discourses. It is a concept that resonates in peoples mind and springs from the lips when they struggle for freedom and better way of life. Literally it can be defined as people’s government or ruling by majority. This government is rationally different from other form of government as it derives authority from the people, serves for the interest of the people and execute by the people.

Characteristic of Democracy

Interaction, negotiation and persuasion are certain measures through which it deals with the problem rather than coercion. Voters are the crucial component in democratic process as it depends grossly on the relations between the representative and voters. This is vital provision in democracy which is not prevail in any other form of government. To prove its dynamism it follows various principles like fundamental rights and duties, political parties, freedom of media, independent judiciary and electoral process. All these processes make democracy dynamic and vibrant. The real wave of democracy started in 1970s. In 1975 when there was 68 percent countries of the world were ruled by the dictators, only 26 countries were democratically authorized by the end of the year of 1995 (Smith: 1997, 26). The concept democratization generally concerns to the synonym concepts like continuation, transition, integration and institutionalization. Although these words are seemed to have diverse meaning but in genuine they are co-related. They are interchangeably used in their context. However, democratic transition refers to the meaning that the continuing process of the building of democracy. Literally, we can say that the transition of political system is characterized from a non-democratic to a transparency and accountable government. Representatives are properly elected from the constituency to present the grievance of the public (Gurgel, 2000:2). In the first phase, he spoke about the dissolution of undemocratic process. The second phase includes the establishment of democratic order and finally in the third phase analyses the consolidation and development of democracy.

The significance of democratization is that of such movement is admitted the conversion from less accountable to large accountable or from nuance competitive election to free and fair election and from badly prohibited to better protected civil and political rights, which can successfully be called as democratic transformation. In a nutshell, transition in democratic process is the period of evolutionary shifting from an authoritarian government to an elected government, a practically verifiable, self-preserved stage of democratization paving to the adoption of a new constitution in place.

Challenges to Authoritarianism

So far as building of state is concerned it only takes place in a democratic state. By and large the state hails its authority from people and it is the sole responsibility of the state to be custodian of the life, liberty and property of people. If it fails to discharge its duty then draws upheaval among citizens. This fury is induced detrimental to both the state and the citizens. However, in order to prove democracy successful, it requires the state to be built in a systemic and well-functioning manner. State building is a measure, aims at subside the violence and conciliate the resented people, develop the capacity at all levels to strengthen the conflict measurement lay the foundation for sustainable peace and development. It is a process that helps to enhance the capacity, institution and legitimacy of the state. So regarding to all these, it can be said, the intensity of democracy leads to state consolidation.

There are several mechanism to prove successful to the building processes of state. Among of them good administration, new public management and decentralization are important. Good governance is very widely used for a successful government which can create public institutions that defend people’s rights (Brass: 1991). There has been a change in good governance ideas and as Thomas Kuhn asserts “The dominant good governance paradigm recognizes a series of capabilities that, it argues essential governance capabilities for a market oriented state. These include, in particular, the power to protect property rights, maintain the rule of law, effectively enforce anti-corruption policies and attain government accountability.

Secondly, in new public administration, large bureaucracies within a ministry no longer maintain their hierarchical structure but rather are composed of operational arms of ministries that perform the role of an individual agent. Continental Europe has been more resistant to implementing this type of policy. In developing countries, the implementation of these types of infrastructure has been difficult because the markets for the delivery of services are imperfect and increase the danger of regulatory capture by companies. For successful implementation, governments must have the infrastructure to measure reliable performance indicators and the capacity to regulate the behavior of private providers. In reference to state building approaches decentralization is beneficial because it seeks to reduce rent-seeking behavior and inefficient resource allocation associated with centralized power by dispersing such power to lower levels of government, where the poor are likely to exercise influence and a variety of actors may participate in the provision of services.


So far as democracy is concerned, it is not just a form of government rather a form of society and state. It is a process through which life is regulated and society is constructed within a broader ambiance of democracy. In a democratic state, free and fair election is a device thorough which all the people participate in the governmental process. This is the main option which provides an inclusiveness feeling to the common people in the decision making process. In reference to democracy, the election is based on the principle of universal suffrage. The deputies are accountable to the voters who are the real source of power in a democratic state. Among the significant features of democracy, Political pluralism is a vital of modern democracy. It can conglomerate demands and pronounce interests and interestingly influence governmental policy decision. After the adoption of constitution many political parties have taken birth to articulate and aggregate the demands for the development of society. The presence of multi-party system contributes immensely to a strong and stable democracy.


1. Becker, P And J.A.A.Raveloson (2008), “What Is Democracy? ” in FriedelDiaiber(Ed), Translated By A.R. Alice, Germany: Antananarivo.
2. Eddy Asirvatham, Political Theory (New Delhi, S. Chandand Company Ltd., 1995), p.447.
3. David Beetham and Eevin Boyle, Democracv 80 Questions andAnswers, (New Delhi: National Book Trust, 1995), p.1.
4. Anthony Arblaster, Democracy, (New Delhi, Book LandPublishing Co., 1997), p.59.
5. David L. Sills (ed.) International Encyclopedia of Social Science, The Macmillan Company and the Free Press, NewYork, 1972, vol .. 5, p.167.
6. Anthony D. Smith, Structure and Persistence of Ethnic, in Montserrat Guibernauand.Johnex(eds.) The Ethnicity Reader Nationalism, Multi-culturalism and Migration,(Polity Press, 1997), p.27.
7. Grugel, Jean (2002), Democratization: A Critical Introduction, New York: Palgrave.
8. Paul R. Brass, Ethnicity and Nationalism: Theory andComparison, (New Delhi, Sage Publications, 1991).

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Democracy and its implication: a differentiation from authoritarianism
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Subrat Biswal (Author)IJMR (editor) (Author), 2014, Democracy and its implication: a differentiation from authoritarianism, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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