Series of articles

DEMOCRACY. DEFINITION, CHARACTERISTICS AND FORMS OF MODERN DEMOCRACY

The term "democracy" originates from the antiquity and denotes "people`s power" (from the Greek: demos – "people" and kratos –"power"). It has become the most widely spread in politics. But as a result of wide use it lost the clear content. Up to now, political science has not worked out common approaches to state the definition of democracy. Different authors just specificate separate components of democracy, for example, the power of majority, its limitation and controlling, the basic laws of citizens, law and social statehood, separation of powers, general elections, publicity, competitive ability among various opinions and positions, pluralism, parity, participation, etc.

Thereafter, the democracy is interpreted in several senses: the first one is wide sense, a public system based on voluntariness within all forms of life activity; the second one is narrower sense, a form of state where people have got equal rights for power (unlike monarchy where only a single person or the aristocracy is vested with power, and where the governing is centralized in hands of a group of persons). The above said is the ancient interpretation of democracy originated from Herodotus (5th century BC); the third sense, the democracy is recognized as an ideal model of social structure, a certain world outlook based on values of freedom, equality of rights, human rights. Individuals and groups advocating these values form the movement for their realization. In this meaning the term "democracy" is regarded as a social movement, as a form of political orientation, integrated into programs of some parties.

Current interpretations the term of "democracy" implies a certain power system; in essence it represents a form of organization of political life that reflects free and competitive public choice of any alternative of social development. With the participation of all segments of population in ruling activities the democracy is open for all variants of social choice. The democracy is a way of political system functioning, a way of social life organization based on recognition of people as the source of power, its rights to participate in solution of state and public affairs, and on vesting citizens with wide enough range of rights and freedoms.

The common features of democracy, as a modern constitutional order and regime of political system functioning, are as below:

- recognition of people as the source of the state power. The power of people implies that it forms the state power by elections and directly participates in its implementation (with the help of referenda, local authorities as well as through representative bodies);

- alternate electivity and replacement of central and local authorities with their accountability to the electorate;

- declaration and ensuring rights and freedoms of man and citizen. A specific meaning for the full-fledged functioning democratic political system ensures the rights of people of participating in management of state affairs – elective franchise, the right to form political parties and other types of associations, freedom of speech and opinions, information right, etc;

- decision-making by the majority and minority`s submission in implementing them;

- society`s democratic control of security ministries, used according to their intended purpose and within the law;

- domination of persuasive, coordinating and compromising methods, non-violence, non-compulsion, non-suppression;

- real implementation of principles of constitutional state including separation of powers principle.


Depending on the form of implementation of peoples` sovereignty, the democracy can be subdivided into direct, plebiscitary and representative.

The modern democracy is defined as pluralistic one and in this sense it is based on diversity (pluralism – from the Latin pluralis – multiple) of public interests (economic, social, cultural, religious, ethnic, group, regional, etc.) and forms of their expression (political parties, public organization, movements, etc.).

Pluralistic feature of modern democracy is in connection with the fact that people, as the supreme power bearer, represents itself as a totality of groups – social, occupational, ethnic, demographic, territorial, religious, etc. An individual as a constituent part of people realizes its political personality through the participation of various interest groups.

The politics is taken as a field of intergroup cooperation of competition, struggle, and compromises, while the democracy is seen as a form of governing that allows various social groups to express freely their interests and find out compromise solutions in competitive struggle. In this case the state is responsible for robust functioning of all sectors of social system and maintaining social justice. The state indeed as an arbiter that ensures observance of law, rules of the game in competition of groups, barring the power from monopolization.

Modern democracy has many advantages. Firstly, that is particularly important for the majority of modern states; the democracy supports civil society, i.e. under democracy any state cares about the rights and responsibilities of all the citizens. Secondly, the democracy gives each citizen a chance to break into the top echelons of power. Thirdly, the democracy ensures relative state stability (at this stage of history – world`s stability).

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