Democracy is a widely acknowledged form of political government under which the power to govern is sourced from the people either by a conducting a direct referendum or through an election of various representatives. In the 5th century BC, the Greeks coined this system of government that vests all power to decide as to who shall rule squarely on the people. This system chiefly asserts on equality and freedom as its mainstream virtues. Therefore, citizens are viewed as having equal access to power and deemed as equal before the law. Therefore, every man is entitled to one vote with an equal weight. These rights and liberties practiced by the citizens within such a state are secured by a constitution. Although this system of government implies multiple freedoms to its citizens, it can end up failing and becoming cumbersome to the subjects if proper checks and balances are not put in place to constantly keep the leaders in track. Therefore, an in-depth analysis of democracy has been carried out herein by evaluating the pros and cons of this system. (Strong, 1998)
There are numerous merits as to why a democracy should be the system of choice in governance. First, smooth transitory changes can take place in government without violence. This is enabled through free and fair elections whereby the citizens determine the ruling authority by simple majority. Secondly, democracy prevents monopoly of any one ruling authority. This is since the incumbent government has to compete with other parties and personalities after expiration of its term. This therefore ensures that the ruling authority works for the people and towards their needs or leave office due to the failure to be re-elected.
Thirdly, a democracy serves as motivational factor to the people. This is since the government is obligated towards its citizens. By carrying out of all its duties and goals set which are supported by the majority, the people feel appreciative and encouraged to work even harder towards attaining a better economic status. Finally, a democratic government makes the citizens have a feeling of participation and ‘ownership.’ They feel that the government has been legally elected by them and that it is theirs. They are able to express their freedom of choice and opinion through the ballot box or voting process. This has the capacity of enhancing nationalism. (Kukathas, 2004)
Despite all these merits, there are various demerits and criticisms that have been put forward against democracies. These have been based on the irrational voters who are widely perceived that they are poorly informed on political, social and economic issues.
First, democracies have been deemed to be politically unstable. Though the government is elected in by the majority, during its term, opponents and the media frequently challenge the ruling authority which could lead to a sudden change in the political support. This goes a long way in discouraging foreign investment and economic growth. (Zorach, 2010)
Secondly, democracies have been characterized by short terms. This is especially the case after elections and there is no clear winner leading to formation of coalitions due to the fact that democracies are not after the ideological match but the support of the majority. Any imbalance in the treatment of principal partners may lead to withdrawal from the coalition hence the collapse of the government leading to another election.
Thirdly, the democratic governments are slow in responding to key issues in the society. This is because decisions are carried out through consensus rather than a unilateral system that would otherwise speed up decision making.
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