From the point of view of rulers, the forms of government are: monarchy, aristocracy, dictatorship, and democracy. If the head of state is designated on the basis of hereditary succession, the form will be a monarchy. If a person gets hold of political power as a usurper, generally through a military coup, and assumes political authority, the government can be called a dictatorship. The assumption and exercise of political authority by a few elite people due to their distinctive position in society is termed aristocracy. In a democratic form of government, people have political participation either directly or through their elected representatives.
The term "democracy" comes from the Greek words "Demos" and "kratia," which mean "people" and "government," respectively. In simple language, it means the government of the people. It is a political system where people participate in politics. According to Ebrahim Lincoln, "Democracy is the government of the people, for the people, and by the people." Similarly, according to Prof. Seeley, "Democracy provides a form of government in which every citizen participates in governmental affairs". Different
political thinkers defined democracy in their own words. Many countries now have a democratic system, like Britain, Pakistan, India, and America.
Democracy was introduced in the Greek state of Athens. People were directly involved in politics due to their small population. All citizens could not participate in politics. Slaves, women, and traders remained indifferent to politics. With the passage of time, all citizens started to participate in politics irrespective of cast, colour, sex, and race.
Some advantages of democracy have been given below.
1) A democracy has popular government. is a popular government.
Democracy provides opportunities for all individuals to participate in decision making. J.S. Mill has rightly said that people's interests and rights are better safeguarded when they themselves stand up for their protection.
2) The socialisation process
Political participation on a popular basis makes people politically conscious and inculcates a sense of responsibility in their character. Political parties play an important role in the socialisation of people. It is true that some politicians mislead the people, but by passing through the electoral process regularly they become politically mature.
3) A change in the government.
In a democratic governmental system, no class or any group has a claim to political power on a permanent basis. Change in government is regarded as an essential feature made possible through free and regular elections. The tenure of government is fixed, and after the expiry of that period, the representatives have to go to the people to get a fresh mandate.
4) Accountability in politics
The people's representatives exercise political power, but they are also accountable to the electorate. In every system, the proper devices are adopted to make the government accountable to the people. Democracy, in fact, stands for limited government as all organs of government generally derive their authority from the constitution and move within the limitations imposed by constitutional law. Moreover, different organs of government do not exercise equal powers, as there are variations in this respect.
5) Dependable government.
Democracy promotes political stability and eliminates the danger of coups, as a peaceful transfer of power is possible through constitutional means. A government remains in power as long as it continues to command the confidence of the people; otherwise, it will be replaced by others.
6) Legislation and the public interest
Representatives of the people keep in mind the people's interests when they make laws. The fear of the people in the forthcoming election keeps them on the right track. People also follow the laws that reflect their wishes.
Most of the other kinds of government, such as monarchy or aristocracy, are formed on the basis of hereditary principles and provide no criteria to judge the capability of the rulers. In a democracy, individuals are elected to different political offices by virtue of their political experience and competence. In this way, those people are elected on the basis of their capability to rule.
According to a political analysis, British Prime Ministers and American Presidents have always been people who served in their respective legislatures for a long time and thus gained a lot of political experience before ascending to the highest political office.
A political system structured on a popular basis increases a sense of patriotism in people. A feeling among the people, signifying that they are the kingmakers and the government is accountable to them, acts as an impetus for promoting responsibility and self-reliance. It also promotes patriotism. It is said that the sense of patriotism that was developed in the French people after the revolution was rarely perceived prior to that. The main cause of this change in their national character was the recognition and enforcement of political rights.
9) Economic equity. In order for economic justice to exist and
justice to be enforced more effectively in a democratic system, the government has to look after the interests of all classes. Modern governments are expected to perform welfare functions while reliance on the state's action has tremendously increased.
10) Rule of the majority
All decisions in a democratic system are taken on the basis of the majority principle, and all such decisions are regarded as the manifestation of popular will. Commenting on popular participation, Aristotle remarks that when the people participate in deliberation and discussion, better decisions can be arrived at, as every citizen, through his opinion, renders his intellectual contribution. This decision is the embodiment of the collective wisdom.
11) Expression freedom Freedom of expression has been regarded as the backbone of the modern democratic style.
The formulation and expression of public opinion is made possible through the recognition of this right. Healthy criticism of government policies is thought to be necessary for democracy to function properly.
(12) Political parties
Political parties play an important role in the socialisation of people. They change people's wishes into policies. Modern representative democracy can not work effectively without political parties.
Lord Bryce observes that history provides clear evidence that no other government has performed these functions more appropriately than the democratic government. For example, Athens and Rome, for example, contributed a lot to the advancement of human civilisation when they were under a democratic system. Similarly, the period of the 19th century under Liberalism was much better and more prosperous than that of the 18th century under the oligarchic rule of the Whig Party in Britain.
It cannot, however, be denied that every form of government has certain shortcomings. A government is an integral part of a society. The weaknesses in the national character of a people are fully reflected in the workings of their government as well. Nevertheless, it is an undeniable fact that the democratic system of government is still the best of all other forms of government.
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