How Democratic Is Guatemala? Essay

867 words - 3 pages

Guatemala What is Democracy? According to Freedom House, a research organization, which gives country ratings on how democratic they are, gives Guatemala a 4.0 on a scale from 1 to 7. Because of this, Guatemala is considered partially democratic. Gregory Mahler states that there are five characteristics of democracy. These characteristics tell how democratic a country is by means of elections, representation, participation, pluralism, and individual, social, and human rights. Of these characteristics; elections, representation, and participation consider Guatemala to be democratic. On the other hand, Guatemala is democratically lacking in pluralism and human rights. Because of this, Guatemala leans more towards a conservative authoritarian regime. Guatemala's elections are considered democratic and fair. According to Gregory Mahler an election is a "selection of government elite by mass suffrage with free choice, turnover, and elections at regular intervals" (Mahler). Elections in Guatemala occur every four years and the presidential and congressional elections occur at the same time (World Encyclopedia of Parliament and Legislation, 294). The elections are decided by a council called the "supreme electoral tribunal" (World Encyclopedia of Parliament and Legislation, 294). The right to vote is shared by Guatemalans because of the universal suffrage law that is in effect. This law states that anyone who is over the age of eighteen, a citizen of Guatemala, not an active member of the military, not a government contractor, not a relative of the president or vice president, or a person convicted of a crime is able to vote in the elections in Guatemala (World Encyclopedia of Parliament and Legislation, 294). The constitution in Guatemala "banned coup leaders from the countries top spot" (Koehl). The elections in Guatemala are very close to that of any other democratic country. Representation in Guatemala is like a replica of the presidential system. According to Gregory Mahler proper representation in a democracy is a "basis of legitimacy/support is that the people are represented by governing elite through elections" (Mahler). Proportional representation is when there are congressional districts throughout a country and by population it is decided how many representatives are from each district. In Guatemala's case for every 80,000 people there is one representative (World Encyclopedia of Parliament and Legislation, 294). Representation in Guatemala is very democratic and is supported among the people. Gregory Mahler defines participation in a democratic society as "people have the right to participate and are expected to participate. Access to decision makers is...

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