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Hown Does Democracy Happen? Essay

1501 words - 6 pages

Democracy (“rule by the people” when translated) comes from the Greek language. In ancient Greece, where popular government first appeared around 500 B.C., these systems were called democracies. (Dahl, 78) Those called “democracies” in classical antiquity advocates in both theory and practice of becoming modern democracies. Since the end of Cold War era, the modern civilizations strive to create, or preserve democracy as one of the ultimate ideals. (Shah) Accordingly, a number of democracies have flowered in East Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America and enough have floundered to spark a vigorous debate about what it takes to create a lasting liberal order.(Patten, 1) Even the Middle East – the Arab World is slightly on the road to democratizing since the Arab Spring. How does democracy happen? In this essay, I would like to focus on the fundamental principles of democracy according to the Schmitter and Karl’s article “What Democracy Is … and Is Not”, and would like to examine the emergence of democracy according to the article “Economic Development and Democracy” by Seymour Martin Lipset, “Bowling Alone” by Robert Putnam and “Why Democracies Survive” by Larry Diamond.
First of all, let explore the concepts of democracy that Schmitter and Karl explain. They highlighted the definition of the democracy as “Modern political democracy is a system of governance in which rulers are held accountable for their actions in the public realm by citizens, acting indirectly through the competition and cooperation of their elected representatives.” (Schmitter and Karl, 76) The authors believe that there are various kinds of democracies, but there must be some "procedural minimum" conditions for democracy. They agree with the elements that defined by the prominent political scientist Robert A. Dahl’s polyarchy which are: opportunities to oppose the government, right to form political organizations, right to express oneself on political matters without fear of governmental reprisals, to read and hear alternative points of view, vote by secret ballot in elections in which candidates of different parties compete for votes and after which the losing candidates peacefully yield their claim to office to the winners, etc. In addition, according to Schmitter and Karl, there should be principles such as “elected officials can exercise constitutional powers without subjecting to overriding opposition from unelected officials and must act independently from an overarching political system”.(81) If the mentioned principles are fulfilled in the sovereign nations, they can identify as having feasible democratic political systems. On the other hand, the authors reject some of the norms that people believes democracy should have provide. They argued that democracies are not necessarily more economic efficient, not necessarily more efficient administratively and not likely to appear more orderly or stable than autocracy. (Schmitter and Karl, 85-86) Consequently, a nation...

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