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Political Science Essay

3484 words - 14 pages

Winston Churchill, a prominent British politician, once said in the 1940s: “The democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried”. At first sight, the statement seems to epitomize the satirical personality of Winston Churchill and the expert way he could master any political debates both within and outside the governmental apparatus; that the phrase was coined ironically with little significance and nevertheless was accepted as a part of mankind’s legacy. But, if looked at carefully, it provokes a variety of questions. What was democracy for Churchill? Which other types of government did he talk about? Finally, how supportive was that Churchill’s quote of democracy in general? As a matter of fact, the answers could not be provided by the character himself, and therefore the realm of speculation had to be entered by many political scientists to interpret Churchill as thoroughly as possible.
One of the fundamental parts of academic discourse which many those scholars had to resolve in this particular case was the definition of democracy. Literally, it is translated from the Greek as “the rule of the people”. However, it raises even more questions: who constitute the people and how do they exercise their rule? Besides, there are different dimensions of democracy that create several types of it such as minimal, procedural and substantive , as well (Dahl). It can also be differentiated based on the electoral system - single-member district plurality or proportional - and whether it is parliamentary or presidential. If that path was followed, it would require a lot of assumptions and their justification which would take too much time and would not approach the understanding of the Churchill’s statement any closer. Therefore, due to the limitations of the paper, the thinking process behind the concept itself will not be covered; instead, an established definition will be taken as the point of departure. A procedural democracy is the political regime which in its process makes room for the fair and contested elections, full suffrage, the guarantee of civil liberties such as freedom of speech and expression and has a strong civil society and interest groups. The examples include contemporary United States, Great Britain, Canada and many other states. Such type of democracy was labeled by Robert Dahl as polyarchy, comprising three competitive branches: legislative, executive and judicial components.
What Churchill might have meant by other distinct types of government was probably autocracy which consists of four types: absolute monarchies, one-party systems, theocracies and military states. These all differ from democracy because their legitimacy comes not from the consent of the people through elections but from religious and historical background. They tend to cling to power for a long time; as a result, the full participation of people in decision-making is lacking or virtually non-existent, the civil rights...

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