Interesting Facts about Democracy

Democracy is the most popular form of government in the world today. People from all over the globe make use of its unique benefits and privileges. Of course, there’s more to democracy than just elections, ballots, voting, etc. Here are some interesting facts about Democracy:

1. The Word “Democracy” is a Greek word 

The origin of the word “democracy” is linked to two short Greek words, namely ‘demos’ and ‘kratos.’ Demos means people living in the said state or country, while Kratos means power. Hence, the literal meaning of democracy is the power of the people. [1]

2. The Youngest Democracy in the World is the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan 

Bhutan is a remote kingdom in the Himalayan region, the youngest democratic state globally. It decided to eliminate the old monarchical rule existing in the country for over a century and go for the first-ever multi-party elections in 2008. 

The change surfaced on March 24th when more than half (80%) of the eligible Bhutanese voters flooded the poll centers to cast their votes and elect democratic leaders. [2] 

3. The World’s Wealthiest Countries Are All Successful Democracies 

Democracy ensures the power of the people. If it runs smoothly and the citizens are happy and flourishing, there is no doubt that business opportunities are also booming in the said country. Democracy brings about continuous financial growth, influence in the common person’s voice, easy taxes, transparent cash flow, etc. 

These are all indicators of a nation or a financially stable and thriving country. It is why all the wealthiest countries worldwide are democratic nations. [3] 

4. India is the World’s Largest Democracy  

If democracy is assessed by numbers, India is one of the oldest and largest democracies globally after the US. It is a populous country, with over one-sixth of the world’s population residing there. A 2014 study estimates that out of approximately 1,267 million Indian population, 834 million are eligible voters – making India the largest democracy worldwide. It is also the largest democracy in terms of political maturation. [4]

5. Democracy is not always a Perfect Form of Government 

An ideal form of democracy is the best government for the people of any country, as it allows people to have the right to choose their own rightful leaders and vote the corrupt ones out. Democracy also brings about enhanced freedom of speech and fewer constrictions on the media. 

However, democracy is often flawed in various cases if the representation of people in the voting and other rights is not rightful. If the elections are biased and the people’s voice is not heard, then democracy is flawed and does not act as the best form of government for its people.  

6. Democracy Works In Unison with Education and Awareness 

For a thriving democracy, the people must be aware of their rights. However, often in the case of flawed democracies, the eligible voters are unaware of the people representing them. Thus, the elections are not fair as the voters have no idea who they are voting for. 

7. Corruption is Prevalent in Democracies 

Besides economic or financial corruption, political corruption makes democracies lose their natural essence and render them a useless form of governance. Political corruption in democracies allows politicians to rig elections and buy representatives for money. 

This flawed voting system fraught with political corruption, bribery, influence peddling, nepotism, extortion, and lobbying, results in an unjust election. 

8. Voting in a Democratic System Can Be Biased 

People can only vote for their suitable and rightful representation in the government when they are aware of all the candidates and their ideologies. However, one of the significant downfalls of democracy is the possibility that corrupt leaders keep the voters in the dark about their elected people. Thus, voters might be totally unaware and ignorant about the selections they have to make.

9. Formal Democracy Prevails in Most Countries of the World 

Most countries in the world are formal democracies – wherein people have direct representation in the government.

10. Other Most Prevalent Forms of Governance Include Autocratic or Dictatorial and Authoritarian

Besides the democratic nations in the world, other popular forms of governance include dictatorial. The dictatorial government has one supreme leader who runs the state and controls law and order. An autocratic form of governance is when the supreme power and decision-making capabilities are in the hands of the top influential groups of people who are not bound by any law or legal constraints. 

About one in every three people in this world lives under either of the two aforementioned forms of governance. China has the most number of people living in an autocratic government. [5]

11. Elections in Democracies Are Not Always Peaceful 

Democracy does not guarantee peace and fair elections if the system is ridden with corruption and other vices. Democratic elections often bring about protests, campaigns, and other mob misbehaviors that do not make democracy seem very peaceful. 

The tussle comprising voting for their suitable candidate and not letting the other take reign of representing the people leads to outrageous situations. As democracy does not limit the freedom of speech or media programs, the effects of adverse events during elections also often lead to riots. 

12. Government, Parliament, and Courts of Law Are Mutually Exclusive From Each Other 

One of the basic tenets of democracy is the mutually exclusive working of the three core institutions of a country. The government, parliament, and the courts of law, including the high court and Supreme Court, work independently for the betterment of the nation.

13. Representation of Women in the Parliament is Also Increasing 

Women MPs are increasingly getting opportunities to enter the parliament and get elected. Women representing women is the best thing that democracy has brought about. The number of elected women parliamentarians has been steadily rising since 1997.

14. There are Two Forms of Democracy

Democratic governance is mainly of two types – direct or representative. Direct democracy is when people vote on policies and other actions directly instead of a representative. The opposite is true for representative democracy. As the name suggests, representative democracy is when people elect their representatives, who then get to vote or enact various policies. [6]

15. Pure Democracy is Relatively Uncommon 

Democracy, on paper, is an ideal form of governance for the people of any country. However, it is a very complicated governance system to initiate and maintain. It is why the overall quality of democracy in the world is flawed. There are only 15% of the democracies in the world are true democracies in their natural sense. Most democracies are either hybrid or flawed. 

16. Democracy Ensures Freedom of Speech, Media, and Religion 

As democracy is the governance of people via representatives or direct voting, democracy must allow freedom of speech, media, and religion. The press is free in such a form of government, and the regulations regarding stating one’s opinions are not rigid. 

17. Age Eligibility for Voting is Different in Various Democracies 

In America, the age eligibility for voting is 18 years, while this rule varies in other democratic countries. The lowest minimum age for voting is 16 in various countries, including Switzerland, Scotland, Argentina, Brazil, Austria, Ecuador, Cuba, and Nicaragua. 

On the other hand, the highest minimum voting age criteria is 21 in Singapore, Kuwait, and Lebanon.

18. There are Certain Indexes by Which the Effectiveness of the Democracy Is Measured 

The effectiveness of democracy in any country is gauged against several indexes or indicators, such as Worldwide Press Freedom and Freedom in the World Index. The World Press Freedom Index is compiled by Reporters Without Borders based on a questionnaire filled out by journalists and media workers around the world. The survey covers five criteria across over 100 questions.

On the other hand, Freedom in the World index is an annual survey and report by the U.S.-based non-governmental organization Freedom House that rates nations according to their civil liberties and political rights.

19. The Oldest Democracy

Though the United States has the oldest continuously operational democracy in the world, it is actually not the oldest democracy. In fact, there have been many democracies over the course of history. The Athenians chose their leaders and passed laws by voting. Because they voted on so many things, Athenian democracy was often slow and inefficient. But it was also open to all citizens, which is why some people today still look to it as a model for government.

20. Norway has the Truest Democracy in the World 

According to the Democracy Index 2020, Norway is the most democratic country, with proper representation of the people and preservation of their rights. [7]

Conclusion

Democracy is one of the most important governing systems and has been an inspiration for many. It helps promote the culture and values of a country as it separates the powers between the center and state. The main objective of democracy is to promote justice, equality, freedom, peace, knowledge, and ethics. 

Democracy has emerged from many changes that happened through history and various global conflicts. We live in interesting times where we see drastic political changes happening around the world. This can be attributed to a lack of proper understanding, greed for power, or both.

References

  1. https://www.moadoph.gov.au/democracy/defining-democracy/# 
  2. https://www.theglobalist.com/bhutan-the-worlds-youngest-democracy/ 
  3. https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/ricardo-hausmann-on-the-market-like-mechanism-in-advanced-economies–political-systems 
  4. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/ATAG/2014/538956/EPRS_ATA(2014)538956_REV1_EN.pdf 
  5. http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/politics/difference-between-autocracy-and-dictatorship/ 
  6. https://academy4sc.org/video/representative-vs-direct-democracy-power-of-the-people/ 
  7. https://www.eiu.com/n/campaigns/democracy-index-2020/