August 20, 2016

Democracy, not majoritarianism

IF there is a word in politics that is familiar to most people but most misunderstood and misused in context, that word is none other than ‘democracy’. Dictionaries define democracy as a system of government in which all citizens of a country can vote to elect their representatives. Therefore, a democracy is a government by the people in which the power is vested in the people and exercised by elected representatives.
Judging from this, the people do not elect representatives to govern them and limit their individual rights to the freedoms of expression and religion.
The responsibility of representatives manifests itself in such a way that they are assigned to run the country and manage its resources for the welfare of the people from all social strata. Simply put, sovereignty resides with the people.
It is natural that in a democracy, decisions are made by majority rule. However, this does not necessarily mean that the majority enjoys the divine right to oppress the minority. The rule by the majority is not democratic at all. Nor should the protection of the rights of minorities be at the mercy of the majority, simply because democratic principles are intended to respect the rights of all citizens and prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, religion and gender.
All things considered, the establishment of a democratic society encompasses a wide range of procedures and practices based on the values of tolerance, compromise and equality to ensure fundamental human rights to all citizens. Researchers have argued that ‘democracy is more than a set of constitutional rules that determine how a government functions’. In a sense, the practice of democracy can be interpreted as the institutionalisation of the culture of accountability, responsibility and transparency in the decision-making process.


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