A glimpse at the systems of governance among climes in the 21st century by a layman, no –even a lad, will result into inquisitions of which is best. Democracy, by modern-day political analysts, is described as a suitable antidote for the past troubles of nations by ‘ferocious’ rulers.
Reconsidering the etymology of democracy, it is the nexus of two Greek words; ‘Demos’ meaning people and ‘Kratia’ meaning power. The Webster New Encyclopaedic Dictionary (1995) defines democracy as a government in which supreme power is invested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through representation. Examples of countries practising democracy are Nigeria, Norway, Netherlands, inter alia.
A government of the people, by the people and for the people, as propounded by Abraham Lincoln, democracy seeks people to exercise authority of the government. The subject of discuss is whether democracy is the best system of government or not. My stance, which this essay tends to elucidate, is of the former.
First, the advent of democracy provides an opportunity for equal rights and equal votes. In the exercise of rights in a democratic state, everyone is accorded franchise, once he or she is eligible by age. This implies that there is no restriction by virtue of colour or gender. Latimer (2018) posits that democratic elections are characterized with equal votes and basic rights guaranteed. Also, winners are determined by the free choices of the citizens. There is equality of rights irrespective of economic status or ability/disability status. In fact, cognisance is taken of individuals with disabilities and priority accorded to them.
In addition, freedom of speech is guaranteed. Tharamel (2010) highlights that “a democratic society permits freedom of speech and expression”. Little wonder the theme for World Press Freedom Day in 2019 was “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation”. Unhindered is the status of freedom of speech and expression. Just few days ago, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State made an unreserved apology to two journalists who were earlier banned by him from entering the state house for life. This of course cannot be featured in a military regime or autocratic rule.
Further more, there is the feature of decentralization and checks and balances in a democratic society. As an established structure in government, the three arms – executive, legislature and judiciary, remains same. However, powers are shared amongst them which gives provision for checks and balances to play. By reason of legal barriers, no single person receives supreme power over legislative processes. The legislative arm freely enact laws with due process, the executive arm sees to the execution of laws while the judiciary interpret the laws and punish offenders. Oh, what a splendid structure!
Consecutively, democracy gives rise to stability and transition of power smoothly while establishing legitimacy. Gone are the days of power tussle by means of coups organised occasionally. There is stability of government of the people by virtue of periodic elections by the electorate. Such periods could be 4, 5 or 6 years and a re-election, if permitted by law. Also, transition of government is without chaos but of a smooth process. Thus, I affirm that democracy ensures transition on a platter of choice other than a platter of blood and pounds of flesh.
More so, democracy paves way for citizens to express patriotism and loyalty. No one is subject under a hard rule. Everyone is opportune to walk and work without fear or favour. The system of governance gives room for active participation which enables the people to be familiar with the community, carry out duties and perform their obligations.
Noteworthy too, is the robust and sizeable pro-growth effect of democracy. Studies reveal that democracy sees higher Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to greater civil liberties, economic reform, increased investment and government capacity, and reduced social conflict. There is a conducive atmosphere that allow economic policies thrive. Incentives are given to Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) at intervals. Taxes are paid regularly as the citizens earn.
Democracy is a system that creates a channel to reach the masses at the grassroot level. Through diverse intervention such as community development-based projects, provision of primary education and healthcare, etc, the government, at the local level, is able to reach the ‘unheard’ and ‘unrecognized’.
To this end, the words of Archibald MacLeish stands sure – “Democracy is never a thing done. Democracy is always something that a nation must be doing”. As such, democracy should not be passive but active in nature, thus ensuring that the above features that makes for it good are not ignored nor forsaken.
AKANLE SAMUEL AYOBAMI
Daron A., Suresh N., James R. “Democracy and Economic Growth: New Evidence” https://promarket.org/democracy-economic-growth-new-evidence/ (Accessed 3rd May, 2020)
Latimer, T. “Plural voting and political equality: A thought experiment in democratic theory”, European Journal of Political Theory; Vol. 17(1) 65–86 DOI: 10.1177/1474885115591344
Tharamel, P. (2010). Mass Media and Democracy: An Indian perspective. https://www.lawyersclubindia.com/articles/mass-media-and-democracy-an-indian-perspective-2896.asp (Accessed 3rd May, 2020)