INTRODUCING DEMOCRACY - What is Democracy? | İlim ve Medeniyet

In this work, we will paraphrase the book  “Introducing Democracy: 80 Questions and Answers” which written by David Beetham and Kevin Boyle. This book has assessed the basic problems of democracy with considering easy understanding. In this work, we review the book with its some topics. We widen the scope of these titles with our interpretation. Methodologically, we divided the book as under the six main titles and within these titles, we scrutinize the sub-topics which we selected with their main issues.

Mentioned six main titles are:

– basic concepts and principles,

– free and fair elections,

– open and accountable government,

– individual rights and their defence,

– democratic or civil society,

– the future of democracy.

This book, seems like as have an aim for the explaining of basic problems, questions of the democracy and democratization. We will assess the some parts of the book which we selected, with the lightening of the “Democracy Theory and Democratization” lecture.

Basic Concepts and Principles

  • Why are the media important to democracy?

Why are the media important for the democracy? Media have an important role for government on the creating of propaganda of government program with the creating of the popular support governments provide a power for the legitimacy. Especially in the free elections, parties use their propaganda with the help of the media organs.

Media interactions provide delivering of their commitments to all voters. With this way, before elections, voters can aware of the options, supplies of the political parties, and then they can easily choose and deliver their wheels on the particle time. Therefore met your service to the creating and providing of the democratic order. This collectivity among voters and party leaders, develop the culture of collaboration on the way of the democracy.

  • Journalist as watchdog

Journalist as a part of the media have a role as public watchdog. Journalist have mediatory function between ruling class activities and citizens. They had tests the activities of the government, and its activities and then they reflect the informations towards to citizens independently. But they must consider to be impartial decide is the responsibility journalist should serve for public interest. Tidious workers in media, whoever you from the interest groups. But in liberal market of media and information interests maximization can danger to the truth media understanding. Commercial treaties negotiations on the bed behaviors can harm to impartial and true information delivering.

Independence, professionalism, merit, no reflection of subjective interpretation while delivering the news are must be considered by the journalists and other members of media.

According to this book, necessities of the real democracy are liberal constitutionalism and rule of law. Also exist of written constitution is important liberal constitutionalism includes separation of powers between legislation executive and judicial for providing guarantee of individuals rights and freedoms. Expression of the rights and duties of the citizens different organs of the state which publicly known. For acceptance of the citizens widely, articles of the Constitution must be clear and they should not give a place for ambiguity. Democracy is one secures the conditions for the year influence and control over governments on and on going basis.

According to book liberal democracy is not the only possible form of democracy. But it is better than the others.

Across the liberal and democratic political order, single party regimes are repressive. We can see the restrictions off the wheel off citizens rulers stripe for prevention of the diviners of this society also they restrict any different we were on culturally, politically, and socially. They give a chance the citizens with the elections which are symbolic. Citizens cannot reflect their ideas through the political activity and order. This symbol the competition don’t give my permission to demand for changing in part to program and their ideology. The main features of the leaders are following in anauthoritarian unresponsive not cause during separation of powers,  no rule of law, infringement of the rights and freedoms of the citizens, suppression on the free declaration.

When we focus on the relation of liberalism and democracy, we can see the several main factors open an actual competition, rule of law, separation of powers are there important ones.

Democracy is a universal value, but there is no single model on democracy according to United Nations World Summit, democracy has variations for the application of the different countries’ cultures, traditions, historical background of the countries are various.

Additionally, beside the interaction of the countries on democratic culture, they creates ends up lies they are spectacular democratic order. If one type of democracy is applied in all countries, existence of the conflicts will inevitable.

A socialist alternative as an alternative different from the democratic and the liberal policies and regimes. Socialism foresee the appropriation of the centralism and repression, equality in all conditions.

This approach absorbs the will of citizens. And citizens become ineffective. Increased effect of the capitalism and liberalism, nearly abolishment of the effects of the socialism in the world. And also with the collapse of the Soviet Union, socialist cultures abolished to the shelf.

Human rights and fundamental freedoms are protected by the international laws. Recognition and protection of the human rights and freedoms provide this by the consequences of all countries mutually. International organizations, civil societies, summits which deal with the protection of the human rights, discuss the problems and make an amends the laws, assess the complaints. The main source of human rights in the modern world is accepted as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • Protection of the rights and fundamental freedoms

As a support local and regional conventions are important for the protection of the rights and fundamental freedoms. Page 42 Ron’s can be classified into three: civil, political, social economic and cultural rights discuss vacation out of it in the International Bill of Human Rights.

State must ensure that writes off they are scissors rights should be implemented without delay for not donating to the rights and freedoms of the individuals. In 2005 world song that they play at the relation between women’s rights as being interdependent and mutually reinforcing.

International standards, permanent restriction of the exercise of certain rights on specific grounds such as public order, public morals, national security and the rights of others.

  • Can human rights be suspended in an emergency?

A question can be suspended in emergency instead of emergency station of the threat is the life of the nation human rights can be restricted in this gap, police forces have additional power of arrest, consolidating of security, detention without trial.

  • Can democracy legitimately exclude anyone from citizenship?

Before these question we can’t say no state must not behave in an arbitrary way, for example policy of the United States on that in American immigrants faced to rationally discriminatory immigration policy.

  • Minorities&Democracy

Rights of minorities must consider from the politicians and individuals minorities have religious, cultural, national and linguistic rights in the society.

When we assess their human rights and fundamental freedoms after individuals in global perspective all United Nations member states have responsibility to protect civilians against genocide encroachment on human rights etc. with the collective action on supervision of today any crimes against humanity. this mechanism helps the controlling of the balance, prevention of the belligerency. International organizations criminal courts mandate to prosecute individuals.

  • Free and fair elections

Why are the elections important elections are the essence of the democracy for the delivering general will of the citizens?

With elections citizens choose candidates which are appropriate the wheel off in the interests of the citizens and waters aims to affect the government affairs with their votes. The head of the government, members of the Parliament, and also rulers in local governments are chosen by the elections from the citizens votes.

  • Different Political Systems: Presidential and Parliamentary Systems

In a presidential system, where the president is the head of government, these two purposesare clearly distinguished by having separate elections for presidentand members of the legislature, respectively; such elections may or may not take place at the same time. In a prime-ministerial or parliamentary system, one set of elections will fulfil both purposes, since it is the elected members of parliament who will determinethe head of government on the basis of which party leader can win majority support in parliament.

The regular elections are the way of the popular control in a represantative democracy.

Elections are the good path for the way of political power. We can understand the direction of political\social tendency of the citizens. And elections held responsible to the rulers before their citizens. Power elites strive for becoming power or protecting of their status in the government. And, shae their policies with the reflection of the final result of the elections.

  • Electoral systems

About electoral systems, we cannot define them as whist is the best? These types of governmental systems varies among the countries and depends on their history, political structure, social organizations, values, spreaded ideology etc.

Chief executive is responsible to their public and parliament for their actions. In this situation, efficiency of ruling class of the head of the state is important. In this point, recruiting or appointment of the members of the parliament is contraversial.

  • How frequently should elections take place?

For awaring of the political performance of the government, there is need fort he waiting and seeing. Governments need for continuity fort he applying their political programmes. A four year cycle is usually accepted among the countries. This period is plausible.

  • Why equality of men&women matters?

Existence of the women in the politics have some positive meaning. Especially in sensitive issues, ideas and particpation of women is important for decision making processi true delivering of the women sided will through to political activity.

Overcoming political inequality requires relevant actions: public education, improving childcare facilities, give premise to women candidates in the elections etc.

The books includes 5 types of the electoral systems. These are the plurality system, (applied in US, Latin America countries, UK and many of its former colonies etc.), The alternative vote, the single transferable vote, the party list, the mixed member system.

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of these systems?

All electoral systems have several advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, all have different main features. Simplicity, majority support, voterchoice, proportionality, differantial representation are the factors of the different electoral systems.

Different electoral systems have different tendencies country’s population, political structures, its regional governmental types etc. Even these systems compatible to the defined countries, countries change their electoral systems with the change of the government system.

  •  How can the fairness of the election process be guaranteed?

There are three main sources for threats to the fairness of the election process. The first comes from the advantage that being in government gives to the ruling party or parties. With the requires of the legality, parties should be seperated from the governmental organizations.

Second threat is to the fairness of the election process, all kinds of malpractice by candidates, party members and their supporters. These are can given as an example to malpractice: bribing electors, preventing them from registering to vote, threatening them, impersonating voters, disrupting meetings of opposing candidates, seizing ballot boxes, stuffing them with your own votes, rigging the count etc.

For securing the elections, adequate personnel, security units for conducting electoral process in a secure, supervision of electoral commision. For realizing of free and fair elections, these are compulsory.

Third threat is to the fairness of the election process arises from the advantage that the possession of personal wealth or access to wealthy backers can give to individual candidates or parties.

  • Should political parties be publicly funded?

Two damaging consequences exist in this issue. The first, wealthy individual and corporate sponsors of party campaigns come to exercise more influence over the policy and legislative process than the voters do. The second  is that only the personally wealthy can afford the costs involved in standing for public office.

Against the public funding is explained with some basic explanations. With the getting public funding from the public, leads to lack of autonomy for the parties. With this way, ignoring the getting funding from the state, provides an autonomy to the political parties and its members. They offer a solution as “voluntary funding”. According to this understanding, parties are subsidized from the voluntary organizations, bodies etc. But, for providing transparency and gaining trus of the citizens, this donations. Its amounts must be declared to the public for preventing any suspicions.

  • Do voters have any power between elections?

Voters have supervisory effect\power between elections. Candidates must consider their opinions demands for expected governing of the citizens. Candidates know this realm and with pre-legislative consultations, they get informaition about their expectiencies. Civil society organizations, pressure groups, voluntary organizations participate the political process and audits the affairs of rulers with the effect of movements, public campaigns, demonstrations, mutual agreements etc.

  • What is electronic democracy?

Electronic democracy (e-democracy) is based on a market–driven technology. It helps to get an information about government easily. With these renew usages, individuals reach the public service in a short time. It increases the speed of communication, accessibility. And it decreases the cost the expenditures, facilitates the new forms of debates. Spatial limitations get decreased with the facilitator means. Therefore government serves to the citizens, practically. And citizens get service easily.

  • What’s meant by accountable government?

Accountable government mainly deal with three dimension: Legal accountability, political accountability and financial accountability.

Firstly, legal accountability means all public officials are responsible for their actions before the laws. All acts of the public officials, who elected or non-elected, defined and circumscribed within the law and the constitution.

Political accounbtability is mean that accountability of government to parliament and public for the justiability of its policies, their prioritization and their manner of execution.

Financial accountability is the accountability of government for spending the proceeds of taxation only on those purposes approved by the legislature, and in the most cost-effective manner. For prevent any misuse of sources of government, accountability on financial issues are important. With the financial accountability, government expenditures are controlled by the independent, Professional institutions.

With the increased level of democracy, accountability occurs with the auditory mechanisms of the citizens naturally. Elections, media, social movements, activities of organizations on human rights helps the accountability of government.

  • What contribution can individual citizens make to accountable government?

In a democratic system, individual citizens have an an important role on the auditing of the government. Citizens can aware of the situations which against the any unlawful decisions or maladministration of the government such as delay, neglect, arbitrariness, encroachment etc.  In cases of maladministration the request for checking of the unwell situation to government from the citizens. Citizens use the judicial mechanism, or appoint to the ombudsman who public advocate is an official who is charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating the acts and functions of the government. Also individual citizens serve as an important reminder that the primary customer for the government services.

  • On federalism, reasons with regards to regional differences

Federalism is usually applicable in large territorial states, which contain wide variations in geography and culture among their constituent regions. In large territorial states, all of contained countries or regions can demand for their autonomy. It sourced from the will of power, cultural and ethnical changes.

  • Democratic and Civil Society

In twentieth century, after the experience of fascist and communist dictatorship, state’s supervisions on the all social institutions became important. With consolidating role of the organizations, these institutions shape the democracy. And also, civil society with its entities, control over the activites of the government. This automatic supervision provide well condition on the democracy. Beside these organizations have an importance on the creating collectivity, general will and participation the state affairs indirectly.

  • Elements of civil society

Boarders of the civil society are so wide. Key elements of civil society are market economy, independent media of communication, flourishing network of voluntary associations in all areas of social life, defence and  promotion  of democracy, women’s groups, human rights organizations, self-help groups, religious bodies etc.

And also civil society with its elements,  provides freedom of expression, collective action, defend\advance rights of social groups. Additionally, it have consuştative role on the relevant areas of the government policy.

  • Does democracy require private property?

As a political\economic arguement, the idea of private property is important for political liberty. It protects the liberties on political issues and provide sustainability of democrratic order. This idea is contrary to restriction of the state on the economic activities of individuals.

  • What is the relation between democracy and multiculturalism?

Firstly, multiculturalism, the view that cultures, races, and ethnicities, particularly those of minority groups, deserve special acknowledgement of their differences within a dominant political culture.[1]

Democratic society consider the ideas&preferences of  the majority primarily. In this situation, majoritarian system suppress the interests, will of the minorities. We called as tyranny of majority. Living in coherent of different of different groups requires protecition and recognition of the distinctive identities. Governments must prevent the infringement of the minority’s rights. Common citizenship and considering the equality among groups have vital importance for realising of multicultural and democratic order.


  • What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

This unit give a place for new struggles\problematics of democracy. The countries are have more intermingled relation with the other countries. Dependency level of the countries, and also problems are become more complex. For creating and protecting democratic sphere, considering participation to governing in both internal and external areas.

Globalization, international forces, universal organizations, new understanding on human security, protecting human rights and freedom in a worldwide are more important. Beside, requiring of supervision of international organizations, relations among countries on military, social, political, cultural superiority are vitally important.

  • Cosmopolitan democracy

Cosmopolitan democracy as a radical approach sees the source of problem to state-centered institutions. This approach focuses on the world’s citizens, global governance, global civil society and international organizations.

 They see the best alternative of the governance of the all, with the United Nations liked organizations.

  • How can democratic apathy be addressed?

Citizens think as pragmatic. They take care of their interest, if things are not usable for their profit, they do not care to this. Political apathy can given as an example fort his situation.

 If citizens see the improvements on the democracy or government, they wil have not relevance. Because people have tendency to use or applying the power with their will.

Also they do not need to affect and participate the democratic political movement. In this situation, rulers should strive fort he including the citizens to democracy. For this, they should provide a chance to equal political participatinf, reflecting the will of citizens and existence of effective institutions. When people see their will on the conducting of political practice, they accept the taking an active role in the democratic sphere.



Avatar photo


PhD Student & Research Assistant in Political Science furkanemirrr[at]


Mail adresiniz gizli kalacaktır.

Biz Kimiz?

Gayemiz, asırlardır mirasçısı olduğumuz medeniyetin gelişimine katkı sağlamak adına kurduğumuz ilim halkasındaki ilmî faaliyetleri geniş kitlelere ulaştırmaktır.

Cemiyetimizde, genç ve hareketli yazar kadromuz ile Siyaset, Hukuk, Ekonomi, Sosyoloji, Edebiyat ve Tarih gibi ilmî alanlarda gerek akademik gerekse de gündeme ilişkin yazılar kaleme alınmaktadır.


Küçük Çamlıca Mahallesi, Filiz Sokak, No:3