The concept known in Spanish as democracy has its roots in ancient Greek and is formed by combining the words demos (which translates as “people”) and kratós (which can be understood as “power” and “government”). The notion began to be used in the 5th century BC, in Athens.
Currently, it is understood that democracy is a system that allows organizing a group of individuals, in which power does not reside in a single person but is distributed among all citizens. Therefore, decisions are made based on the opinion of the majority.
Democracy is also understood as the set of rules that determine conduct for a politically and socially ordered coexistence. It could be said that it is a lifestyle whose bases are found in respect for human dignity, freedom and the rights of each and every one of the members.
In a democracy, the population can choose the rulers through the vote.
Democracy as a form of government
In practice, democracy is a form of government and organization of a State. Through mechanisms of direct or indirect participation, the people select their representatives. It is said that democracy constitutes an option of social scope where, according to the Law, all citizens enjoy freedom and have the same rights, and social relations are established according to contractual mechanisms.
The government classifications promoted by Plato and Aristotle still remain in their essence. While the monarchy is the government that is concentrated in a single person, democracy is the government “of the multitude” (Plato) or “of the majority” (Aristotle).
Classification according to type
There are several types of democracies. When decisions are made directly by the people, we speak of direct or pure democracy; an indirect or representative democracy refers to the system where decisions are made by those people whom the people recognize as their legitimate representatives, who are elected through a vote by all citizens; and we are facing a participatory democracy when the political model allows citizens to organize themselves to exert direct influence on public decisions.
The most common way in which democracy is exercised today is in representative systems, which can be: presidential (with an executive power with a well-defined head, as is the case of republics with the president, who ministers and secretaries help), parliamentarians (a group of people form the parliament around which government actions revolve. There is a president but he has restricted powers) and collegiate systems (a combination of parliamentary and presidential systems, where power The executive branch is made up of several people chosen by parliament, who take turns as presidents).
Democracy allows freedom of expression.
Some important concepts when talking about democracy are the referendum (right of the people to reject or approve legislative provisions), plebiscite (voting in which the people respond to a proposal made by the government on state issues of fundamental interest: change politically, international issues such as border problems, etc.), popular initiative (the people submit to the government a proposal on bills or issues of political or citizen concern), recall or revocation (the people can annul government decisions through of the popular vote and has the right to remove certain officials if they do not perform their duties well), and jurors(The people integrate the so-called popular juries to collaborate with the judiciary).
Is it possible to build a real democracy?
For a real democracy to exist, of any of the types mentioned above, it is necessary that certain laws be fulfilled: popular sovereignty, freedom and equality. The three words that define this lifestyle represented by a government chosen by the citizens.
Popular sovereignty ensures that all citizens, as intelligent and free human beings, have rights and can obediently respond to the bodies established in common agreement with the rest of the citizens. It should be noted that the word sovereign derives from the Latin term meaning the one that stands above all others.
Freedom in a democratic state is legal and individual. The first refers to the right of the human being to act for himself with the full right to decide over his actions, as long as his desire does not go against the laws (which have been unanimously accepted by the people). For its part, individual freedom refers to the essence of intelligent and free beings that every citizen possesses from the precise moment of their birth.
The equality proposed by democracy ensures that all citizens must have the same opportunities and the same duties before the law (legal equality).
Antonym of aristocracy
To close this definition, it should be noted that democracy is not the antonym of a tyrannical regime (dictatorship), as is commonly believed, but of aristocracy. The aristocracy is a political and social structure of a vertical type, where each citizen receives a number of rights and obligations depending on their social status. A democracy has a horizontal structure because the people have power, even though at first glance they are governed by a political person.
Unfortunately, democracy continues to be a precious commodity that is elusive. It is difficult to find a democracy that really works, mainly due to the lack of information and disinterest of the people, who conform to the laws and end up ceding their rights to the political group in power, which in its ambition for power and money, leaves aside words like plebiscite or recall and makes decisions as if he were directing a monarchy or an aristocratic government. Democracy may not be the ideal form of government, if it conforms to a liberal economic system like the one that governs us, but it could possibly be much more recommendable if it really existed .and not simply as a theory that never seems to be put into practice.