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KEYPRINCIPLESOFDEMOCRACY

Theseprinciplesoftenbecomeapartoftheconstitutionorbillofrightsinademocraticsociety.Thoughno
twodemocraticcountriesareexactlyalike,peopleindemocraciessupportmanyofthesamebasicprinciples
anddesirethesamebenefitsfromtheirgovernment.

1. CitizenParticipation
Oneofthemostbasicsignpostsofademocracyiscitizenparticipationingovernment.Participationisthekey
roleofcitizensindemocracy.Itisnotonlytheirright,butitistheirduty.Citizenparticipationmaytakemany
formsincludingstandingforelection,votinginelections,becominginformed,debatingissues,attending
communityorcivicmeetings,beingmembersofprivatevoluntaryorganizations,payingtaxes,andeven
protesting.Participationbuildsabetterdemocracy.

2. Equality
Democraticsocietiesemphasizetheprinciplethatallpeopleareequal.Equalitymeansthatallindividualsare
valuedequally,haveequalopportunities,andmaynotbediscriminatedagainstbecauseoftheirrace,religion,
ethnicgroup,genderorsexualorientation.Inademocracy,individualsandgroupsstillmaintaintheirrightto
havedifferentcultures,personalities,languagesandbeliefs.

3. PoliticalTolerance
Democratic societies are politically tolerant. This means that while the majorityof the people rule ina
democracy,therightsoftheminoritymustbeprotected.Peoplewhoarenotinpowermustbeallowedto
organizeandspeakout.Minoritiesaresometimesreferredtoastheoppositionbecausetheymayhaveideas
whicharedifferentfromthemajority.Individualcitizensmustalsolearntobetolerantofeachother.A
democraticsocietyisoftencomposedofpeoplefromdifferentcultures,racial,religiousandethnicgroups
whohaveviewpointsdifferent from themajorityofthepopulation.Ademocraticsocietyisenriched by
diversity.Ifthemajoritydenyrightstoanddestroytheiropposition,thentheyalsodestroydemocracy.One
goalofdemocracyistomakethebestpossibledecisionforthesociety.Toachievethis,respectforallpeople
andtheirpointsofviewisneeded.Decisionsaremorelikelytobeaccepted,evenbythosewhoopposethem,
ifallcitizenshavebeenallowedtodiscuss,debateandquestionthem.

4. Accountability
Inademocracy,electedandappointedofficialshavetobeaccountabletothepeople.Theyareresponsiblefor
theiractions.Officialsmustmakedecisionsandperformtheirdutiesaccordingtothewillandwishesofthe
people,notforthemselves.

5. Transparency
Forgovernmenttobeaccountablethepeoplemustbeawareofwhatishappeninginthecountry.Thisis
referred to as transparency in government. A transparent government holds public meetings and allows
citizenstoattend.Inademocracy,thepressandthepeopleareabletogetinformationaboutwhatdecisions
arebeingmade,bywhomandwhy.

6. Regular,FreeandFairElections
Onewaycitizensofthecountryexpresstheirwillisbyelectingofficialstorepresentthemingovernment.
Democracyinsiststhattheseelectedofficialsarechosenandpeacefullyremovedfromofficeinafreeandfair
manner.Intimidation,corruptionandthreatstocitizensduringorbeforeanelectionareagainsttheprinciples
ofdemocracy.Inademocracy,electionsareheldregularlyeverysomanyyears.Participationinelections
shouldnotbebasedonacitizen'swealth.Forfreeandfairelectionstooccur,mostadultcitizensshouldhave
therighttostandforgovernmentoffice.Additionally,obstaclesshouldnotexistwhichmakeitdifficultfor
peopletovote.
7. EconomicFreedom
Peopleinademocracymusthavesomeformofeconomicfreedom.Thismeansthatthegovernmentallows
someprivateownershipofpropertyandbusinesses,andthatthepeopleareallowedtochoosetheirownwork
andlaborunions.Therolethegovernmentshouldplayintheeconomyisopentodebate,butitisgenerally
acceptedthatfreemarketsshouldexistinademocracyandthestateshouldnottotallycontroltheeconomy.
Somearguethatthestateshouldplayastrongerroleincountrieswheregreatinequalityofwealthexistsdue
topastdiscriminationorotherunfairpractices.

8. ControloftheAbuseofPower
Democraticsocietiestrytopreventanyelectedofficialorgroupofpeoplefrommisusingorabusingtheir
power.Oneofthemostcommonabusesofpoweriscorruption.Corruptionoccurswhengovernmentofficials
usepublicfundsfortheirownbenefitorexercisepowerinanillegalmanner.Variousmethodshavebeen
usedindifferentcountriestoprotectagainsttheseabuses.Frequentlythegovernmentisstructuredtolimitthe
powersofthebranchesofgovernment:tohaveindependentcourtsandagencieswithpowertoactagainstany
illegalactionbyanelectedofficialorbranchofgovernment;toallowforcitizenparticipationandelections;
andtocheckforpoliceabuseofpower.

9. BillofRights
Manydemocraticcountriesalsochoosetohaveabillofrightstoprotectpeopleagainstabuseofpower.Abill
ofrightsisalistofrightsandfreedomsguaranteedtoallpeopleinthecountry.Whenabillofrightsbecomes
partofacountry'sconstitution,thecourtshavethepowertoenforcetheserights.Abillofrightslimitsthe
powerofgovernmentandmayalsoimposedutiesonindividualsandorganizations.

10. AcceptingtheResultsofElections
Indemocraticelections,therearewinnersandlosers.Oftenthelosersinanelectionbelievesostronglythat
theirpartyorcandidateisthebestone,thattheyrefusetoaccepttheresultsoftheelection.Thisisagainst
democraticprinciples.Theconsequencesofnotacceptingtheresultofanelectionmaybeagovernmentthat
isineffectiveandcannotmakedecisions.Itmayevenresultinviolencewhichisalsoagainstdemocracy.

11. HumanRights
Alldemocraciesstrivetorespectandprotectthehumanrightsofcitizens.Humanrightsmeanthosevalues
thatreflect respect forhumanlifeandhumandignity.Democracyemphasizesthevalueofeveryhuman
being. Examples of human rights include freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of
assembly,therighttoequalityandtherighttoeducation.

12. MultiPartySystem
Inordertohaveamultipartysystem,morethanonepoliticalpartymustparticipateinelectionsandplaya
roleingovernment.Amultipartysystemallowsforoppositiontotheparty,whichwinstheelection.This
helpsprovidethegovernmentwithdifferentviewpointsonissues.Additionally,amultipartysystemprovides
voterswithachoiceofcandidates,partiesandpoliciestovotefor.Historically,whenacountryonlyhasone
party,theresulthasbeenadictatorship.

13. TheRuleofLaw
Inademocracynooneisabovethelaw,notevenakingoranelectedPresident.Thisiscalledtheruleoflaw.
Itmeansthateveryonemustobeythelawandbeheldaccountableiftheyviolateit.Democracyalsoinsists
thatthelawbeequally,fairlyandconsistentlyenforced.Thisissometimesreferredtoas"dueprocessof
law."