Democracy may be described as a form of government in which the general public can participate in its decision making process. However, democracy is often used as a term to identify any system that is not patently a dictatorship. Democracy may be addressed not only as a political, but also as a social system with implications in every day life.
It is a set of principles that protect human freedom. All democracies operate on the principle of majority rule, keeping in mind the interests of the minority groups as well as individuals. Democracies are diverse, reflecting each nation's unique political, social, and cultural life. Democracies rest upon fundamental principles, not uniform practices. Democracies guard against all-powerful central governments and decentralize government to regional and local levels, understanding that local government must be as accessible and responsive to the people as possible. Democratic societies are committed to the values of tolerance, cooperation, and compromise. Democracies recognize that reaching consensus requires compromise and that it may not always be attainable.
Democracy functions in the gamut of defined and undefined parameters. It also manifests itself in the form of certain parameters. A deeper understanding of these parameters would provide an insight into the functioning of a democracy. In fact from a macrocosmic perspective, democracy just cannot be restricted to the political ambit. It is a way of life and extends to one's personal as well as professional demeanor. However in order to understand its extension and application into these areas, it is mandatory to take a deeper look at what democracy entails and ensues. There are systems that serve as indicators of a democratic set up. These indicators not only shape the democratic operations but also sustain them.
Equality is an innate parameter plus an indicator of a democratic set up. Equality reflects a positive connotation. Equality in its prescriptive usage has a close connection with morality and justice. When we talk about democratic equality, a natural question arises: equality in what Democratic equality cannot mean equality in everything: there are many inequalities that democracy does not deal with. There are five criteria that mark a democratic process: voting equality, effective participation, enlightened understanding, control of the agenda, and inclusion of all adult members in collective decisions. These five criteria make the democratic process fully consistent with the logic of political equality. Violating any of the five criteria not only renders the process undemocratic, but also renders it incompatible with the logic of political equality. Professor Giovanni Sartori's two-volume book, The Theory of Democracy Revisited, contains an excellent treatment on various forms of equality and their roles in democratic thinking. Sartori thinks that "[i]nequality is 'nature'; equality is denaturalization. . . . Equality stands out, first and foremost, as a protest ideal, indeed, as the protest ideal par excellence" (Sartori, 1987, p. 337). In terms of their relationship with democracy, says Sartori, some equalities preceded democracy, while others are democratic claims. Pre-democratic equalities include equality before the law, equal and inalienable rights and equal freedom or moral equality. These equalities are more the products of Christianity, ethics, natural law and liberal ideals than of democracy. In contrast, three other equalities stand out as distinctively democratic demands. These are full political equality, social equality (as equal status and consideration regardless of class or wealth) and ...
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