Classic and Contemporary Understandings of Democracy Cover Image

Klasična i savremena shvatanja demokratije
Classic and Contemporary Understandings of Democracy

Author(s): Slaviša Orlović
Subject(s): Politics / Political Sciences
Published by: Fakultet političkih nauka Univerziteta u Beogradu
Keywords: democracy; elections; representation; human rights; rule of law

Summary/Abstract: This article considers classic and contemporary understandings of democracy, place and role of democracy in relation between man and power, but also a comparison of democracies with non-democratic alternatives, giving the reasons for its advantage over them. Democracy defines how to elect authori­ ties, how to organize and perform governance and how to control and replace authorities by the citizens (people) for the citizens (people). Democracy is a form of governance elected representatives rule therein. That is not the rule of all and per everybody’s wish, but the rule of the minority elected by the major­ ity to govern and act in interest of all citizens, or at least majority of them. Democracy tends toward equal participation of all citizens following the “one person-one vote” principle. Democracy needs active citizens and their largest possible inclusion in political (and public) life of the society, but voluntarily, not by force. Basic human rights from John Locke onwards are important for de­ mocracy: right to life, body, liberty and property, through freedoms of speech and expression and freedom of press, religious freedoms, freedom of assembly and association, right to equality before the law, right to fair investigation and trial. Democratic theory encompasses the question of what democracy is and what it should be, but it is also important to learn about practical experiences of how to elect and organize authorities and govern in diverse states and societies. Debates on democracy include both, having in mind social context and institutional framework. Democracy is one of the most optimal and most thorough forms of organizing political community at least for now and by now. In comparison with relatively homogenous population of citizens in poleis, city-states, united by common affection for their city, language, myths, gods - the structure of modern societies is more diverse: from local and regional loyalties, through ethnical and racial identities, religious, ideological and other differences, social statuses to system of values and lifestyles. With introduction of the political representation principle, neither the size of a country not the number of its inhabitants were obstacles anymore. Thus democracy became possible also for large states with large territory. Today’s democracy is the national state democracy. Establishment of principles of political representa-tion is most directly linked to the institution of parliament, i. e. elected peoples’ representatives, as well as political parties that prepare and conduct that selection. The essence of democracy lays in participation and competition dur-ing election of political representatives, but also in their accountability before voters who elected them. Having in mind these notes, the issue of democracy in this context will be dealt with in correlation of competition, conflict and consensus. The advantages offered by the democracy make it more desir-able than its alternatives.

  • Issue Year: 2008
  • Issue No: 02
  • Page Range: 47-71
  • Page Count: 25
  • Language: Serbian