Analysis of Democracy

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What exactly is meant by the term “democracy”? According to the rich and long history of democracy itself, it is doubtful that there is an appropriate and comprehensive definition of democracy exists. However, by studying the formation of democracy, there is a common agreement that the term “democracy” consists of the following characteristics: “regular free and fair elections, universal suffrage, and accountability of the state's administrative organs to the elected representatives, and effective guarantees for freedom of expression and association as well as protection against arbitrary state actions.” (Holden) Then, one could see the key term of democracy is the representation of the political system. In order to examine and question the “level of democracy” in the contemporary Northern states, it is necessary to analyze the representation of democracy, in particular, the implementation of new policies and remaining difficulty of democracy of Great Britain and France. The different forms of democratic systems are formed upon different histories. “Great Britain with an early industrial revolution and stable government developed a strong parliament that gradually became more democratic; on the other hand, France had a late industrial revolution, unstable governments, and a rapid change towards a strong stable democratic executive branch.” (Soe) Both these countries have recently instituted similar programs in order to improve the “level of democracy” such as representation and civil rights. There were both major political reforms of Great Britain and France in the history. In Great Britain, the appointed mayor is replaced by directed elected one. And in France, “there were sweeping reforms in 1981where “supervision of local governments was reduced, regional governments were created, and localities were authorized to levy taxes and engage in a wide range of activities” (Kesselman). These reforms facilitate democracy to become more effective. Local citizens could not choose their own representative because the local officials were appointed, but not elected through a fair electoral system. The direct effect of the change is that people can directly choose their own official who represents their real interest. And, “the representatives are now directly accountable to the electorate for their actions, and this adds to their legitimacy.” (Schumpeter) Therefore, the political reforms have improved representation and accountability of administrative systems. Furthermore, the implementation of the new policies in recent years, has also improved the democratic principle of representation. “Law was passed last year in France that appears to go further than any other in the world in attempting to share representation more evenly between men and women…[It] obliges all political parties to field and equal number of male and female candidates…” (Soe). At the first glance, it seems undemocratic since the mandatory binding condition attached to a political entity is not a fair game. On the other hand, the positive effect is that the participation of women at the administrative level improves the representation of women’s interest. In 1999, “a combination of single member district and party list proportional [to determine who wins]” (Soe) policy is released in London, Scotland and Wales. Similar positive effect as France, the voice from smaller parties can be brought up is also an indicator of improvement of representation, since the old single member election cannot represent smaller parties’ interests efficiently. “Both Great Britain and France have been weakening the most powerful player in their respective governments with the hopes of increasing the checks and balances in the government.” (Hewlett) During 2000, a law was passed in France—all future presidential terms have reduced from 7 years to 5 years. The reduction of service term indicates the “weakening of head of state while increasing the position’s accountability”. (Samuel)...
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