Democracy ( ancient Greek δημοκρατία dēmokratía "rule of the state people", from δῆμος dḗmos " state people " and κράτος krátos "violence, power, rule") today denotes forms of rule , political orders or political systems in which power and government emanate from the people ( popular rule ).
This participates either directly ( direct democracy ) or through the selection of decision-making representatives ( representative democracy ) in all decisions that are binding on the general public. In democratic states and political systems, the government emerges from the people through political elections . Since power is exercised by the general public, freedom of opinion and freedom of the press are essential for political decision-making. Other important features of a modern democracy are free and equal elections , the majority or consensus principle , protection of minorities , acceptance of a political opposition , separation of powers , constitutionality , and protection of fundamental , civil and human rights . This liberal set of values , which as such cannot be touched by majority decisions, also distinguishes it essentially from an ochlocracy , people 's republic or tyranny of the majority .
Many of the existing democracies generally refer to themselves as republics , whereby republics do not have to be democracies, but merely define themselves as turning away from the monarchy . But modern monarchies have also become compatible with the concept of democracy in many respects - mixed forms of government such as the parliamentary monarchy have emerged, which unite the decisive elements of a democracy.
There are different forms of measuring democracy . According to the democracy index of 2019, around 5.7% of the world population live in “complete democracies”, the rest in “incomplete democracies”, partially democratic (partly authoritarian ) systems or autocracies .
The word “democracy” is derived from ancient Greek δημοκρατία “rule of the state people”, a compound from δῆμος dēmos “ state people ” and κρατός kratós “ rule ”. It originated in ancient Greece and meant direct popular rule there. The term “people” was used very narrowly at that time, as it gave political participation rights to only an extremely limited group of citizens . In a Greek polis, for example, only free men could take part in popular assemblies . The turning away from the basic idea of democracy was called ochlocracy ("rule of the mob ").
The purpose and functioning of democracy are discussed in various democracy theories. Normative democracy theories contain a certain idea of democracy and each advocate different forms of democracy such as direct democracy , representative democracy , participatory democracy , demarchy , radical democracy or grassroots democracy .
Legitimation through democracy
An important legitimation theory of democracy is based on the ideal of “people's rule”, which should be based on the consent and participation of all citizens. Theoretically one can look for a reason for this in the following consideration: The order of the political community should be based on justice . The ultimate basis to which all efforts to gain insight into justice can advance is what the individual conscience, according to the best possible use of reason, finds to be good and just. Therefore, each is regarded as a moral authority to be respected equally to the other, as Kant stated. This leads "in the area of the state and the law to the democratic claim that everyone should have a say in matters of law and justice in a free competition of convictions".
Following these ideas, democracy in the Western understanding is today the only possible legitimation of the social order (see also democracy ). Democracy is often equated with the rule of law without further ado , although it is not necessarily (and often actually not) associated with it in terms of state theory . The assessment of democracy as the “(only) correct form of government” has led to the so-called democratization process. A distinction is made between democratization from “above” and from “below”; that is, democracy is either introduced from within through a revolution of the people, or the country is "democratized" from outside by a foreign power. The latter can take place in a weakened form, for example through the promotion of democracy , or through the violent “liberation” of a country (as was the case, for example, with denazification or in Afghanistan and Iraq ). More recent research, on the other hand, indicates that democracy was promoted essentially from above, even in revolutionary countries like France or the USA, and that most democracies arose without revolutions anyway.
From the point of view of the political science theory of sovereignty , democracy is a political system in which the people are the sovereign bearers of state power. A distinction is made between immediate and representative democracies depending on whether the binding popular will is formed directly by the citizens or by elected representatives. Parliamentary democracies that have a hereditary head of state with essentially representative functions (such as Great Britain or Belgium) while maintaining popular sovereignty (such as Great Britain or Belgium) are considered to be democracies, true in terms of state theory, but they are also referred to using the term monarchy, which has now changed , as parliamentary monarchies .
According to Critical Rationalism, theories of legitimation also need to be critically examined, in particular for errors that make them susceptible to totalitarian tendencies. These errors resembled the erroneous epistemological assumption of authoritative sources of knowledge and their justification. Ultimately, they were based on an uncritical answer to the question "Who should rule?" The usual theories of democracy presuppose this question as a basic political position and claim to be able to give the answer: "The people should rule" or "The majority should rule". According to Karl Popper , the founder of Critical Rationalism, this question is wrongly asked and the answer is also wrong, because neither the people nor the majority, but the government, actually rule in a democracy or can rule at all. This question must be replaced by the better question of how tyranny can be avoided and how the state can be designed and powers divided and controlled in such a way that rulers cannot cause too much damage and be bloodlessly deposed. According to this theory, actions by governments are not fundamentally legitimized and cannot place themselves above morality. Neither the people nor the government are or should therefore be sovereign; the government must also protect minorities against the will of majorities, and the people must hold the government accountable against their will in elections. According to this view, the democratic election is not a sovereign selection and legitimation of a new government that is best able to enforce the will of the people or the majority, but it is a people's court over the existing government, in which citizens decide whether they are efficient is enough and whether their actions are morally acceptable. The theory of majority rule must be replaced by the theory of the majority's power to dismiss. Popper also draws practical consequences from this, e.g. B. he asserts the moral superiority of majority suffrage and two-party democracy over proportional representation and multi-party democracy, while the theories of sovereignty and legitimation usually tend to the opposite view.
The need for cultivation of democratic decisions
Democracy needs multiple structuring in order to function effectively and adaptably as a free and citizen-oriented political system, if only so that one part of the community is not oppressed by another through majority absolutism. Considerations of this kind already played a role in the preliminary considerations for the US constitution. Later, Alexis de Tocqeville and John Stuart Mill deepened these considerations.
The guarantee of freedom is based on the rule of law binding on state power, in particular fundamental rights and the rule of law structuring of the decision-making process through the allocation of roles , constitutional procedural principles and controls .
The decentralization of decision-making powers in connection with the subsidiarity principle also serves to cultivate political action : The basis is the federal division of a state into federal states and the division of the federal states into self-governing bodies up to the municipalities. In this structured community, according to the traditional principle of subsidiarity, the subordinate political units should do everything they can do better or just as well as the higher-ranking ones. This is intended to give the smaller communities and their members a maximum of self-determination and responsibility for their own area of life; overall, this should ensure proximity to the citizens. The democratic decentralization of the political community serves in particular to humanize them; but it also finds certain limits in the “all too human”.
The implementation of the principle of subsidiarity as far as possible is therefore a basic requirement of a democracy. According to the historian Peter Jósika, any democratic self-determination and statehood should always start from the community as the smallest political unit that is closest to the citizen. Accordingly, municipalities should be able to decide for themselves at any time whether they belong to a larger political community (e.g. a state, a region, a province, a canton or a federal state). In this regard, Jósika refers in particular to the political model of Switzerland , where municipalities traditionally function as the starting point for the democratic state, have extensive autonomy and can therefore change their cantonal affiliation at any time. In this context, he criticizes the majority of today's nation states as centralistic and therefore remote from the citizens and undemocratic.
In a territorial structure there is also a federal (“vertical”) separation of powers . At the same time, there is a demand for a control of power through a “horizontal”, organizational division of regulatory competencies, but also (for example with Aristotle) for a balancing of social “assets” and powers. Such demands go back to antiquity and were partly represented by Aristotle and partly by Polybius. The principle of the horizontal separation of powers found its best-known, modern expression by John Locke and Montesquieu .
A representative will formation should not only serve the functionality, but also the rationality of democratic action. Jean Louis de Lolme in particular pointed out that democracy should be cultivated through a representative constitution : if the people participate in political decisions through representatives appointed by him, they cannot be given holy chickens, as was the case with the ancient Roman people's assembly chatter something. Rather, the decisions would then be in the hands of a manageable number of politically informed and committed personalities. Their negotiations took place in an orderly manner. In this way (one can add) the division of the people’s representation into the ruling party and the opposition ensures that the will-formation of the representatives is structured, at least in terms of external form, as an exchange of arguments and not as solidarity-based consent. In addition, de Lolme relied on control by an informed public opinion.
Essential characteristics of democracy
A state is considered democratic when the following criteria are met:
- There is a demos (the people ) who make political decisions in collective procedures ( elections or votes).
- The people are the sovereign bearers of state power ( popular sovereignty ) . It gives itself (mostly through a constitution ) a political system ( constitutional power ) .
- There is a territory in which the decisions are applied domestically and in which the demos are located: the national territory . Because this usually corresponds to the home of the demos, the demos and the scope of the democratic process match. Colonies of democracies are not considered democratic themselves if they are ruled by the democratic motherland. (Demos and territory do not match.).
- Conversely, however, the following applies: If the population is (also significantly) larger than the demos and thus the territory and the population also diverge, it is generally still referred to as a democracy ( foreigners problems in elections).
- There is a decision-making procedure for political norms that works either directly (as a referendum ) or indirectly (via the election of a representative parliament ). This procedure is already considered legitimate by the demos that its result is "accepted". In a representative democracy, the political legitimacy of the representatives is derived from the willingness of the population to accept or accept the decisions of the state (including those of the government and the courts ) against individual preferences and interests. This is important because democratic elections always have winners and losers. At least the procedure must be capable of bringing about a change of government, provided that there is sufficient support for it. Sham elections, which can only confirm an existing regime, are not democratic.
- In the case of nation states, they must be sovereign : Democratic elections are useless if an outside authority can overrule the outcome. There may be exceptions in the case of suzerainty (example Iceland ).
- Finally, an indispensable feature of a democracy is that through recurring, binding procedures, the government can change without revolution . In predominantly direct democratic systems, for example, the people make their own decisions by means of referendums and cooperative planning on factual issues. In representative democracies , representatives are elected by the citizens (or in the past also determined by lot ) who are to exercise power.
Although the form of government of democracy does not necessarily include this by definition, it is usually associated with a certain form of the rule of law in the external, modern, especially Western image (see also the corresponding section ). At least the following are to be mentioned:
- Guarantee of the fundamental rights of every individual towards the state, towards social groups (especially religious communities) and towards other individuals.
- Separation of powers between the state organs government ( executive ), parliament ( legislative ) and courts ( judiciary ).
- Freedom of expression , of the press and of broadcasting .
The democratic decision
In order for an election in representative democracies or a vote in direct democracies to meet minimum democratic standards, further criteria must be met in addition to the majority or consensus principle. The specific form of these criteria depends on the respective electoral process.
- General election : Every person entitled to vote can participate in elections and votes ( active right to vote ) and has the right to stand as a candidate .
- Equal election : everyone entitled to vote has the same number of votes .
- Free choice : No coercion may be exercised on the voters .
- Direct election : In the case of a person election , the vote is given directly to a candidate.
- Secret election : In order to ensure free voting, voting is often done in secret. There should also be enough time available for the decision.
As a result of the freedom to stand for election (passive right to vote), the situation can arise in which only one candidate stands for election. Of course, a real decision can only be made if there are several alternatives. Nevertheless, a vote with only one alternative is considered democratic, provided the other democratic criteria are maintained.
A democracy requires compliance with fundamental rights . This applies in particular to the
- Freedom of expression and freedom of the press : The political decision should be preceded by a free exchange of opinions and points of view.
- Freedom of organization: This means the freedom to freely form parties and organizations.
- Freedom of recipients : Ideally, every participant should know and understand what they are deciding on. However, since knowledge and understanding are difficult to test, the democratic criterion is free access to all information that is relevant for the decision.
The history of democracy is closely linked to the development of the idea of natural law , which in turn is closely related to the concept of human rights . Their roots can already be found in the acephalous (domination-free) traditional societies (e.g. hunter-gatherer communities), which the sociologist Thomas Wagner described as "egalitarian consensus democracy".
Based on natural rights, the idea of equal rights for the so-called free was developed, which is reflected in the early approaches of democratic societies . In ancient times, a person's powers of participation depended on the status of the person: In principle, only free adult men of a certain community had these rights and were entitled to speak and vote; thus women and enslaved people were excluded from political life.
The ancient Attic democracy , which developed in the 5th century BC, is regarded as the earliest example of a democratic order . After fierce struggle of the nobility and other wealthy people with the people . It granted all male full citizens of the city of Athens from the age of 30 participation in the government. Women, newcomers , under thirty-year-olds and slaves were excluded . The number of full citizens was around 30,000 to 40,000 men, around 10% of the total population. When making important decisions, e.g. B. on war and peace, at least 6,000 had to be present. Officials (e.g. the archons ) were originally determined by lot - apart from the strategists, who were responsible for the army and played a major role in the war. However, since they had a great deal of responsibility, they were after a defeat z. Some of them were banned from Attica for 10 years by the shards court .
This ancient form of government was not without controversy, for example it granted citizens the right to banish fellow citizens who were seen as dangerous to democracy with the help of the so-called ostracism . The decisions of the people's assembly were also easily influenced. Demagogues often played a fatal role in Athens' politics.
The ancient historian Christian Meier explained the introduction of Attic democracy by the ancient Greeks as follows: Democracy was the answer to the question of how politics could succeed in making rule itself an object of politics. Due to the dissatisfaction of large sections of the population in the Greek motherland in the late Archaic period (7th and 6th centuries BC) and the existence of independent and public political thought, the preliminary stage of democracy, isonomy , came first . Not least because of the successes of the free Greek poleis during the Persian Wars , this development was accelerated and found its end in the Attic democracy, in which the citizens of Athens were given the opportunity to participate in a political order based on broader strata .
Aristotle's political thinking
Aristotle uses the term democracy in his work Πολιτικά (politics) initially negatively to denote the rule of the free-born poor. This form of government, which he believes is wrong, would not pursue the common good, but only the good of the ruling part of the population (the poor). However, he does not strictly reject the participation of the common people - in a moderate form - as his teacher Plato did, to which his “ summation theory ” is a testimony. In the context of his so-called second theory of the form of the state , Aristotle also provides a differentiated theory of democracy and its forms.
Ultimately, however, he pleads for a form of mixed constitution between democracy and oligarchy as the most stable and fair form of government: for so-called politics . In it the people have their rightful share in the government through the election of officials and the control of their administration, which is exercised for the general good and not at the expense of part of the state (e.g. the wealthy).
Aristotle described freedom as the basis of the democratic form of government (Pol. VI). Since freedom is the most important quality of democracy, democrats would prefer not to allow themselves to be governed, or then only alternately. Freedom therefore means that one rulers and is ruled alternately: "All offices are occupied by everyone, everyone rules over everyone and everyone alternately over everyone". These offices would be filled by lot, preferably all, but those who do not require special experience or knowledge. The offices are all short-term in nature and - apart from military offices - should only be filled a few times.
According to Aristotle, there are three conditions for freedom:
- Autonomia ( ancient Greek αὐτονομία , " autonomy , self- legislation ", from αὐτός autós "the same" and νόμος nómos "law"): In a democracy everyone has a share in the law because the coming into effect of the law requires personal and direct participation. You give yourself a rule based on what you have recognized to be good.
- Autochthonia ("Selberdigkeit", from ancient Greek αὐτόχθων autóchthon "native, from the same country", from αὐτός autós "the same", and χθών chthon "earth"): The people should be long-established, down-to-earth and indigenous. Mixing is seen as a deterioration in quality.
- Autarkia ( ancient Greek αὐτάρκεια " autarky , self-sufficiency", from αὐτός autós "the same" and ἄρκος árkos "defense, castle"): What is meant is the complete supply from one's own and the defense against foreign gods, goods and things that are seen identically and dependencies would bring, therefore would be in contradiction to freedom and impair the free growth of one's own culture. Aristotle said that the beginning of all culture is renunciation and meant renunciation of what is not one's own.
The Roman Republic also realized a society with rudimentary democratic elements, based on the idea of equal rights for the free in the election of the republican magistrates , even if the oligarchical principle was decisive, until the gradual, continuous replacement by the principate . When choosing consuls, the system of the Comitia centuriata meant that the voice of a rich man counted significantly more than that of a poor man. On the other hand, the historian Fergus Millar takes a different point of view and rather interprets the Roman Republic as a kind of direct democratic state. The historically more significant achievement of Rome is likely to be the establishment of an early form of a constitutional state - a concept that is also closely related to our current understanding of democracy.
With Marcus Tullius Cicero , the concept of democracy is "romanized" as civitas popularis ( De re publica , I), which means that the late Republican name for the party of the " popular " gives the corresponding constitutional form. According to Cicero, this form of rule captivates through the freedom that the citizens enjoy in it, although he also sees this always threatened by the danger of the unruly masses.
Middle Ages and Modern Times
With the fall of the Roman Empire, however, the democratic idea did not completely disappear from the European political stage. In different countries one stood in the tradition of the Germanic people's assembly, the Thing , which formed the foundation stone for modern parliaments via detours:
- England: Thing ( Folcgemot ) → from the 7th century Witenagemot → from 1066 Curia Regis → 17th century, namely from 1707 British Parliament
- Iceland: Althing from 930, the oldest still existing parliament in the world
- Faroe Islands: Løgting , one of the oldest parliaments since around 900
- Isle of Man: Tynwald , the world's oldest continuously active parliament, traceable to 979
- Switzerland: Ding → Princely rule → 1291 Foundation of the Confederation to protect the "old freedoms"
- Germany: Ding → Vote courts and free imperial cities with citizens' councils
- Denmark, Sweden, Norway: Thing until approx. 12th century, from then on royal rule. Today the parliaments are called Ting again ( Storting , Folketing )
A new quality of the democratic movement did not set in until the British House of Commons emerged in the 13th century. This initially rudimentary parliament had very few rights and was almost defenseless under the power of the monarch. With the development of the absolute monarchy , the possibilities of influence even decreased. It was not until the English Civil War in the 17th century that the House of Commons was a representative body with extensive rights. The most important document of parliamentarism is the Bill of Rights of 1689, in which the new royal couple Wilhelm and Maria, who were invited to England, granted parliament immunity, disposal of finances and the right to meet without a request from the king, thereby creating the basic rights of a modern parliament . The first modern democracy was born. There were MPs like John Lilburne , who, in contrast to the system of Attic democracy, called for the abolition of slavery and serfdom , but instead demanded universal and equal suffrage for all men who should be considered “free-born”. Lilburne was the spokesman for the so-called Levellers ("equalizers"). However, these views met resistance from the upper class. He was imprisoned for years under the rule of Oliver Cromwell . Like the ancient rulers, the upper class viewed all democratic movements with the greatest suspicion and, for fear of losing their privileges, accused them of wanting to bring the mob to power.
In 1755 Pasquale Paoli wrote a constitution for Corsica . It is a mixed constitution based on the ancient model with democratic elements, which were also fed by regional traditions in Corsica. It is the first modern constitution in the world.
In 1762 Jean-Jacques Rousseau published his idea of the social contract ( Du contract Social; ou Principes du Droit Politique ) and with this contract theory he established the identity democracy , according to which the ruler and the ruled are identical. The resulting principle of popular sovereignty is based on the common will, the volonté générale . The division of powers established by John Locke and Charles Montesquieu into legislative , judicial and executive branches is also seen as an elementary component of a modern democratic constitutional state.
At that time, 5 Indian tribes in North America had come together to form the Iroquois League and adopted a council constitution. Benjamin Franklin and other American statesmen were inspired by the Iroquois, among others, to shape the American constitution.
The preparatory work of these philosophers, the model of English parliamentarism and also the model of the Iroquois constitution were taken into account when the first modern democratic state emerged with the constitution of the United States of America in 1787. Poland-Lithuania gave itself a democratic state system with the constitution of May 3, 1791 . With the introduction of the "Landbotenkammer", the right to have a say in politics, which until then was limited to the nobility, was extended to include the wealthy bourgeoisie . These processes inspired the French Revolution and led to the gradual democratization of other European countries, with English parliamentarism deserving special mention.
Many of the democratic forms of government that can be found in Europe today are based on country-specific, aristocratic predecessor models . In the Middle Ages and the early modern period, the ruling classes of the nobility , church representatives and the wealthy bourgeoisie exercised their political rights vis-à-vis the ruler in the interests of their class. This concerned in particular territorial and border conflicts, military service and tax collection, questions of the separation of powers and the choice of ruler (see also status order ). The further modern development of democracy in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries is closely linked to republicanism . Revolutionaries of the American and French revolutions were concerned about whether democracy, in the sense of popular participation in power, could remain stable or develop into mob rule . During this time, democracy was also subject to skepticism as to whether it could even be realized in large territorial states, which also differed from the ancient democracies in that the citizens did not know each other personally. Another problem was seen in the greater social and cultural differences in the population compared to ancient democracies.
According to reports from Freedom House , an American organization that monitors the development of democracy around the world, in 1900 there were 55 sovereign states worldwide, none of which were democratic. This is because the liberal states of this year did not have the right to vote for women, which is a basic requirement for democracy according to the Freedom House criteria. In 1950 there were already 22 democracies among the now 80 sovereign states. For 1999 Freedom House counts 192 sovereign states and almost half, 85 states, to the democracies. Critical to this classification are two criteria: political rights (political rights) and civil liberties (civil liberties), which meet minimum standards in those countries. Among the new states are many young democracies that only emerged in the last two decades of the 20th century in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Development of the Democratic Movement in Germany
Forms of democracy
Democracy is a changeable form of rule. In the course of history and in political science theory , it has developed very differently.
In many countries the political system is supplemented by individual elements of direct or plebiscitary democracy .
In large parts of the 1968 and alternative movements , the term “ grassroots democracy ” was common instead of direct democracy . Direct democracy, or at least the introduction of more plebiscite elements at the federal and state levels, were declared goals.
In representative democracy , representatives of the people are authorized to exercise power for a limited time. After this period has expired, the composition of the representative body must be re-decided by election. The period is usually several years. A period of 4 to 8 years has become naturalized in many states. The people are represented not only in the legislative organs (parliament, council), but also in the legislative organs (government, administration). The latter are occasionally not elected directly by the people, but indirectly through representatives of the people .
In elections as a form of political participation, state power comes from the people insofar as they elect the representatives (persons or parties) who make the political decisions for the time of the next electoral period. With pure proportional representation, the voter can name a party that comes closest to his or her political ideas. The parties are then represented in parliament with the strength that corresponds to their share of the vote. With pure majority voting, the candidate from each constituency moves into parliament who has the most votes there. There are also various mixed forms.
In the demarchy , representatives and the government are not elected by the people, but are chosen at random from among the people. The character of the demarchy can be classified between direct and representative democracy. This becomes clear if, on the one hand, decisions in the demarchy are viewed as a random sample of popular opinion, which corresponds to direct democracy. On the other hand, one can see those determined at random in the sense of representative democracy as representatives of the people who were only determined in a different way. Citizens' councils are a current example of demarchic tendencies in the political system .
Most modern democracies are representative democracies with direct democratic elements at the national and / or local level. The people make both personal and factual decisions ( plebiscites ). Such a hybrid is called plebiscitary democracy. The weighting of the representative and direct democratic elements can vary from state to state. Therefore one further distinguishes between semi-direct, mixed and conditionally representative democracy.
The term plebiscitary democracy is also used as a collective term for all people-direct votes (factual decisions). In Switzerland, the term is synonymous with people's rights.
Switzerland is a plebiscitary democracy at national, cantonal and communal level, whereby a parliament is legislative at national and in most cantons also at cantonal level and in larger communes (cities) at communal level, and the people only legislate on constitutional changes in parliamentary decisions and votes on changes in the law. In addition, the people have the right to initiate a constitution , in which a number of citizens can propose an amendment to the constitution that has to be voted on. In addition, with enough signatures, a referendum on a law passed by parliament can be forced. Some small cantons have in addition to the Parliament, the rural community on. At the municipal level, the smaller municipalities do not have a representative body (usually called residents 'councils), but rather decisions that are discussed and voted on directly at a citizens' assembly (usually called a municipal assembly).
Presidential and parliamentary systems of government
|Systems of government in the world|
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In order not to jeopardize the existence of a democracy through the concentration of power, legislation and government are usually separated from one another according to the principle of the separation of powers . In practice, both are not to be seen independently of one another (e.g. via party affiliations): The parliamentary group that has the majority in the parliament usually also provides the government. The principle of separation of powers is thereby partially broken (see also faction discipline ). The difference between a more presidential and a more parliamentary system of government lies in the extent to which the government is dependent on the representatives of the people.
- Presidential systems (e.g. the USA ) are characterized by a strong position of the head of government vis-à-vis parliament. He is at the same time not responsible to the head of state and to parliament, although there is usually a possibility for impeachment proceedings .
- In parliamentary systems, the government has to answer to parliament. This therefore governs in a certain way. It can, for example, dismiss the government under certain conditions or set up a new one (for example in Germany).
- Semi-presidential systems are a hybrid. The president and the head of government (prime minister) are two different people with evenly distributed power (as in France, for example ). While the government is responsible to parliament here as well, the directly elected president is largely independent in his exercise of power in his area of responsibility.
The difference between the systems becomes clear when it comes to the approval requirement for certain decisions: in the USA, for example, the president can freely order a military operation, in Germany the Federal Chancellor (head of government) requires a positive vote from parliament (→ principle of the parliamentary army ).
In presidential-oriented systems, the president is often directly elected by the people in order to better legitimize the strong position of power through closer proximity to the sovereign. The elected can refer political opponents to his emphasized democratic legitimacy and power. In a parliamentary democracy, the government is usually elected by parliament and can also be removed from parliament by a vote of no confidence . Conversely, parliament can often also be dissolved by the government.
Majority Democracy, Concordance Democracy, and Consensus Democracy
In majority democracies , the government is made up of parties that together have a majority in parliament. This means that the government has a good chance of pushing through its political program in parliament. However, if there is a change of government, an opposite policy can be followed. Great Britain and the United States of America are examples of majority democracy.
In a concordance democracy , public offices are distributed according to proportional representation or parity . All major parties and major stakeholders are involved in the decision-making process and the decision is practically always a compromise. The decision-making process takes more time and major changes are hardly possible. On the other hand, conditions are stable over a longer period of time and no political decisions are overturned if there is a change of government. Switzerland is an example of a concordance democracy. The distinction between concordance and consensus democracy is difficult and varies greatly depending on the author.
Consensus democracies generally show a pronounced division of power in the executive , an equal two-chamber system , the use of proportional representation and a rigid constitution that can only be changed by a two-thirds majority . Germany is therefore seen as a consensus democracy.
Sham democracy and defective democracy
At the moment there is hardly a country in the world that does not present itself to the outside world as democratic. The term “democracy” is often included in the name of the state. Nevertheless, many states, although they represent and name themselves as democracies, show deficits in the implementation of essential democratic elements and fundamental rights (for example free, equal and secret elections or votes, freedom of expression and freedom of the press). Such states and political systems, which give themselves the appearance of a democracy, but do not meet the established demands of a democracy, are referred to as sham democracy. Democracy measurements try to capture the actual degree of democratization of a state or political system.
In comparative political science, defective democracy is used to describe political systems in which democratic elections take place, but which, measured against the normative foundations of liberal democracies (rights of participation, rights of freedom, control of violence, etc.) show various defects. A distinction is made within the defective democracies: Exclusive democracy, illiberal democracy , delegative democracy and enclave democracy. The concept of defective democracy is controversial in political science.
Effects and problems of democracy
Democratic structures have established themselves in many countries, as well as in some churches, for example in Presbyterian churches , the United Methodist Church and Swiss national churches (in Switzerland even Catholic pastors are elected by the community).
Overall social perspective
The democratic idea needs to be realized in society. In democracies, an essential, if not the decisive, process of political opinion and will-formation can be located among the citizens. This already corresponds to the understanding of democracy in antiquity, when the marketplace, agora or forum were important places for political opinion-forming. But also in accordance with numerous current theoretical considerations of democracy, a political public anchored in civil society is accorded central importance as a condition for a functioning democracy.
A special situation arises in those states that make an abrupt change to democracy, as happened in Germany in 1918, 1945 and 1990 ( democratization ). In such cases, in addition to the above-mentioned influences, there are after-effects of the discarded systems, which can lead to significant acceptance problems due to the associated social and economic distortions. The data published by the Federal Statistical Office show a decreasing acceptance of democracy for the Federal Republic of Germany. The number of those in the old federal states who prefer a form of government other than democracy increased from 9% to 17% between 2000 and 2005, and in eastern Germany from 27% to 41%. Here the unemployed and workers are most critical of democracy (source: Datenreport 2006). Other studies, such as the study Vom Rand zum Mitte on right-wing extremism in Germany, which became known in November 2006 , suggest the same facts. Globalization, social cuts and immigration have led to Europeans losing confidence in democracy. The euphoria of 1989, the world-historical breakthrough of the democratic idea, has evaporated. In the struggles of the plain, the desire to turn back to old orders and certainties grows. The value system of the West has lost its former radiance in the new Eastern European EU member states. And in the old west too, doubts are growing about the free constitution and the advantages of democracy. The conclusions from these empirical findings, which are misrepresented by the majority of the print media in the opinion of critics, ignore the fact that these results are judgments about the actually existing democracy and therefore do not necessarily imply a rejection of the constitutionally provided democracy can. Most media are unable to recognize this self-critically, as they are themselves stuck with an understanding of politics from pre-democratic times. Through headlines and editorials, the press promotes policies that approximate economic trends. Efficiency arguments are often cited as justification: “Just as (politicians) try to steer the state, a company could not be successful.” This would overlook the fact that democratically constituted states rely on the establishment of a consensus in often lengthy coordination and negotiation processes are instructed. In this respect, criticism of parliamentary processes based solely on speed and efficiency and calls for quick expert rounds is deeply undemocratic. The party researcher Franz Walter sums up the prevailing stance of the media as follows: The triumphant advance of media democracy has "brought a neo-authoritarian, leveling move into politics".
Another measure of the democratic quality of the state is its understanding of people as recipients of services. The fact that state administrations are not an end in themselves, but rather should serve the people, is a traditional part of European and especially German administrative culture . Nevertheless, in many places in the administrations there are still authoritarian ideas that are incompatible with the understanding of democracy and the rule of law, because they are not designed with the effects on people in mind. Another reason for this is the increasing susceptibility to corruption . a. generally has advantage thinking and poor earning potential.
Despite various weaknesses of democracy, against the background of past and present fascisms and other totalitarian or authoritarian systems, there is a positive balance of democratic systems which, according to Hermann Broch, have worked and are almost a prerequisite for the development of humanity . According to Broch, a lasting existence of democracy is only guaranteed when it has developed into a civil religion . Such a civil religion is also called for by the influential political scientist Benjamin R. Barber : “We need a kind of global civil religion, that is, what we already have at the American level. We need a civil faith that transcends blood and local affiliation and enables people to organize around common principles ”.
The demands of democracy on its citizens
Responsible citizens are an important prerequisite for maintaining democratic legitimacy. However, democracy itself is incapable of (re-) producing those citizens who are actually needed for the functioning of the democratic system. Successful participation, for example, can only succeed if the citizens act in a self-determined and independent manner and, in this sense, have certain citizenship qualities. On the one hand, this requires basic political (factual) knowledge. However, procedural political knowledge and certain personality traits of the citizens themselves are also important. The latter represents the core idea of the concept of virtue, which is characterized by an orientation towards the community, certain emotions and motivation for action. The political virtue is thus characterized by the combination of a cognitive and action-motivating component.
Different political systems require different political virtues. For (western) democratic systems loyalty, courage, tolerance, solidarity or fairness are important characteristics of the citizens for maintaining the democratic system. In order to promote, expand and reproduce these (and other necessary) dispositions, supportive, institutional framework conditions are required . In the tradition of deliberative democracy, institutions such as citizen forums or assemblies would be suitable so that citizens can develop their various political competencies . In this context, citizens could exchange views on political issues in order to expand the depth of political discourse on the intellectual, procedural and also the moral level.
The key to maintaining the democratic system is therefore the promotion and expansion of political knowledge in order to achieve the greatest possible autonomy in the formation of a political opinion, including the political preferences of each individual citizen.
Exclusion from democratic elections
This right does not depend on belonging to the real population, but on citizenship . Women now have the right to vote in recognized democracies. In Switzerland, however, women's suffrage has only existed since 1971, Appenzell Innerrhoden was the last canton to introduce it at cantonal level and, due to a corresponding federal court ruling, only introduced it in 1990 (see also: Women 's suffrage in Switzerland ).
Foreign nationals who do not have citizenship are usually not allowed to participate in democratic elections in the country in which they live (neither passively nor actively). Some democratic states have very high foreigner rates, for example Luxembourg has a foreigner rate of 43.5%, Switzerland 21.7%, Spain 12.3%, Austria 10.3% and Germany 8.8% (as of 2010). However, there are exceptional cases in which foreigners are granted the right to vote: In some Swiss cantons and municipalities, foreigners are entitled to vote. In principle, EU citizens in EU states are also allowed to participate in political elections at local level - even if they are citizens of another EU state.
A political science thesis is the idea of democratic peace . It says that democracies have hardly ever waged wars against one another in history and sees this as a positive characteristic of the democratic system. However, at least Athenian democracy cannot be used as an example for this thesis (although it was not a democracy in the modern sense). According to Kant , democracies should therefore be comparatively peaceful, since their voters were reluctant to send themselves to war. However, this is denied by various peace and conflict researchers, because some empirical studies cast doubt on this thesis. So far it has not been proven that democracies wage fewer wars overall than undemocratic states. Especially in relation to non-democracies, the spread of democratic structures is often given as a reason for war. However, democracies actually wage wars among themselves to a significantly lesser extent than is the case between nations constituted in other forms of government.
Several decades of research are available on the relationship between democracy and economic growth . Studies from the 1980s concluded that some indicators of political freedom had statistically significant positive effects on growth. Studies from the 1990s came to conflicting results. In 1993 Przeworski and Limongi came to the conclusion that it was not known whether democracy promoted or hindered economic growth. Thus Barro (1996) comes to the conclusion that democracy and economic growth are not causally related, but are influenced by third factors such as human capital . Rodrik (1997) states that there is no strong, deterministic relationship between democracy and growth when other factors are kept constant .
Several arguments are made in this context: First, democracies allow incompetent, inefficient and corrupt governments to be voted out of office, which in the long term increases the quality of government. Authoritarian regimes may happen to create high-quality governments, but if they don't, it's harder to get rid of them. According to Sen (2000), the rulers of a democracy have to listen to the wishes of the voters if they are exposed to criticism and want support in elections.
On the other hand it is argued that interest by lobbying for power and pensions paralyze democracy and to prevent significant for the development process decisions. For example, the former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew , argues that his country's remarkable growth over the past 30 years would allegedly not have been possible without the strict restrictions of political rights. Others have referred to the successful economic reforms of the People's Republic of China and compared them to the economically less successful but more democratic Russia . In some democracies (for example in Latin America) a similar power structure prevails as in authoritarian regimes.
Another argument against the notion that democracy promotes growth is that democracy could undermine investment by significantly increasing desires for immediate consumption.
It can thus be concluded that democratization (e.g. political rights, civil rights or free press) does not inevitably lead to improved government. Rivera-Batiz (2002) confirms from an analysis of empirical data on 115 countries 1960–1990 that democracy is a significant determinant of total factor productivity only if democratic institutions with higher governance quality (e.g. low corruption , secure property rights ) accompanied.
Democracy and the rule of law
The main two functions for achieving and maintaining freedom and security are democracy (self-rule of the people through (de) election of their government) and the rule of law : not arbitrariness, but verifiable application of written laws should bind power to the will of the citizen and make it verifiable by courts .
It is undisputed that majorities in a democracy can pass laws and have them enforced, violate minority rights or even contravene the legal concept itself; Democracy as an external form does not protect against derailments, does not prevent the majority from suppressing a minority or calling for war.
It was often discussed in philosophy and the theory of the state (more as an abstract thought model than as a recommendation for practice): If the rule of law could be seen as secure - then whether democracy would still have to be a mandatory element of the state?
It is seen as certain that democracy alone cannot create a state of freedom and security, because the mistrust of all against all cannot be removed by the formal provisions of elections, the formation of a government, etc. alone. Only trust in the institutions can reduce mutual distrust and allow mutual trust to grow.
The rule of law creates institutions and procedures that in turn build trust and tie power to law. Democracy as a sphere of politics lives from the controversy of opinion; The rule of law with its legal disputes lives from belief in the legitimacy of the law and from loyalty to the law and the constitution.
The stability of the legal system and the predictability of certain developments (e.g. tax legislation) play a major role in economic decisions; Investors like to look for an environment for long-term and capital-intensive ventures that can be viewed as predictable and safe.
Not infrequently this leads to legal certainty being accepted completely detached from democracy. The involvement of German companies in the former Boer South Africa (racial segregation, apartheid) or in post-Maoist China (capitalist reforms with the communist party claiming total power) has been criticized again and again.
Supposedly irrational and ignorant voters
Economists have at times criticized the efficiency of democracy. The criticism is based on the assumption of the ignorant or irrational voter. It is argued that voters are poorly informed about many political issues, especially economic ones, and are subject to systematic distortions even in areas that are better known to them. Regarding the causes and consequences of voter ignorance, Anthony Downs coined the idea of rational ignorance as early as 1957 . In his model, voters weigh up the costs and benefits of obtaining political information and voting, which, from a social perspective of the common good , leads to irrational political decisions or non- voting because of the lack of influence on the outcome . Mancur Olson (1965) names the tendency in democracy of well-organized interest groups capable of acting to exert political influence (especially so-called "privileged groups" of small size and with special interests such as dairy farmers, steel producers or pilot unions), which results from this, what individuals are willing to do for or against. The great majority of voters develop rational ignorance, since the individual can only benefit personally to a very small extent from a rational policy or would finance an irrational policy (e.g. agricultural subsidies ) and therefore not organize. A policy that best serves the interests of the various majorities as a whole therefore does not even emerge. Daniel Kahneman , Amos Tversky (1982) and other representatives of behavioral economics showed that people show a tendency towards the status quo , which in democratic elections could hinder positive political reforms for society as a whole.
Empirical findings on voter ignorance have been around for decades. Voters are often (albeit differently strong from country to country) interested in politics or not at all and in many important areas do not know what individual parties stand for. Only 29% of American adults know the name of their congressman; only 24% know the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution . Since voters do not vote selfishly, but with a view to social well-being, this ignorance about political issues could become a problem.
The economist Donald Wittman (1997) tried to refute this criticism. He argues that democracy is efficient as long as voters are rational, elections are competitive, and political transaction costs are low. A lack of information does not lead to distortions, since errors would be balanced out on average under the premise of the rational voter.
However, according to some empirical evidence, voters are often irrational . The problem is not a lack of information, but a systematic misinterpretation of information. There is evidence of systematic differences of opinion between experts and laypeople. For example, laypeople consider Paracelsu's principle “the amount alone makes the poison” far more wrong than natural scientists, and in comparison to economists laypeople underestimate the benefits of trade . Second, conflicting opinions can also be found within the public . About half of US citizens believe that God created man or that astrology provides scientific knowledge. If the citizens were rational and truth-seeking, such fundamental differences of opinion could not arise within the population.
Joseph Schumpeter wrote on the behavior of people in relation to political matters:
“Thus the typical citizen drops down to a lower level of mental performance as soon as he enters the political field. He argues and analyzes in a way which he would readily recognize as infantile within the sphere of his real interests. "
“So the typical citizen falls to a lower level of intellectual achievement as soon as he enters the political field. He argues and analyzes in a manner that, within the sphere of his real interests, he would willingly recognize as infantile. "
In order to solve the problems of democracy, Bryan Caplan has taken the approach of shifting more decisions from the public to the private sphere. Robin Hanson suggests a futarchy in which more decisions are made in prediction markets. The philosopher Jason Brennan advocates a moderate epistocracy in which the right to vote is reserved for sufficiently competent citizens. The philosopher Johannes Heinrichs proposes a political four-tier structure in which there would be four parliaments instead of a single parliament; a fundamental values, a political, a cultural and an economic parliament . The Berlin journalist Florian Felix Weyh proposes in his book The Last Election a demarchy in which the decision-makers are no longer determined by elections , but by lottery . Similar suggestions come from Burkhard Wehner and Hubertus Buchstein .
Anne O. Krueger (1974) criticized the fact that in democracies companies divert resources from their productive use to lobbying in order to receive political pensions , for example in the form of protectionism .
Lack of equality or representation
Political equality is one of the prerequisites for democracy: ideally, every citizen should have the same vote. While it is impossible for a government to take into account the preference of every citizen at all times, from a democratic point of view there should not be any systematic inequality whose voice is heard. An analysis of 25 European countries shows, however, that there is hardly any equality of votes, especially on the question of social redistribution or the welfare state. Lower-income groups tend to be under-represented, while higher-income groups are over-represented. The study also found that this different representation is more pronounced when the preferences of rich and poor differ more from one another. When these preferences mismatch, governments tend to follow the preferences of the rich more than those of the poor.
Another study examined a similar issue using the Swiss parliament. She compared poll data on citizens' opinions with MPs on economic issues in the 2007-11 parliamentary term. The results showed that MPs are generally less in favor of state intervention in the economy than the average citizen. The results also show that relatively poor citizens are less represented in their opinion than citizens with high incomes.
According to a research report from 2016 on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs , the preferences of social groups are taken into account to varying degrees not only in economic issues, but generally in political decisions . Data from the period between 1998 and 2015 were evaluated. There was a clear correlation between political decisions and the attitudes of people with higher incomes, but none or even a negative correlation for those with low incomes.
Modern democracies are also accused of thinking in the short term. Institutional deficiencies in dealing with ecological problems, which are mostly long-term, are particularly criticized. The focus of the criticism is the short decision horizons. Decisions are usually assessed after 4 to 5 years (end of the “ legislative period ”). This is why - according to the criticism - decisions that initially have a negative effect and only later develop advantages are usually not made.
The media are considered essential for a functioning and free democracy. They fulfill crucial functions such as controlling political processes and conveying information. The press is therefore often referred to as the “fourth estate”. However, for these functions to be perceived and carried out objectively, the media must be independent.
Since the mass media have an opinion-forming effect, they can influence the population and thus politics. This can also take on problematic form if z. B. The media determine the political climate and political decisions in a country (“media democracy”). On the other hand, political actors can also influence the media and thus manipulate the voters. Furthermore, the motivation of the media is criticized. The profit orientation of the media often leads to the primacy of audience ratings over factual reporting and investigative journalism. "Scandalization, dramatization and personalization let arguments and political positions recede."
Democracy can suppress the freedom of the individual, similar to dictatorships. Majority decisions can lead to the disadvantage of individuals who do not belong to this majority . Alexis de Tocqueville described this problem as the “dictatorship of the majority”. The legitimacy of the majority principle presupposes that human dignity , including democratic participation rights, and the fundamental rights of minorities are preserved.
In addition, the participatory theory of democracy criticizes the fact that there are too few opportunities for codecision and self-realization in modern democracy. Therefore, the basic principle of the protection of minorities , which is part of the important freedom concept of pluralism , represents the balance against the majority principle. In the real-political context, this is represented, for example, by the so-called number of estates in Switzerland: In addition to the majority of the votes, the majority of the Cantons (estates) advocate an amendment to the constitution (a simple popular majority applies to changes in the law ).
In the majority decision is voting paradox is a simple example that of several individual transitive preference lists without arbitrary preference not always feasible collective transitive preference lists can create. In particular, it is a special case of Arrow's impossibility theorem , which proves the fundamental impossibility of an ever-present “democratic” collective preference list.
In other words, theses on the reliability of the informative power of unqualified voters were already invalidated in the 18th century: Marquis de Condorcet, the French mathematician and political scientist, contemporary of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, became the father of the "Social choice theory". His “jury theorem” deals with the theoretical, i.e. mathematical, investigation of the observation that a group of people - albeit only under certain restrictions - can find the right answer to a question by voting, although the individuals do not even know the answer. To this end, however, one must consider the “restrictions” just mentioned: they consist in the requirement that the voters as a group and as individuals must meet requirements that practically never occur in the real world. In addition to limiting this discovery, Condorcet found out that this system harbors another peculiar weak point, which under certain conditions even leads to a worse result than the opinions of the individual, the Condorcet paradox mentioned above. This has just as 200 years later Arrow 's Impossibility Theorem attention to the irrationality in group decisions. Regardless of this ambiguous situation, this concept was revived as a modern social choice theory and further scientifically processed as “social epistemology” with the aim of “truth tracking”, the finding of truth according to the motto: “should we believe that”. The latter is described as the philosophy that “… democratic decisions are generally to be regarded as competent, even if the majority of voters are incompetent ”, on the assumption that “… it is at least theoretically possible that the democratic Voters as a collective are competent, although the vast majority of individuals are politically incompetent ”. * , P. 171
Corresponding to these contradictions, there are critics of this philosophy, which amounts to questioning the supposed meaning of “public” in the sense of “common” justification. Kenneth Arrow is one of these critics with his theorem of impossibility, with which he points out that results can result that appear senseless to all those involved as individuals as soon as a question contains several factors, e.g. B. more than just “yes” or “no”, “right” or “wrong”, “for” or “against”. The political scientist William Riker also counts himself among the critics with his “ mathematical proof of the impossibility of populist democracy ” *, as do Amartya Sen and others. The main problem - and thus the risk for society - is that this does not lead to correctness in the sense of a broad understanding of "truth", but rather to "public opinion", in which evidence, rumors and superstitions are mixed up. An example of this is the problem of enforcing compulsory vaccination against a prejudice that is widely anchored in the population.
Critical comments on democracy, arguments about, and especially in, democracy are as old as democracy itself.
Democracy in Classical Greece is often placed in the foreground as the cradle of democracy and as a model system; However, it has already been criticized by contemporary historians and philosophers:
Aristotle counts democracy in his theory of the forms of the state to one of the three "degenerate" constitutions in which the rulers only serve their self-interest. He describes democracy as a rule of the many free and poor to the detriment of the able and wealthy, since they determine politics based on their majority. It should be noted, however, that, in today's understanding, he was alluding more to ochlocracy (the degeneration of democracy through rule of the mob) and not to our understanding of democracy.
The historian Thucydides (c. 450 to 390 BC) portrays Pericles, the eminent statesman of the glory days of Athens, as the master of persuasion who dominated his era, and describes Athens as “ a democracy in name, but in reality a reign of the first man ”. P. 31 Even the poet Euripides does not lack criticism in one of his tragedies: in his tragedy “Die Schutzflehenden” [Greek. Hiketides], the Herald from Thebes says to Theseus: “ The city from which I come is ruled by only one man, not by the mob; no one there arouses the citizens with misleading speeches, and directs them here and there for his own benefit - loved one by all for his exuberant favors, the next for ruin for all; and yet he escapes punishment by hiding his offenses behind the misdeeds of others ”. While Thucydides was only banned because of his criticism p. 169 , Socrates had to accept the death sentence for it. Socrates had criticized the jurisprudence in his country, but accepted it; Albertus Magnus, on the other hand, the doctrine of the Church from the 13th century, attacked them sharply by writing: “ Since they are such idiots in their laziness, in order not to be regarded as idiots, they seek something for those who are scientifically above them to attach. Such people killed Socrates, chased Plato from Athens into the academy, worked against Aristotle and forced him to emigrate. “He is talking about legalized lynching, implemented by a manipulated pack. In the case of Socrates it was a diffuse accusation that basically consisted of nothing but “bad reputation”. His pupil Plato, himself a child of the aristocratic caste, titled his prognosis in “Politeia” (The State) with the heading: “ Dissolution of democracy through its insatiability for freedom ” , chapter 14, §563-566, p. 262f and prophesies their inevitable doom. In his view, although oligarchy requires a revolution and then democracy, the latter is short-lived and should be replaced by wise philosopher-kings and aristocrats, who ideally should live like monks without possessions and without families; Regarding the “republic”, he says: “ So the state is governed by very poorly worked out ideas that experts use in manipulation and mass appeals to come to power ”. 6th book, chap. 14-15, pp. 215f. In democracy, as the political scientist Grayling quotes Plato, "demands and claims ... everyone freedom and the right to make and break laws and ... this immediately means anarchy, because freedom is not just freedom, but permission to licentiousness" * p. 17 .
Plato's criticism of democracy also includes a systematically compelling selection process for unqualified politicians, believes Christiano, and writes “... Those who are only experts on election victories and nothing else will ultimately dominate democratic politics. Democracy tends to foster this form of expertise at the expense of those necessary for adequate political leadership ”. *
The philosopher Bertrand Russell interprets the system of ancient Athens more as oligarchy, and relativizes the importance of their right to vote. P. 81 His criticism includes a reference to one of the most problematic properties that began with the Sparta system: democracy has always only been able to live from the fact that enslaved ethnic groups in their environment had to do most of the life-sustaining work for them. This dependence on prosperity, even its steady increase, is also noted by recent authors of contemporary democracies, combined with the concern that economic crises tend to destabilize democracies Przeworski et al. believe that the "... per capita income, our measure of the level of development,  has a strong effect on the viability of democracies" . *
Bertrand Russell's criticism of democracy is to be classified in a similar way when he says: “The time of Pericles in the history of Athens corresponds to the Victorian period in English history. At that time Athens was rich and powerful, suffered little from wars and had a democratic constitution which the aristocrats administered " p. 96 and on: " Until the fall of Pericles, the progress of democracy brought an increase in power for the aristocracy, like in England during the nineteenth century. ” p. 82 Plato's prognosis ends, in the words of British political scientist AC Grayling, with “ revolting mobs who introduce the law of arbitrariness, soon followed by anarchy and chaos, against which tyranny intervenes and takes control . " P. 148
Karl Popper took up Plato's paradox of tolerance in his book “The Open Society and Their Enemies” in 1945 by explaining: “In the name of tolerance we should actually demand the right not to tolerate intolerance. We would have to demand that any movement preaching intolerance go outside the law, and we would have to prosecute incitement to intolerance as criminal in the same way as incitement to murder, kidnapping or the reintroduction of the slave trade. " * P. 581 Popper added u. a. also a “paradox of freedom”: “Plato raises the following question: what if it is the will of the people that they do not rule themselves, but instead a tyrant?” Popper calls it “a contradicting theory of sovereignty , ”* , P. 117 and further: “ All theories of sovereignty are paradoxical ”, for example the remark by Heraclitus “ The law can also require that the will of a man must be obeyed. ” * , P. 117 Popper mentions Finally, as a further decisive risk factor: "According to Plato, internal strife and class struggle, fueled by selfishness, especially material and economic self-interest, are the main driving forces of the 'social dynamic'." * , p. 39 In accordance with this, the French political scientist Revel wrote: “It is clear that the pursuit of equality, in which De Tocqueville saw the main driving force of democracy, leads to uniformity, but we should not forget en that democracy is also based on the pursuit of freedom, which leads to diversity, fragmentation, isolation, as Plato, its subtle enemy, put it so magnificently by comparing democratic society with a motley, pieced-together coat ”. 78, p. 22 AC Grayling argues that “Aristotle thought that Plato's version of aristocracy was impractical because it ignored human nature,” * but he admits that “the practical difficulty of attaining even this lesser ideal , ... a challenge for democracy even today [remains] ”. * , p. 20
Alexis de Tocqueville and democracy in the USA
After visiting the United States and Great Britain between 1830 and 1840, Alexis de Tocqueville, the diplomat and political scientist from France, described in his publication “Democracy in America” the risk inherent in democracy to develop towards a mediocracy because of the Majority "an invisible form of despotism [arises] ... which does not break the will of anyone, but softens it", * , p. 95 an opinion that is partly reminiscent of LeBon, as well as the words "... one can also find in the human heart a depraved taste for equality that drives the weak to pull the strong down to their level and degrades people to prefer equality in enslavement to inequality in freedom ”. This attitude is also reflected in a comment on De Tocqueville's text: “Tocqueville warns against any despotism inherent in democracy, especially that of the majority, or legal protective measures by the state (disempowerment through overprotection) as a danger that is greater than in other forms of government. "*
De Tocqueville's other warnings are not so much directed against democracy as such as they are aimed at showing who is responsible: they show that ultimately the people determine what should happen, but not the political system: “The majority of the people includes 'Thinking' in a terrifying enclosure. A writer is free as long as he stays within this framework, but woe to the man who leaves him not to fear charges, but he must be prepared to be followed with all kinds of inconveniences in everyday life. A career in politics is closed to him because he has insulted the only power that holds the keys to it ”. 44 De Tocqueville nevertheless remained of the opinion: "Democracy is inevitable ... so let us make people capable of it", * p. 95 because democracy has "become fate of the world" ("un fait providentiel"). , S. 50 Popper even warns against a well-meaning dictator at this point: “One of the difficulties a well-meaning dictator faces is figuring out whether his good intentions match his successes (as de Tocqueville made clear over a hundred years ago has seen). The difficulty arises from the fact that authoritarian leadership suppresses criticism; therefore the benevolent dictator will find it difficult to hear of complaints ... ”. * , p. 149
Today, some experts describe the US as more of a millionaires' timocracy (government of the haves and the prestigious), spending billions on lobbying, political wrangling and " gerrymandering " (political trickery over the size of constituencies). Some authors go even further than the EIU report and argue that the US is no longer a democracy at all: “... a third reason is that [apart from Gerrymandering and the fact that the Senate is not representative] that a decision by the Colonel Court of Justice allows billionaires to give unlimited financial support to election campaigns at all levels; Political offices are bought and sold like a pair of socks ”. * , p. 183
The German-American political philosopher and sociologist Herbert Marcuse wrote soberly in the mid-1970s: " The regressive development of bourgeois democracy, the transition to a police and war state that it has carried out itself must be discussed in the context of global US politics" . , P. 146 “ The featureless masses that form the basis of American democracy today are the harbingers of its conservative-reactionary if not neo-fascist tendencies . ... In free elections with universal suffrage, the people ... elected a belligerent government that for many years has waged a war that represents a single set of unprecedented crimes against humanity - a government of corporate representatives ..., one government riddled with corruption ”. , P. 150 Marcuse cites the increase in prosperity as an explanation for this development. And further: " The spectacle of the re-election of Nixon is the nightmarish epoch of the epoch in which the transformation of bourgeois democracy into neo-fascism takes place ...". , P. 152 " By emphasizing the sensually perceptible 'image', the 'sex appeal' of a political leader, the US system masters the depth of satisfactory self-submission in a terribly efficient manner ." Marcuse's next sentence, written in 1973, corresponds almost to a comment on the situation in the USA since 2017: “ Incidentally, the character of the> Image <seems to be in line with the increasing ugliness of the system, with its brutality, with the replacement of hypocrisy open lies and deceptions to change. As the boss of this gigantic corporation that the nation has become, the president can now be extremely ugly, no longer has to have charm and sex appeal, but above all efficiency and business acumen ”. , P. 154
Democracy has recently been criticized for showing too little political stability. This can be explained by the fact that frequently changing governments quickly change the institutional and legal framework. Among other things, this circumstance is said to have a negative effect on economic growth, since economic investments prefer a predictable political framework. Some political analyzes therefore come to the conclusion that democracy is unsuitable for the economic development of less developed countries.
On the other hand, other political analyzes emphasize that democracies change, but not as drastically as e.g. B. dictatorships. This statement is also supported by the fact that democracy requires majority decisions and therefore usually tends to compromise.
In the election campaign, political actors often outdo each other with promises to win the voters' votes. However, exaggerated promises can rarely be implemented. In addition, political actors avoid correcting their promises because they fear losing votes. "Democracy is always in danger of overwhelming itself, disappointing its citizens and therefore losing trust and approval."
- Democracy deficit
- Democracy promotion
- Democracy index
- Democracy measurement
- Libertarian democracy
- List of forms of government
- Social democracy
- Socialist democracy
- Democracy Street
- Value democracy
History of democracy in general
- Luciano Canfora : A Brief History of Democracy. From Athens to the European Union . Papyrossa, Cologne 2006, ISBN 3-89438-350-X (Italian: La democrazia. Storia di un'ideologia . Translated by Rita Seuss, controversial overview).
- Werner Conze , Reinhart Koselleck , Hans Maier , Christian Meier , Hans Leo Reimann: Democracy . In: Otto Brunner, Werner Conze, Reinhart Koselleck (eds.): Basic historical concepts. Historical lexicon on political and social language in Germany . tape 1 . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1972, ISBN 3-12-903850-7 , p. 821–899 (basic explanation of the concept of democracy from antiquity to modern times, including literature references).
- Robert Alan Dahl : On Democracy . Yale University Press, New Haven / London 2000, ISBN 0-300-08455-2 .
- Robert Alan Dahl: Political Equality. An ideal? Hamburger Edition, Hamburg 2006, ISBN 3-936096-72-4 (English: On political equality . Translated by Barbara Steckhan, Thomas Wollermann, Gabriele Gockel).
- David Held: Models of Democracy . 3. Edition. Polity Press, Cambridge / Malden 2006, ISBN 0-7456-3146-0 .
- John Keane: The Life and Death of Democracy, London [u. a.] 2009.
- Maria Kreiner: Democracy as an Idea. An introduction (= UTB . Volume 3883 ). UVK / UTB, Konstanz / Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-8252-3883-4 (textbook that explains the idea of democracy from the philosophy of antiquity to the modern age using original texts from twelve prominent thinkers from the history of ideas.).
- Karl Mittermaier, Meinhard Mair: Democracy. The story of a political idea from Plato to the present day . WBG, Darmstadt 2013, ISBN 978-3-534-80181-7 .
- Paul Nolte : What is Democracy? Past and present (= Beck series . Volume 6028 ). CH Beck, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-406-63028-6 .
- Hedwig Richter : Modern Elections. A history of democracy in Prussia and the USA in the 19th century. Hamburger Edition, Hamburg 2017, ISBN 978-3-86854-313-1 .
- Hans Vorländer : Democracy. History, forms, theories (= Beck series . Volume 2311 ). 2nd Edition. CH Beck, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-406-48011-9 (brief introduction to the subject).
History of Greek Democracy
- Jochen Bleicken : The Athenian Democracy (= UTB . Volume 1330 ). 4th edition. Schöningh, Paderborn 1995, ISBN 3-8252-1330-7 (standard work on Athenian democracy.).
- Harald Haarmann : The Myth of Democracy: Ancient models of rule in the area of tension between the principle of equality and the principle of elite. Peter-Lang-Ed., Frankfurt am Main 2013, ISBN 978-3-631-62599-6 .
- Konrad H. Kinzl (Ed.): Demokratie. The way to democracy among the Greeks. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1995, ISBN 3-534-09216-3 .
- Christian Meier : The emergence of the political among the Greeks. Frankfurt am Main 1980. (Basic description of the development of political ideas in the 6th and 5th centuries BC)
Comparison of democracy theories
- Oliver wing, Reinhard Heil, Andreas Hetzel: The return of the political. Democracy Theories Today. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2004, ISBN 3-534-17435-6 . (Reading sample)
- Richard Saage: Democracy Theories . Historical process - theoretical development - socio-technical conditions. An introduction. With an introductory essay by Walter Euchner : On the necessity of a history of ideas in democracy. Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 3-531-14722-6 .
- Giovanni Sartori : Democracy Theory. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, ISBN 3-534-11493-0 .
- Manfred G. Schmidt : Democracy Theories. An introduction. Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2008, ISBN 978-3-531-16054-2 .
Currently discussed work and topics
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- Zippelius: History of State Ideas, chap. 3 a, 4 d.
- Zippelius: History of State Ideas, chap. 14th
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