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Interacting in a Democracy Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Jide Keye, Nigeria Aug 27, 2003
Human Rights   Opinions


From Aristotle, Hobbes, Hamilton, Madison and Jay down to Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Mandela search for democracy either by individuals, philosophers, activists, academicians, or democratic institutions has been endless. Nations today operate under different methods, from British parliamentary to American Presidential system, Moroccan monarchy, and other approaches to the issue of democratic governance. More than the “Government of the people by the people and for the people,” the challenge to project a universally acceptable model also remains the burden of many schools of thought.

The whole idea of democracy presupposes the right an individual of society to freely interact and relate with other members the society. Interactions in a democracy may take the form of interaction with others to form a body and seek to transform such ideals to public policies (i.e. formation of political parties) or to influence public policies (formation of pressure groups), interaction with others with others to hold religious belief, interaction with others to have a preference for a particular political parties (freedom of political choice) etc.

For a country to qualify to be described as democratic, four important elements are generally agreed must be present in such polity. First is the organisation of free and fair periodic elections in which all parties/candidates enjoys relatively equal access to the rules. Second is the existence of plural civic and political culture i.e. competitive plural political parties without anyone party enjoying an overwhelming contrived majority in the legislative organ and civic or community organisations that enjoy a certain degree of economy. Third is the separation of state from the ruling political parties and fourth is the constitutional guarantee of basic human and political rights.

A country is described as being democratic when political powers flow from people through the process of popular participation. Democracy is being concerned with people’s rule or popular control or management of power in public sphere.

Citizenry must ask for and demand accountability from those in public offices through the conscious and concentrated efforts of civil society groups, the opposition political parties, and society at large. This becomes more important in view of the widespread poverty, ignorance and the prevalence of primordial ethnic, religious and sectional sentiments that are mitigating against the development of a virile and critical civil society capable of demanding accountability from elected public officials in modern nation states.

My experience as a student, pro-democracy and political activist places me at a vantage position to contribute towards the realisation of a conscious a civil society project which the Democracy and Governance Projects entails.

It is imperative therefore that any society where youths are to be engaged in the task of affecting changes in a democracy must, as of necessity, ensure the emergence of democratic institutions to guarantee these basic presuppositions.

Youths participation could be encourage through their involvement in civil society groups, volunteer actions, ideological debates, workshops including free political affiliations, or other democratic institutions.



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