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Report on Conceptual Framework of Democracy

The term ‘democracy’ is derived from the Greek words, demos and Kratos which means the people and power respectively. Democracy thus means power of the people. It is now regarded as a form of government in which the people rule themselves either directly or indirectly through their representatives. Definition of democracy, as a form of government, are various, But like many other definitions in political science, they differ in their content and application. Democracy, according to the Greeks, is the Government in which people rule over themselves. Aristotle considered it as a perverted form of government. Herodotus says, the democracy denotes that form of government in which in the ruling power of the state is largely vested in the members of the community as a whole.In the words of President Abraham Lincoln, it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. According to Bryce, “Democracy is that form of government in which the ruling power of a state is legally vested, not in any particular class or classes but in the members of the community as a whole”[1] According to Dicey, “Democracy is a form of government in which the governing body is a comparatively large function of the entire nation”[2]. Anthony M. Birch says- “Democracy means a system of representative government in which the representatives are chosen by free competitive election and adult citizens are entitled to vote”[3] Seymour M, Lipset remarks-“Democracy implies a political system which provides a regular constitutional opportunities for changing government officials, permit the largest possible part of population to influence decisions through their ability to chose among alternative contender for political office”[4] In brief, we can say that democracy is that form of government in which the sovereign power of the state is in the hands of the people and people are the source of the state power and the people take part in the government directly or through their representatives. In other words, we can say that democracy is the government of the majority and the majority safeguards the interests of the people. In this form of government, the interests of minorities are not ignored. There are two types or forms of democracy: (a) Pure or Direct, and (b) Indirect or Representative. When the people themselves directly express their will on public affairs, the type of government is called pure or direct democracy. In this type of democracy, the mass people directly formulate laws in a mass meeting and the community as a whole, directly or immediately, without agents or representatives, performs the functions of sovereignty. Direct democracy was established in ancient Greek city-states. Today when large and complex societies have emerged and when area of the State is very extensive, direct democracy is impracticable. This system now prevails only four cantons of Switzerland. They are Appenzell, Unterwalden and Glarus. Indirect Democracy also termed as representative democracy is such type of government system whereas the will of the state is formulated and expressed not directly by the people themselves, but by their representatives to whom they delegate the power of deliberation and decision-making. John Stuart Mill has said in this regard the “Indirect or representative democracy is one in which the whole people or some numerous portion of them exercise the governing power through deputies periodically elected by themselves.”[5] Today this system is seen in many countries like Japan, Sri Lanka, India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America, West Germany, Italy, France and many other countries.

[1] Bryce, Lord, Modern Democracies, London, Vol. 1, 1929, p.20
[2] Dicey, A.V. Parliamentary Government in England, London, 1962
[3] Birch, H. Anthony,The Concepts and Theories of Modern Democracies, London, 1996, p. 46
[4] Lipset, S.M “Some Social Pre-Requisites of Democracy”. American Political Science Review, No. 153, 1959, p. 71
[5] Mill, J.S. Representative Government, 1952, p. 364