The characteristics of a legitimate democracy

In any system which claims to be democratic, a question of its legitimacy remains. A truly democratic political system has certain characteristics which prove its legitimacy with their existence. One essential characteristic of a legitimate democracy is that it allows people to freely make choices without government intervention. Another necessary characteristic which legitimates government is that every vote must count equally:

The characteristics of a legitimate democracy

Bring fact-checked results to the top of your browser search. From these and other premises Locke draws the conclusion that political society—i. For Locke they are inextricably connected: But such a consent is next to impossible ever to be had.

The legitimacy of government

Writing in England in the s, a generation after the Commonwealth ended with the restoration of the monarchyLocke was more circumspect than this. Nevertheless, a careful reading of the relevant passages of the Second Treatise shows that Locke remains true to his fundamental principle, that the only legitimate form of government is that based on the consent of the governed.

Locke differentiates the various forms of government on the basis of where the people choose to place the power to make laws. His categories are the traditional ones: Or else into the hands of one Man, and then it is a Monarchy.

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For whatever the form of government, the ultimate source of sovereign power is the people, and all legitimate government must rest on their consent. And who is to judge whether the government has abused its trust? Again, Locke is unequivocal: Although he does not use the term, Locke thus unambiguously affirms the right of revolution against a despotic government.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Regarding question 1—What is the appropriate association within which a democratic government should be established? Here again, Locke was at the forefront of the development of democratic ideas.

Unlike the men of Athens or the small male aristocracy of Veniceobviously the men of England could not govern directly in an assembly. In this case, then, the answer to question 3—What political institutions are necessary for governing?

This is perhaps because he, like his contemporary readers, assumed that democracy and majority rule would be best implemented in England through parliamentary elections based on an adult-male franchise.

Montesquieu The French political theorist Montesquieuthrough his masterpiece The Spirit of the Lawsstrongly influenced his younger contemporary Rousseau see below Rousseau and many of the American Founding Fathersincluding John AdamsJefferson, and Madison.

Although public virtue may not be necessary in a monarchy and is certainly absent in despotic regimes, it must be present to some degree in aristocratic republics and to a large degree in democratic republics.

The characteristics of a legitimate democracy

For it was from Hume that Madison seems to have acquired a view about factions that turned the issue of the desirability of larger political associations—i. For the purpose of diminishing the destructive potential of factionalism, so Hume and Madison argued, bigger is in fact better, because in bigger associations each representative must look after a greater diversity of interests.

Indeed, in his most influential work of political philosophy, The Social ContractRousseau asserts that democracy is incompatible with representative institutions, a position that renders it all but irrelevant to nation-states see state.

The sovereignty of the people, he argues, can be neither alienated nor represented. Furthermore, according to Rousseau, if a political association that is small enough to practice direct democracy, such as a city-state, were to come into existence, it would inevitably be subjugated by larger nation-states and thereby cease to be democratic.

For these and other reasons, Rousseau was pessimistic about the prospects of democracy. So perfect a government is not for men.

Some years later, in a discussion of how the people of Poland might govern themselves, he allowed that there is simply no alternative to government by representation.THE RULE OF LAW AND THE LEGITIMACY OF CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY BY MICHEL ROSENFELD* The three essential characteristics of modern constitutionalism are limiting fulfill, to legitimate constitutional democracy in a pluralistic society.

Answers to fundamental questions

I will. A truly democratic political system has certain characteristics which prove its legitimacy with their existence. One essential characteristic of a legitimate democracy is that it allows people to freely make choices without government intervention.

Another necessary characteristic which legitimates government is that every vote must count. 4 Characteristics of a True Democracy The word "democracy" is Greek in origin and literally translated means "power to the people." Under a democratic form of government, which is based on the principle of "rule by law," people have the power to enact laws and decide how they will be enforced.

A truly democratic political system has certain characteristics which prove its legitimacy with their existence. One essential characteristic of a legitimate democracy is that it allows people to freely make choices without government intervention.

Another necessary characteristic which legitimates government is that every vote must count. Democracy is an ideal many people have struggled for. language: What we understand by democracy is not what an Athenian in the time of Pericles would the characteristics of a legitimate democracy have understand by democracy is not what an Athenian in the time of.

Democracy, derived from the Greek term "demos" or "people," is a system of government that gives power to the people. Democracy can .

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