Is Democracy Dead or Evolved?

“We the people are the rightful masters of both congress and the courts, not to overthrow the constitution but to overthrow the men who prevent the constitution”

-Abraham Lincoln-

The word democracy literally means the rule of the people. The concept of democracy was first used in the Athenian system of things in ancient Greece. The word demokratia, which is a combination of the Latin words demos and kratos, means people's rule. During that time the concept of direct democracy was established and the male citizens of the city came together and took decisions to govern. But later this democracy evolved and the meaning of the concept of democracy evolved and became the pinnacle of defending the freedom and rights of the people. Therefore, the concept of modern democracy developed differently from early democracy. It further nurtured the concepts of collectivity and equality.

The Development of Representative Democracy

With the growth of the population and the enlargement of the territories of the kingdoms, the problems of the implementation of direct democracy arose as a result of man's entry into a busy lifestyle. As a result, representative democracy developed. What happens here is that a person represents an entire community and is chosen to represent them on their behalf. Representative democracy is described below in Nadia Urbinati's article "Representative democracy and its critics".

“The term ‘representative democracy’ conveys the complexity, richness and uniqueness of the political order of the moderns, an original synthesis of two distinct and in certain respects alternative political traditions.”

With the evolution of that concept came the formation of governments with the formation of the nation-state, and representative democracy was used in the implementation of the electoral system to elect representatives to represent those governments. The Constitution of Sri Lanka also contains these views on representative democracy, as stated in the preamble to the Constitution of Sri Lanka: "We, the freely elected representatives of the people of Sri Lanka, humbly acknowledge our commitment to the people ...." In India, too, the process of electing representatives to the Indian Parliament every five years is through this. Such elected leaders or representatives are expected to represent the interests of the people to whom they are appointed and to be involved in the policy making process of the state and to represent the voice of the people in their best interests. That is, democracy must be established in the state and the government must be accountable to the people of the country. At the same time, the protection of the civil and political rights of the people must take place in a democratic manner.

Why is democracy important to society?

“Democracy arises out of the notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects; because men are equally free, they claim to be absolutely equal.”


To find the right answer to the question of why democracy is necessary for the existence of a society, one must assume the functioning of a society devoid of democracy. That is, according to Thomas Hobbes, who discusses the transition from a cruel, vile and evil social order to social compromise, a society without democracy is like a society before the state. Therefore, democracy must be fundamental to the well-being of a society.

“For, if liberty and equality, as some persons suppose, are chiefly to be found in a democracy, it must be so by every department of government being alike open to all; but as the people are in the majority, and what they vote is law, it follows that such a state is a democracy."


I.Protecting the interest of the people. Democracy involves the ideas and opinions of the people. It is the opinion of the same people that is expressed through the electoral system. That is, if democracy is nothing but the people, then there can be no reality in society without a system of government for the people.

II.Promoting equality. Democracy gives the people an opportunity to exercise their voting right in a fair and free election and thereby promote equality. Representative democracy, for example, provides for the exercise of the right to vote without distinction of race, religion, or creed. Recognizes the right of every citizen to participate in governance under Article 21 of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

III.Ability to prevent abuse of power. An authority is usually elected by the use of voting power. Therefore, if that person abuses his authority in some way, it provides a basis for the proper use of power as he has the power not to elect that person in the next election.

IV.For the survival of human development: Democracy is the background to the enactment of many factors, such as fundamental rights, freedoms, health, education, etc., which are measured when it comes to human development, as opposed to the physical development indicators of the past.

V.Modern democratic governments have sought to distance themselves from war with each other. Democracy has given us the opportunity to move our world, which has suffered two major world wars against the good of the community, to a more prosperous path. As a logical concept, they have sought to enforce democracy through their own constitution and to enforce it for other governing norms.

In addition to the above, there are many other issues that will be discussed later with practical examples.

How can there be a society without democracy?

With the development of democracy, various sections of the world emerged as democratic governments, democratic regimes, democratic political parties, etc. That is, there is a possibility of creating a brutal dictatorship instead of a system of government that looks at the people from the point of view of the people and becomes a block to the positive path that the world has traveled so far. As in Hitler's Nazi regime, the rule of the ruler is paramount, and the basis for moving away from democracy is the creation of a more powerful dictator. It becomes the end of human freedom.

This removes the opportunity for the people to get involved in the system of governance of the country and will not allow the people to enforce it, even if it is a right in some way. For example, in the absence of democracy, the representatives of the people do not represent the people and laws and regulations are created without the aspirations and aspirations of the people. Such a law appears to be extremely unfair and raises questions about the obedience of the people. For example, even in modern times, people have even tried to act anti-government against unjust laws.

In a democratic state, there is an independent judiciary that can question the violation of human rights by any executive or administrative body. But with the demise of democracy, the independence of the judiciary will be lost and man will not be able to reach justice. Now is the time to take action against a particular ruler, even if he has done something that the world recognizes should not be done. It is clear that the importance of this has been recognized internationally through decisions such as the Judgment on the arrest of General Pinochet. That is, democracy is the main tool for the exercise of the rule of law. It can be argued that in the absence of democracy, the rule of law does not exist.

Democracy is revered by all the leaders who have ruled the world in the history of the world and who are still highly regarded today. Take, for example, Abraham Lincoln, a former president of the United States. Such a regime enjoyed the obedience and respect of man alike, and the people unhesitatingly came forward to relinquish their sovereignty over the rule of the state. But there are many instances in world history where rulers who are not like that have been rejected by the people. That is, the people want democratic rule.

Taken as a whole, it is not a single area that is affected in a society devoid of democracy. That is, society is declining socially, economically, culturally, environmentally and legally.

Is democracy a death knell under the modern approach? Or growth?

"No one pretends that democracy is perfect or omniscient. In fact, democracy is said to be the worst form of government, except for all other forms that have been tried from time to time."

-Winston Churchill –

There are two views on democracy, and in some cases it is argued that this is a mere concept and not a democracy in practice. The first criticism of neo-democracy is its use as a tool to justify the actions of the ruler. The ruler in particular is empowered to act on behalf of man. But nowadays the ruler often takes the power of the people but does not represent the people. Some kind of decisions are made and they are sometimes more unfavorable to the people. But he tries to justify the decisions taken by a democratically elected ruler by saying that they are democratic. An example is the allocation of funds for development activities in a state. Money is allocated for physical development on various grounds, but there are no instances where it has worked for the good of man. Developing countries have long had to fall into the debt trap of this process and fall into the category of being a developing country.

Democracy is now misinterpreted as the rule of the majority and minorities are being ignored. Leaders who win the will of the majority of the people through democratic elections become the representatives of the people, while the minority represents the least. Since it is not possible to form a government alone under the multi-party system, the leaders of those parties have to submit to the big parties as the smaller political parties representing the minority also join the big parties. Therefore, true democracy is questionable.

The concept of democracy has also created political instability in the country. For example, when a party in power feels that it is not democratic, the people will reject it at the next election and sometimes engage in anti-government activities even before the election. But the counter-argument to this is that under democracy, the people have the power to elect the ruler, so the opportunity arises to end the rule of corrupt rulers. But it is questionable how people-friendly the system of government that will eventually re-elect the people is. This has created a complex political environment. The political culture of South Asian countries is an example of this.

“Democracy recognized the right to change as well as the duty to resolve differences peacefully. Profitable governments see criticism of their actions and principles as a challenge to fight.”

-Aung San Suu Kyi-

Under modern democracy, the ruler always seeks to take advantage of the voter's ignorance and seize power. Then it is questionable whether the ruler will be elected on the basis of true democracy. This is due to the lack of existing knowledge of political literacy. In rural areas, this is at very low ebb and can be seen as an obstacle to a prosperous election. Accordingly, it is questionable whether true democracy emerges from such elections or whether there is a risk that democracy will be undermined by money.

It is questionable whether public opinion is always represented in Parliament through representative democracy. Under modern politics, when a bill is passed in Parliament, each representative acts to promote or confirm the opinion of his or her political party, rather than arguing for the benefit of his or her people. Sometimes people abstain from voting for more favorable occasions and sometimes the vote is used in a way that is not suitable for the people. Therefore, it is questionable whether the Member of Parliament who represents the respective population and territory in Parliament is abusing those people. This raises the question of what we should consider as the intent of Parliament, especially in the law of constitutional interpretation.

But there are also modern developments in democracy. That is, this concept cannot be defined on the basis of one end only. To some extent this is also a reason why it is a legal as well as a moral aspect associated with the special circumstances of people's lives.

“..The basis of democracy is tolerance to criticism. If you can’t face criticism, if you can’t accept it, you can’t guard democracy. You are not eligible for it.”

-Narendra Modi-

International intervention in democracy is at a high level, especially as states coexist socially beyond geographical distance with globalization. The United Nations has declared September 15 as World Democracy Day. As stated by the Sri Lankan United Nations resident coordinator, "Democracy is also a fundamental building block for advancing peace, human rights and development. It rests on foundations that are built over time, such as; strong institutions, responsible and accountable government, a free and responsible press, the rule of law and equal rights for all men and women. "

That is, the legacies of democracy are not one but several. Every state is endowed with a constitutional system consisting of the people, consisting of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, instead of a monopoly constitution. Instead of giving representation to a section of the society, all the members of the society were given the opportunity to participate in the administration without any discrimination and that right has been affirmed even as a fundamental right under the modern constitution. Internationally, the United Nations has been instrumental in shaping the democratic background of every state, both nationally and multi nationally. Democracy has helped governments to access not only human political rights but also democratic and socialist systems, including the basic elements of living.

“Two cheers for democracy: One because it admits variety and two because it permits criticism”

-EM Forster-

From the above it is clear that the concept of democracy is a great concept for the betterment of the people. But whether it seeks to overthrow democracy or promote modern democracy depends on the state in which the concept is applied. If a state uses democracy for the benefit of the people, then the people attribute divinity not only to democracy but also to that regime. If not, it will be the end not only of democracy but also of the freedom of the people.

Authored By

Sujan De Silva

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