Democracy is a form of government in which power is held by people under a free electoral system. To date, democracy is thought to be the most successful form of government and, interestingly, some big powers like the US and the European Union wish to see all the countries, no matter whatsoever their form of government has been through out their history, adopting democracy as their political system of government.
There are several varieties of democracy, some of which provide better representation and more freedom for their citizens than others. However, if any democracy is not carefully legislated to avoid an uneven distribution of political power with balances, such as the separation of powers, then a branch of the system of rule is able to accumulate power in a way that is harmful to democracy itself. The “majority rule” is often described as a characteristic feature of democracy, but without a responsible government, it is possible for the rights of a minority to be abused by the “tyranny of the majority”. An essential process in representative democracies are competitive elections that are fair both, substantively and procedurally.
Furthermore, freedom of political expression, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press are essential so that citizens are informed and able to vote in their personal interests.
Western democracies flourished soon after the industrial revolution, with the UK having the world’s oldest parliamentary system while the US holds the title for being the most democratic state in the world. However, the responsibilities believed to be a part of democratic system, mentioned in paragraph one, are often violated even by the claimers of the largest democracies like India.
The destruction of Babri Mosque and other atrocities, inflicted upon minorities within these large democracies, are open cases of how democracy fails when you don’t have a strong backing in the form of a strong law enforcing agency. However, the discussion here will remain rather restricted to answering the question raised in the title.
The question is pretty clear; one has to figure out as to why democracy has been derailed in Pakistan, time and again, by military rulers? Why couldn’t Afghanistan thrive in democracy after it was declared A REPUBLIC by Dawood Khan after overthrowing the monarch Zahir Shah in 1973? Why people still don’t believe Iran is a democracy as it holds elections for every constituency of its government? Why Bangladesh is facing difficulty in keeping its lingering Democracy? Why can’t Zimbabwe or other African republics go on smoothly with elections? The answer could be a simple one: the form of government that can work effectively in these governments can’t be democracy since it allows even an illiterate tyrant to win merely by popular vote which is quite possible in these parts of the world. Let’s take the example of Afghanistan alone. After the invasion of Afghanistan by US led allied forces in 2001, the nation drafted a constitution which adopts a democratic form of government with parliament as its legislator.
Take a look at the parliament, over 90% are warlords, criminals and Jihadis who turned Kabul into a nightmare of civil war from 1992-1996 that left behind a recorded 65000 civilians killed, more than double of this figure faced atrocities; girls got raped under these very Jihadis who now sit in the parliament and draft laws for a poor country. In addition, Afghanistan has more than 80 registered national political parties, which are mocked at in the international community.
These parliamentarians, like their counterparts in Pakistan, Bangladesh, or any other undeveloped nation, sit in the capital, enjoying the national wealth; getting elected from places where they were never born in; and about which they don’t know even a single word. The question now is how do they get elected? Simply, by hook or by crook, they win. Making promises to the poor and simple villagers they bank votes. Secondly, those who don’t merely accept promises are paid a handsome amount. Finally, those who don’t accept either are forced to vote.
To have a prosperous nation, education is thought to be the backbone of any nation. Unfortunately, these states also lack good higher education institutions. To understand the value of one vote needs a great deal of education. Democracy has flourished and yielded fruits in countries where the literacy rate is over 70%. For poor countries named above, none has over 35% literacy rate.
How could a country have democratically strong institutions where votes are bought and sold? Countries like Bangladesh and Afghanistan are soon to face their elections in 2009. The election campaigns are running at their peak nowadays. In Bangladesh the ex-power robbers are back contesting against each other while in Afghanistan, the old dogs of bloody politics of that nation is also gathering around to bring a unanimous candidate to topple and replace Karzai government.
Democracy works where the common man is given a chance to work freely, to think freely and to express himself freely. In Afghanistan, a journalist was put behind bars merely because he had copied an article on Prophet Muhammad from the internet. Another was jailed because he had made comments on jurisprudence in his school of thought.
Hope these nations wake up soon to discover that democracy really doesn’t work where guns decide. Democracy fails where the rules of the jungle exist. Democracy can’t help people where they only understand the language of force.