Is Democracy the same decision as the
The world is changing at
a rate never seen before, one of many benefactors of this change is politics.
Elections are changing, they are now based around huge rallies to large amounts
of voters. Emmanuel Macron rallied the citizens of France with ‘Ensemble, la
France!’ In the case of Emmanuel Macron, he won with a majority of 65% of the
vote. In America, Donald Trump roused the people with the idea of ‘Making
America Great Again’. His approval rating now is 37.5% according to the website
FiveThirtyEight. This shows that once someone is voted in, they have power, no
wonder what the country thinks. Is this a democracy?
To understand democracy
and majorities, we must know some of the different types. In Switzerland, they
have a direct democracy whereas in most democratic countries there is a
representative democracy or parliamentary democracy. The referendum last year
was an example of direct democracy however in Switzerland every matter
important is voted on by the citizens. Representative and parliamentary
democracies are very similar in the sense that we vote for political parties –
there are only subtle differences between representative and parliamentary.
These votes then represent the majority of the country or the minority. This
works in favour of a minority as in Switzerland the minority have little say in
There is one main type of
majority and that is when there is more than 50% voted for. In the UK
Government, there must 326 seats for a party to control of the government or
there would be a hung parliament. In different parts of the world including
India, they have 4 types of majority Simple, Absolute, Effective and Special. A
special majority is used for instance when a President is being impeached there
must be more than two-thirds of the house voting in favour of impeachment.
‘Democracy is not something that happens … it’s an
ongoing building process.’1
This quotation is from
James Hightower, a political activist and is the first political philosophical
idea that we will look at.
Mugabe was voted in in
1980 as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, following on in 1987 where he became the
President – he lasted until 19th November 2017. As the news website ‘The Hindu’
stated ‘Robert Mugabe: From liberation war hero to much-hated leader’ His power
spiralled down and moved towards tyrant
style dictatorship. Not only the people that forced him out of his post, it was
also his own army that removed him. This is a valid case of how the majority is
not the same as democracy. One person was voted for by a majority and then
removed because the voters had no control of anything because of the tyranny of
While this could be seen
as the fault of a majority. Zimbabwe could reflect a presidential democracy
where the leader has significant power over the government. Robert Mugabe was
voted back as President in July 2013. His career as a high-power politician had
already been going for 33 years, as a president, he was handed tyranny of
majority once again.
The situation with Mugabe
expounds that when you vote, you vote for a party to run the country with the
tyranny of the majority – the power to run the government as they have the
majority. Hightower does not consider this to reflect a true democracy. As you
are not taking part in voting of legislation a key factor to how a country is
run. The citizens voted once four years ago and were left with no control. This
is a majority decision, not a democracy as there is no process after the vote
with the people helping decide.
Is there, in essence, any other type of democracy
rather than a direct democracy?
As mentioned earlier in
the essay there are many types of democracies although are they a true
democracy. The word democracy derives from the Ancient Greek word ‘??????????’
meaning ‘rule of the people’. The concept was originally started in Athens in
506-507 BC. The people would vote on every matter, a referendum on everything –
including executions which to led to some catastrophes. We place our vote into
parties to respect our personal views on the change in a country. On the other
hand, we may not agree with all views of a singular party, we cannot split my
vote in an election. Whereas in a direct democracy we have the power to have
specific views on certain policies. The foundations of democracy lie within the
theory that everyone has a say.
Albeit not everyone in
Greece did vote, women were not allowed. The elites decided who did or didn’t.
In the United Kingdom, women were still not allowed to participate in elections
until November 1918.Those at the top, therefore, controlled the elections.
Ancient Greek philosopher Plato always spoke about how democracy was a failure;
the quotation ‘Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most
aggravated form of tyranny and slavery’ explains that dictatorship is often
caused by the democracy. This is clearly evident throughout history, there will
always be the most subtle types of dictatorship in elections by the people at
the top who run them. This concept of democracy has been fabricated in our
minds therefore easily adapted to the different styles of democracy including
parliamentary, representative or presidential.
In the United Kingdom
during the 2017 election the conservative party lost its majority, near to
being a hung parliament they signed a deal with the DUP which gave them their
majority. Contrary to this, hypothetically say we were Conservative supporters.
We support many of the Conservative policies but not the DUP’s. This includes,
for example, their pro-life views, now the conservatives are working with a
party that does not affiliate with our views. As a citizen, we would not have a
say, as we voted conservatives – a clear flaw in representative or
parliamentary democracies. I spoke about how there may have never been a
democracy but the fundamentals are still, that everybody has a say. Theresa May
did not ask the supporters about what they thought, giving them no say. If we
refer back to Hightower, there was no process after the vote in the election so
his belief is that it isn’t a democracy but only a majority decision.
Are majority decisions merging with democracy?
Obama was recently at the
Economic Club of Chicago and stated ‘Protect Democracy or Risk of following path of Nazi Germany’. Democracy has been reshaped over the years,
lies are often spread by the elite, and there is no longer a fair vote.
Simultaneously the votes are sunk with corruption. This path was seen in Nazi
Germany, with Hitler riddling the people with lies. We see this in the world
today, elections and votes are corrupted by elites to make a change in their
own favour. Lies are placed to the citizens. Majorities are now voting on on
lies and are in return are handed huge amounts of power over important matters.
In the election in the United States, Donald Trump promised many changes to his
supporters including repealing Obama Care, reforming taxes and creating a
‘great wall’ along the South Border. Donald Trump won a majority in the
Electoral College leading him to the White House. This power Donald Trump was
given was voted on by the voters who voted for him, surely this a branch of democracy. Citizens voted on his ‘big’ promises – he is now in the process of completing them. It is known as a presidential democracy but matters were
voted on in the election and now they are in the process of being put into place.
This was a decision by the majority.
The majority in the
electoral college was not the majority of the popular vote. This raises a whole
other debate of whether the US election
should be held as a popular vote or electoral college vote. Hilary Clinton won
the latter. This is yet another example
of how democracy has been changed, the people voted but they did not get the
result they wanted. I am not stating that Clinton should have won as
elections are very strategic and often the ‘game’ includes going to states that
have the highest electoral college points. Nevertheless,
I am stating that majorities can
determine events in a country and can cause a
process of events. Majorities are now merging with democracies.
Brexit could be argued
either way. One side could be that we
voted to leave the European Union and this is
legally binding. This is a process
put in place, also known as Article 50, by the majority that won the
referendum. Another way of looking at the situation is that there are many
aspects of the Brexit situation that the public has
no say in. Many voters ‘Bregret’ their
decision and can no longer do anything about it. In a direct democracy, the
final deal would almost certainly be voted on by the citizens.
Is Democracy the same decision as the Majority?
Majorities are no pulling the ropes of the way the world is
moving economically and politically. Democracy
has not always been the same’ the foundations were laid in Ancient Greece. The idea of people in a community stepping forward and voting on what they believed in – rather than them being dictated
over and told how they should live their lives. This was revolutionary and it is at the heart of the infrastructure
of political systems across the world today. We vote in elections on ideas and
principles and hand power over to those with a majority. To conclude,
conceptually democracy is based upon majority decisions but then again in practice,
a majority decision has no power over a democratic situation in a government,
they tick a ballot box but do not negotiate on the terms deals or policies.