Democracy is a form of government where the power lies with the people (being governed). The term comes from the Greek word ‘demos’ meaning people and ‘kratos’ meaning power. The underlying principle behind democracy is freedom and equality for all its constituents. Democracy acknowledges the decision of the majority, and in a democracy, all constituents have an equal vote, regardless of stature.
The principle of democracy is usually classified in two, direct democracy and representative democracy. It is said that there is no true direct (or pure) democracy wherein power is shared by every citizen. Most democratic countries have a representative democracy, wherein officials are elected into positions of power by the people.
When officials are elected into public office, they are expected to be accountable to the populace who elected them. The people are free to express their thoughts on how the governance is, without fear of recrimination or prosecution, and the elected officials can be reelected or removed by mandate of the people after a prescribed period of time through an election.
Although the power in a democracy is held by the people, democracy is not a rule of individuals but a rule of laws. These laws serve to protect the citizens, limit the power of the government, protect hum rights, and maintain social order. Ideally, every citizen is protected by it, and at the same time no citizen is above it.
Currently, almost half of the world’s nations are governed using the principles of democracy, but this does not make them all fully democratic nations. Some countries that are examples of democracy are: United Kingdom, United States of America, France, Australia, and the Philippines.