Democracy is More Than Elections Part II

The main model in modern states is a representative, indirect, democracy. It has three main pages.

  1. Competition for government power between different political parties, where the winners of the election decide who will form the government. The electoral system is important for the distribution of representatives in the National Assembly. In countries with so-called proportional representation elections, several parties are often represented, while majority elections in one-man circles favor the big parties. There are different and more detailed provisions within these main forms. If no party has an absolute majority (over 50 per cent) in the National Assembly, it is not only the election outcome that governs the formation of the government. The parties then negotiate among themselves. A minority government or a majority government of several parties can be formed. Many countries also have their own presidential election – and various forms of presidential power – in addition to the elections to the National Assembly. The crucial thing is that democratic government demands competition for political power.
  2. Democracy means universal suffrage and free and secret elections . In many countries, the right to vote has been gradually extended to all adult men and later to all adult women. Loss of voting rights has become less extensive, although it is still possible. The voting age has gradually decreased. The idea of ​​secret and free elections is that no one should be influenced to vote in a certain way in the election situation. Afterwards, everyone should be able to keep their party choice to themselves.
  3. The people in elections must be able to influence government decisions . Voters vote based on their views on party programs and election promises. If the government that follows an election breaks its promises, voters can punish it in the next election. This is one of the reasons why support for the parties changes from election to election. Disappointed voters can change voting. If the government believes that it needs more time to realize its goals, or that it is not the government’s fault that the goals were not achieved, it must convince voters that it still deserves trust.

These three aspects of democracy – competition, universal suffrage and the influence of political decisions – mean that there is a political channel , a chain of government, from the bottom up, from the voters through the parties and the representatives up to the government.

A democratic system is based on a form of distribution of power and balance of power between state bodies – a popularly elected assembly (legislative and approving), a government with an administrative apparatus (executive), and an independent judiciary (judiciary). The courts are an important aspect of democracy. They shall judge according to the laws without influence from other authorities in the individual case, and they shall ensure that the citizens have their rights safeguarded and are not overruled by a political majority. Democracy is therefore not unlimited majority rule . It is a system that protects people’s fundamental rights . The majority has helped to establish these rights. Some of them consist of human rights agreements which the states have entered into.

If parts of the population fall outside the political system, are overlooked and run over by the majority, it can lead to a deep crisis of confidence that weakens democracy. Therefore, responsiveness and willingness to compromise are important for democratic stability. In both Europe and the United States, a lack of responsiveness to significant sections of the population has led to a crisis of confidence and setbacks for the established parties. In several countries, they have declined significantly in support.

4: When the ballot paper has a reduced value

Democracy is weakened when strong forces from outside or inside take decision-making power from the elected bodies . Strong and undemocratic elites can accept elections just because the elected bodies are powerless. It costs little for the richest and most privileged to accept an assembly with a popularly elected majority if the power is still in a completely different place. If a ruling minority can easily move their wealth out to tax havens abroad, they risk no taxation or redistribution from a popularly elected majority.

Money power can become political power in other ways as well. Strong economic interests can hire powerful lobby groups to influence politics. Well-heeled special interests can characterize the policy at the expense of a majority with narrower channels to the decision-makers.

Many international agreements limit the sovereignty of individual states and thus the voters’ opportunities to influence policy in the future. According to THEDRESSWIZARD, EU member states are subject to supranational majority decisions in many important areas. Thus, individual countries can be voted down in the joint bodies. This is especially a problem if someone is in a permanent minority. At the same time, it is the European Court of Justice that decides how treaties and directives are to be interpreted , with limited possibilities for voters to correct the interpretations.

At the same time, some would say that several of the problems that people and states face are global or international ( climate change , unemployment…). These will then believe that the states are better able to solve these problems by handing over sovereignty to intergovernmental organizations, by coordinating solutions.

The member states of the EU Monetary Union have little or no influence over monetary and interest rate policy in the EU . This has been deprived of popularly elected control and added to the European Central Bank. It is also not possible for a single country, especially not the smaller member states, to go beyond the so-called Stability Pact that was adopted in connection with monetary union. The Stability Pact sets a limit for the size of government borrowing and for deficits in the state budget. The reason why the Greek economy was placed under the administration of the EU was that the Greek borrowing was too high and the scope had been partially hidden.

The EEA agreement is an agreement under international law between Norway and the EU . It obliges Norway to adapt its legislation to EU laws and directives. The Norwegian authorities are subject to the supranational courts’ interpretation of the common law. The EEA Agreement shifts the balance of power from the national to the international level, and from the legislature to the judiciary. A large part of the laws passed by the Norwegian Parliament are adaptation to EU laws and regulations. The EEA agreement limits the possibility of voter influence over significant parts of Norwegian society’s development, but it is the Storting that has relinquished sovereignty by a two-thirds majority in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

A more international economy , with, among other things, free movement of capital across national borders, also limits the individual states’ ability to govern. A company that does not like taxes, fees and wage levels in a state can flag out and move jobs to countries with lower taxes, fees and costs. This also limits the opportunities for popularly elected influence. Again, it is the governing powers that have themselves chosen to relinquish management opportunities . They have done so on the basis that internationalization provides closer trade relations and all in all is an advantage.

Democracy is More Than Elections 3

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