MODELS OF DEMOCRACY

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Democracy is a form of society or government in which all the people are vested with supreme power to ensure their freedom and are involved in making decisions about their nation’s affairs, through voting to determine their representatives in a parliament or an assembly using a free electoral system.

There are several distinct theories of democracy that were identified by William Hudson in order to provide context to democracy. These theories include: protective democracy, participatory, developmental democracy and pluralist democracy.

Protective model of democracy is based on liberalism and exists so that different individuals can have maximum freedom to pursue finances and wealth. It involves a system whereby the citizen’s liberties and money are protected by their government. The government is thus focused in protecting the material that belongs to its citizens and ensuring that a free market is maintained. The disparity between the poor and the rich is acknowledged in the protective democracy and assumes that power will be in the hands of the elite.

Developmental model of democracy on the other hand consists of citizens being involved in civic issues and is focused on what is right or moral for the general society. The people acquire knowledge and understanding by being involved in the government of what is required to develop services. Though the citizens are not the main decision makers they get a better appreciation of the public good by voting in order to sound their views and opinions. This element is what most distinguishes Developmental model from Hudson’s other models. It believes that the society is responsible for oversight and selection of their work but acknowledges the need for elected officials.

Pluralist model of democracy is oligarchic and it connects democracy to power held by special interests due to the high priority on material wealth. It features completion among various interests in a society where diversity is the norm. Hudson’s model of pluralism, however, emphasizes its tendency to evolve into a hierarchical order dominated by economic elites. This tendency occurs naturally in a society where individuals are free to form associations or interest groups, because the success of organisations depends on group cohesion, common purpose and strong leadership. In pluralist theory it is believed that the citizen interested engage in small groups and the majority are not interested in becoming involved.

Participatory model of democracy is the straightest forward of all the models and it focuses on retooling the government to encourage more citizen involvement. The participatory theory could work better in a small community of few citizens and is based on the conviction that apathy is a conditioned response, not a trait inheriting human nature. Deprived of opportunities to participate in meaningful ways, people will naturally tune out or get turned off. The key to a vibrant citizenry and therefore to a healthy democracy is active participation on a large scale across a wide spectrum of issues. Participatory theory argues that citizens have a right to participate in politics. The main idea of this theory is to provide more involvement and control over all governmental laws and non-governmental rules pertaining to citizens.

In conclusion the Hudson’s models don’t represent actual democracies and are just models. The Hudson’s models are just models. They do not represent actual democracies, nor are they the best way to characterize or categorize different types of democracy. But they do point to basic political questions that confront all contemporary democracies.

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