DEMOCRACY<br>BUILDING Democracy Building

Home  Basics
Definition of Democracy Public Affairs  Structures
Systems of Democracy Political Parties Voting Systems Federalism and Multilinguism Direct Democracy  History
Swiss Revolution Switzerland's Federal Constitution (1848)  Links
Building Democracy Civic Education Human Rights About Switzerland

Democracy Building


Early U.S. president Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) defined democracy as being:

«Government of the people, by the people, for the people»

If this is taken seriously, democracy must be by far the most challenging form of government - both for the politicians and for the people. Over and over again, history has shown that the process of building democracy is a very complicated one. Though it's sometimes not so easy as it may seem to register voters correctly and print voting-papers, this is not enough for establishing a democracy. What is much more important and constitutes the real challenge of building democracy:

Both politicians and ordinary citizens have to
learn and accept the rules of democratic governance
and develop trust in democracy.

To express it in business language: Democracy is a "win-win model" for all groups of society. But as in any business, a win-win situation does only work, if both sides are respecting the terms of the agreement. If anybody is trying to cheat, it won't work and both sides will lose. This is true for a "social contract" as for any business contract.

As powerful people tend to overestimate their strength, they might think they can override this basic social rule. Therefore the change from a traditional society to a democratic civil society was not easy for most of the European nations and it took several revolutions and civil wars and almost one century before it was accomplished.

While in business life it may sometimes even be possible to risk the termination of all relations to a business partner, play some dirty tricks and go away with the profit, politics is definitely different: there is no escape for social groups in a given country, they have to deal with each other forever and not even the most disastrous perspective - a revolution or civil war - can change this fundamental aspect of political life.

Therefore it does not really matter whether one thinks of human beings as basically selfish egoists or as altruistic angels. Introducing democracy and establishing democratic rules and political procedures is not a question of moral choice, but rather of accepting the unchangeable basic aspects of human society. Democracy is not necessarily better than any other form of government - it just works better. So there is no real alternative to democracy on this world, or as the former British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) has put it:

«No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government - except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.»

Disclaimer
Privacy Policy
DEMOCRACY-BUILDING.INFO © Copyright 2004-2010 All Rights Reserved
         
Editor