The Concept of Democracy: Supporting and Opposing Arguments

free essaySchedler states, “The concept of democracy is characterized by a constitutional government, individual rights and liberties, the rule of law, checks and balances, the functional and territorial division of power, representative legislatures, popular elections, civil society, and independent media” (“Authoritarianism’s” 69). These elements of democracy have promoted its popularity in nations of different economic and social standings. Democracy has progressed significantly since its conception in the eighteenth century; however, there is still disapproval over how efficient is the current form of democracy in managing the issues faced by the twenty-first-century societies. Democracy is highly criticized due to an assortment of issues that undermine its significance and divert from its advantages. Schedler declares that as a system of government, it is based on such principles as the rule of law and individual rights to remedy the failures of authoritarian regime, characterized by progressive voting rights, which prompt the fashioning of mass political parties (, “Authoritarianism’s” 69). According to Kurlantzick, current governmental system is characterized by “freedom recession” and an increase in authoritarian revival globally (7).

The existence of alternative and less rigorous types of authoritarian governments could also be the cause of the falling popularity of democracy. In contrast to democratic regimes that suffer from uncertainty, regimes, which find a balance between pure democracy and authoritarianism, reinforce control over the realms. At the same time, they exhibit an impression of democracy to circumvent their techniques being questioned by different stakeholders.

An inadequate nature of some existing democracies also discredits the value of true democracy. These challenges undermine the importance of democracy and present a gap in democratic governance to criticize democracy. Democracy is arguably the most beneficial form of government so far, as it takes into account the interests of various stakeholders; however, there is a need to assess the opposing arguments to maintain the reputation of democracy.

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Opposing Arguments

Among the main issues that undermine the success of democracy is the nature of voters. This system is highly reliant on the voting process, which is characterized by a large proportion of ignorant and irrational voters. Irrational voters undermine the voting process by allowing their votes to be steered by campaigns funded by the upper class who intend to protect their personal interests. Money is believed to be the key driver of elections, as campaigns are expensive. According to Schedler, the concept of protecting self-interests allows officials to deviate from their promises once they are elected; democracy fails to verify the implementation of campaign policies once the officials enter the office (“Menu of Manipulation” 47).

Democracy allows the majority oppress the minority as expressed by the popular phrase “majority wins”; the majority rule interferes with the interests of the minority in democracy. In the early twentieth century, white-majority nations of the United States, Australia, and Canada established democracies that only promoted the interests of the whites; consequently, the non-whites were denied representation despite the fact that these countries were free of the British rule (Mann 38). Thus, in democracy the interests of the whole population are not represented, as the welfare of the minority is ignored. Such form of tyranny might spread to other elements of a society causing the minority to fall behind in all aspects.

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Modifications of the precise form of democracy have also undermined the attainment of free governance. The rise of “defective democracies” such as Russia and the elective authoritarian governments as substitutes for democracy have weakened the spread and advancement of free governance. According to Kurlantzick, “The key components of a functioning democracy, such as political participation and civil liberties, have suffered qualitative erosion” (8). Even though some of the nations regarded as democracies exhibit elements of free governance, the quality of national management is low due to the variations, which diminish the nature of democratic governance. Young democracies, such as Indonesia have developed a critical defect in their governance, which is characterized by corruption.

Democracy presents a hindrance to economic growth because it reduces investments due to increased consumption, which hampers national development. Even though there is no empirical evidence to back this, some dictatorships have experienced economic progress and some poor democracies have suffered from low economic growth. Przeworski claims, “Poor people have a high propensity to consume…this is why democracy may be compatible with growth at high but not at low levels of income” (14). The statement suggests that the reason of economic recessions in poor countries is a result of implemented democratic governance. A freer government is obliged to bend to the needs of the citizens and, in developing countries, the fulfilment of fundamental needs of consumption happens at the expense of investments and consequently growth.

Supporting Arguments

Democracy is an essential block in building the sovereignty of a country; the elected representatives are responsible for decision-making, while the law limits external interference in important matters of the state (Schedler “Authoritarianism’s” 73). China and Russia have illustrated their aspiration to hinder the spread of democracy within the neighboring countries. For example, economic and political assistance that China offered to countries like Kyrgyzstan and Cambodia has been influential on their independence, as they have become dependent on China for investment and infrastructure.

Good governance is a key element of democracy; democracy is characterized by accountability, protection of individual rights and interests, and above all the rule of law. The leaders perform their fundamental duties by protecting the rights and upholding the law. The citizens are allowed an opportunity to choose the representatives who represent their interests and even remove them after losing confidence in the elected leaders (Schedler, “Menu of Manipulation” 36).

Democracy promotes economic growth through better allocation of resources. It encourages competition, literacy, global trade, and incentives for investment unlike their authoritarian counterparts who are not motivated to promote the interests of their constituents (Przeworski 14). Moreover, it makes room for global interactions. Mann describes the nature of authoritarianism as repressive of socialism and liberalism that promote internationalism, which is essential for the current trend of globalization (43). Economy in a democratic government is more prone to development if all institutions of democracy work efficiently towards proper governance, transparency and accountability.

Democracy enhances good character. It is characterized by conflict resolution, which is possible since fairness dominates the process and the solutions are mostly nonviolent. Fascism has occurred in countries such as Austria and Hungary, Italy, Romania and Germany. The rise of the Nazis resulted from authoritarian regimes that rejected democracy and federalism, encouraged corruption at national level and experienced moral decline (Mann 43). The use of violent means of conflict resolution due to the possession of paramilitary forces that belonged to the fascists resulted in damaged reputations of the countries in question. Moreover, many people suffered as the authoritarian nature of the government infringed upon their rights (Mann 44). The alternative to democracy, authoritarianism, and fascism was a byproduct of authoritarian governance, which was unconcerned with the interests of the minorities and their views.


Activism, which is inherent in democracy, does not affect the stability or growth of free governed nations but instead protects the interests of the citizens. Przeworski rejects the assumption presented by Alesina and Perotti by stating, “What influences growth is not so much the type of regime (dictatorship or democracy) but regime instability that is the propensity to coups and major changes of government” (18). He clarifies that the effects of political instability due to activism are negligible on the economic performances of democracies but significant on dictatorships. The freedom to launch a demonstration or a strike is inherent in the nature of democracy unlike in a dictatorship, and thus political stability as an element of economic growth directly correlates with democratic governance (Przeworski 18). A study undertaken in 2009 in China suggested that the level of interest of Chinese nation to increase liberal democracy had weakened due to the economic growth experienced in China in that period. This fact illustrates that Chinese possibly accurately believe that reforms will affect economic and even social expansions (Kurlantzick 142). The dread of activism in China, desire to maintain a fragile state of stability and enhance economic growth proves that dictatorships are more affected by political instability than democracies.

Despite the argument that “the majority’s tyranny” over political and social minorities is seen in democracy, it still shows superior results in protecting the rights of the minority in contrast to authoritarianism. According to Mann, “The period around 1938 saw a decrease in the number of liberal democratic states due to regime transition into dictatorships which progressed the objective to maintain the singularity of their nations while at the same time “curtailing minority rights” (38). Such authoritarian governments actively sought to deny the minority their rights to protect their own. In democracies, even though the “majority wins” rule applies, it never intends to deny the minority their rights and freedoms. Even though the democratic process might not sufficiently cater to the needs and interests of the minority, it is seemingly better than authoritarianism in protecting their rights.

Current remedies to deficient democracies include activism, news media, constitutional limits and suffrage. Activists and news media lack sufficient motivation and resources to scrutinize every action of the government. The voters, majority of who are informed, vote based on elements such as party identification and their personal preferences without regards to proposed policies by the officials. The implementation of the constitutions is restrictive as the relevant stakeholders regard only their interests. Despite the value of these elements in fixing characterized democracy, their effectiveness is faulted. Mann argues, “The democratic United States has more infrastructural state power than did the authoritarian Soviet Union. This type of power is power ‘through’ people, not power ‘over’ them” (38).


In conclusion, this essay ascertains the significance and the validity of the thesis that democracy is arguably the most favorable form of government as it takes into account interests of various stakeholders. However, there is a need to assess the opposing arguments to maintain the reputation of democracy. Historically the debate on democracy versus authoritarianism has raised numerous questions as well as found support for the two structures of governance. Democracy gives the freedom to choose leaders and promotes individual rights among constructive institutions. However, in many so called democratic countries, there is evidence of authoritarian elements, such as corruption.

The argument of whether or not democracy hinders economic growth has been discussed in the essay. The conclusion is that democracy hinders economic growth in poor countries due to their high propensity to consume. The opposition to democracy also emphasizes the inadequacy of the techniques in place to maintain the element of free governance. The capabilities and resources for activities are restricted, and this limits their monitoring of government actions. The nature of voters causes them to believe in false promises made by politicians who do not plan to implement their proposals. Demonstrations and strikes observed in democratic countries like the United States are considered peaceful voice of opinions on certain decisions of the government. While in authoritarian nations such as China, they are viewed as threats to political and economic stability.

Authoritarian governments as an opposite to democracies tend to be very exclusive towards minorities and do not particularly work to protect their interests. Therefore, the concept of the tyranny of majority rule in democratic governance needs to be modified to cater to minorities. Despite this, it is better for minorities to live under democratic than under authoritarian rule.