Democracie (or democracy) is a poleetical form o government in which governin pouer is derived frae the fowk, either bi direct referendum (direct democracie) or bi means o electit representatives o the fowk (representative democracie). The term comes frae the Greek: δημοκρατία – (dēmokratía) "rule o the fowk", which wis coined frae δῆμος (dêmos) "fowk" an κράτος (Kratos) "pouer", in the middle o the 5t-4t centurie BC tae denote the poleetical seestems then existin in some Greek ceetie-states, notablie Athens follaein a popular uprisin in 508 BC. Even though there is nae specific, universallie acceptit definition o 'democracie', equalitie an freedom hae been identified as important characteristics o democracie since ancient times. These principles are reflectit in aw citizens being equal afore the law an haein equal access tae pouer. For example, in a representative democracie, iverie vote haes equal weight, nae restrictions can apply tae onyane wantin tae become a representative, an the freedom o its citizens is secured bi legitimized richts an liberties which are generallie protectit bi a constitution.
There are several varieties o democracie, some o which provide better representation an mair freedoms for their citizens than ithers. Housomeivver, if onie democracie is no carefullie legislatit – through the uise o balances – tae avoid an uneven distribution o poleetical pouer, such as the separation o pouers, then a branch o the seestem o rule coud accumulate pouer thus become undemocratic.
The "majoritie rule" is aften described as a characteristic feature o democracie, but athoot governmental or constitutional protections of individual liberties, it is possible for a minoritie o individuals tae be oppressed bi the "tyrannie o the majoritie". An essential process in representative democracies is competitive elections that are fair baith substantively an procedurallie. Furthermore, freedom o poleetical expression, freedom o speech, an freedom o the press are essential so that citizens are informed an able tae vote in their personal interests.
Popular sovereigntie is common but no a universal motivatin subject for establishin a democracie. In some kintras, democracie is based on the philosophical principle o equal richts. Monie fowk use the term "democracie" as shorthand for liberal democracie, which may include additional elements such as political pluralism; equalitie afore the law; the right to petition elected officials for redress of grievances; due process; civil liberties; human richts; an elements o ceevil societie ootside the government.
In the Unitit States, separation o pouers is aften cited as a supportin attribute, but in ither kintras, such as the Unitit Kinrick, the dominant philosophie is parliamentarie sovereigntie (though in practice judicial independence is generallie maintained). In ither cases, "democracie" is uised tae mean direct democracie. Though the term "democracie" is typicallie uised in the context o a poleetical state, the principles are applicable tae private organizations an ither groups an aa.
Democracie haes its oreegins in Ancient Greece. Housomeivver ither culturs hae significantlie contributit tae the evolution o democracie such as Ancient Rome, Europe, and North and South America. The concept o representative democracie arose largelie frae ideas an institutions that developed durin the European Middle Ages an the Age o Enlichtenment an in the American an French Revolutions. Democracie has been called the "last form of government" and has spread considerably across the globe. The richt tae vote haes been expandit in monie Jurisdictions ower time frae relatively narrae groups (such as wealthie men o a particular ethnic group), wi New Zealand the first naition tae grant universal suffrage for aw its citizens in 1893.
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- Procedural fairness means that the rules o the elections are clear an set in advance
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