GUEST COLUMN: What is political democracy and what does experts says about democracy? By Abbati Bako

Illustration photo of Democracy

GUEST COLUMN: What is political democracy and what does experts says about democracy? By Abbati Bako

AREWA AGENDA – Political Democracy is now in every continent of the world. The system has been described by political science scholars such as Professor Albena Azmanova of Kent University UK that as a game that “has competing values, interest and ambition”. This means that Democracy has flooded the world including the emerging nations of the Southern parts such as Africa, Asian Continent and Latin America.

Democracy means;- public- sphere.

Democratic governance is a concept that emerged from the principles that are based on the understanding that an effective and vibrant system of democratic governance is one which is based on representative, equitable (across gender and other categories of people), transparent, accountable and inclusive institution/class; a vibrant, responsible and capable social media and a dynamic civic society. Democracy is defined by freedom of speech and assembly, free elections and a government resulting from such free elections, the separation of powers and the rule of law which is engaged in the political process.

There are different meanings of democracy all of them according to political scientist (Professor Kamilu Sani Fage 2002, BUK) can be classified into three general categories. They include:-
(1) Normative
(2) Empirical
(3) Normative – Empire

Professor Tatah Mentan of the institute for Global Studies, University of Minnesota is an expert in political science and teaches courses on globalisation and security studies, says “Democracy is about political choice fostered by meaningful political competItion. In a democracy all partisan interest and ideological flavourrs have a chance to make their case to electorate. A well functioning democracy does not guarantee success in the political (or economic) marketplace. Rather; it does assure that everyone should potentially be capable of securing office”. A formal definition of democracy by (Holden) is that, it is:-
“A political system in which the people, positively or negatively make and are entitled to make, the basic determining decision on important matters of public policy”.

On the other hand, substantive democracy according to Martin “goes beyond the formal trappings of democratic political system (such as multipartism and elections) to include such elements as accountability and genuine popular participation in the nation’s political and economic decision making processes”.

For Karl Marx’s: “Democracy is a set of institutions that permit the entire adult population to act as citizens by choosing their leading decision makers in competitive, fair and regularly scheduled elections which are held in the context of the rule of law, guarantees for political freedom, and limited military prerogatives”.

For Mill, the ideal form of democracy is that
“in which the sovereignty, or supreme controlling power in the last resort, is vested in the entire aggregate of the community; voice in the exercise of that ultimate sovereignty, but being at least occasionally called on to take an equal part in the government, by the personal discharge of some public function, local or general”.

“The minimal requirements of formal democracy are five (according to Professor Attahiru M. Jega 2007, Bayero University, Kano)
1. Basic freedom guaranteed
2. Existence of universal suffrage
3. Operation of multi party system
4. Periodic free and fair elections are held
5. Governance based on the rule of law”.

Even though democracy has its origins to ancient Greek, other cultures have significantly contributed to its evolution. Places like as ancient India, ancient Rome, Europe and North and South America are among the few that have recorded democracy at its early stage. Democracy has spread considerably across the globe. Suffrage has been expanded in many jurisdictions over time from relatively narrow groups (such as wealthy men of a particular ethnic group), but still remains a controversial issue with regard to disputed territories, areas with significant immigration, and countries that exclude certain demographic groups.

Democracy is a particular type of political process in which power, its conduct and limitations are determined by the majority of the citizens of the state through established political institutions. Though the concept of democracy was recognized long time ago, its modern form in terms of representative or liberal democracy is of recent origin. Its emergence and development are associated with the decline and collapse of feudalism, mass population emerged from feudal economic and political bondage.

The values which have been upheld by this process of democracy include those of liberty, equality, fraternity and freedom. Those are the values that formed the basis for a new political process which involved mass participation. Therefore liberal democracy can be said to have emerged along with capitalist system. One can also say that it is a particular form of capitalist politics built and sustained by the above mentioned values.

The main consideration of this political arrangement therefore is the participation of the majority in the act of governance of the state and its decision making process as well as control of the society pure and simple.

To be continued…

Abbati Bako,psc,bsis,Kent,UK Political Strategy and Communication Consultant and Special Adviser to the Governor of Kano State on Public Affairs