Jul 1, 2013

A "free and fair election" does not a democracy make

This is a reply to those who say that freely and fairly elected leaders are democratic and should be allowed to do whatever they want.

"One swallow does not a summer make." Aristotle.
Similarly, a "free and fair election" does not a democracy make.

This webpage 
says it very well.

"Free and fair" elections: Necessary but not sufficient for democracy.

"Elections constitute the basic democratic method for selecting those who make decisions on our behalf, and holding them accountable for their decisions. For elections to genuinely reflect the people's will, votes have to count equally, candidates for office have to be able to campaign freely, and there has to be a "level playing field" for governing and opposition parties and candidates in the electoral contest. Most infringements of these principles occur when governing parties or leaders refuse to accept the possibility that they might lose office, and try to prevent that from happening.
However, holding elections does not make a democracy. People have to be able to influence their representatives on a continuous basis, and to communicate and organize with others on matters of common interest, independently of government. This requires an underpinning of guaranteed individual rights and freedoms, particularly of expression, association and assembly. These, in turn, require an independent judiciary to uphold them. Also crucial is the existence of free media of communication (press, broadcasting, the Internet) to ensure that there is independent information about the actions of public officials, and to facilitate communication and organization among citizens in defence and promotion of their interests.
Basic economic and social rights – a minimum livelihood, health care and education – are also essential to democracy, since without these the right to participate in public affairs cannot be exercised effectively. It is for this reason that democracy and human rights can be seen as closely connected. Both have as their basic premise the equal worth of each individual, regardless of race, gender, personal belief or style of life."
A democracy that does not protect political, social and economic rights is not a democracy.

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