Democracy: The classic definition of democracy says that it is the government for the people, of the people and by the people (Abraham Lincoln). In other words, democracy is a form of government in which people are allowed to choose their rulers. Following are the two important features of democracy:
- Only elected leaders (by people) rule the country.
- People have the freedom to express views, freedom to organize and freedom to protest.
1: (a) USA, 2: (d) Australia, 3: (b) China, 4: (c) 1787, 5: (c) 1789, 6: (d) New Zealand
The Changing Map of Democracy
Note: These maps are taken from NCERT Text Book
The world map given here shows democratic governments from 1900 to 1950. The countries which are shaded in red had already become democracies before 1900. The countries shaded in yellow became democracies between 1900 and 1970.
This world map shows democratic countries in 1975. Compared to the earlier map, the number of democratic countries has increased in this map. This was mainly because of freedom of many countries from colonialism. The end of colonialism resulted in the birth of many new nations during this period and many of them preferred for democratic rule.
This world map shows democratic countries in 2000. It can be said that most of the countries became democratic by this period. Collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and subsequent collapse of communist regimes in Eastern Europe and many other parts of the world led to rise of democracies around the world. This map also shows that a major portion of Africa is yet to embrace democracy. Additionally, China and some central Asian countries are the regions where democracy has not taken roots.
Phases in the Expansion of Democracy
- The process of democratization began with the French Revolution in 1789. It took about 100 years of struggle for France and many other European countries to develop into proper democracies.
- The process of democratization of Britain began much earlier than in France. It was a comparatively peaceful process.
- The British colonies in the North America declared their independence in 1776 and established democratic regime. Hence, USA is known as the oldest democracy in the world. The USA adopted its democratic constitution in 1787.
- Many changes took place during Europe’s struggle for democracy. It took many years of constant struggle to secure universal adult franchise. New Zealand was the first country to grant voting rights to women. Early democracies were established in North America, Europe and Latin America.