Study Material and Notes of Ch 2 What is Democracy? Why Democracy? Class 9th Civics

Topics in the Chapter

• What is Democracy?
• Features of Democracy
→ Major Decisions by elected leaders
→ Free and fair electoral competition
→ One person, one vote, One value
→ Rule of Law and respect for rights
• Why Democracy?
→ Arguments against democracy
→ Arguments for democracy
• Broader meanings of Democracy

What is Democracy?

• A simple Definition: Democracy is a form of government in which the rulers are elected by the people.

Features of Democracy

• The rulers are elected by the people.

• Free and competitive elections are held.

• Each adult irrespective of religion, education, caste, colour, wealth have one vote, one value.

• The elected rulers take decisions within limits set by constitutional law and citizens’ rights.

• Rule of Law

• The rights of the citizens must be protected through Constitution.

• There must be an independent judiciary.

Major Decisions by Elected leaders

• In Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf led a military coup in October 1999 and overthrew democratically elected government and became President of the country.
→ In 2002, he held a referendum in the country which was based on malpractices and fraud granted him a five-year extension.
→ After passing law, ‘Legal Framework Order’ which gave the president power to dismiss the national and provincial assemblies, elections were held to the national and provincial assemblies.

• In this case, Pakistan has had elections, elected representatives have some powers. But the final
power rests with military officers and General Musharraf himself. So,this should not be called a

• In a democracy, the final decision-making power must rest with those elected by the people.

Free and fair electoral competition

• In China, elections are regularly held after every five years for electing the country’s parliament called National People’s Congress.
→ Before contesting elections, a candidate needs the approval of the Chinese Communist Party.
→ The government is always formed by the Communist Party.

• Mexico holds elections after every six years to elect its President.
→ But until 2000 every election was won by a party called PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party). → Opposition parties did contest elections, but never managed to win as PRI was known to use many dirty tricks to win elections.

• Both the cases should not be called a democracy.

• A democracy must be based on a free and fair election where those currently in power have a fair chance of losing.

One person, one vote, One value

• There are many instances of denial of equal right to vote.

→In Saudi Arabia women do not have the right to vote.

→ Estonia has made its citizenship rules in such a way that people belonging to Russian minority find it difficult to get the right to vote.

→ In Fiji, the electoral system is such that the vote of an indigenous Fiji has more value than that of an Indian-Fijian.

• In a democracy, each adult citizen must have one vote and each vote must have one value.

Rule of Law and respect for rights

• Since independence, Zimbabwe ruled by ZANU-PF.
→ Its leader, Robert Mugabe has been ruling the country. He is popular but also uses unfair practices in elections.
→ Elections have been held regularly and always won by ZANU-PF.
→ Opposition party workers are harassed and their meeting disrupted.
→ Public protests and demonstrations against the government are declared illegal.
→ Television and radio are controlled by the government and give only the ruling party’s version.
→ Independent newspapers are there but the government harasses those journalists who go against it.
→ The government has ignored some court judgments that went against it and has pressurised judges.

• In this case, government is not democratic as there is no there is no citzen' basic rights, no political opposition, no judiciary.

• A democratic government rule within limits set by constitutional law and citizens’ rights.

Why Democracy?

Arguments against democracy

•  Leaders keep changing in a democracy. This leads to instability.

• Democracy is all about political competition and power play. There is no scope for morality.

• So many people have to be consulted in a democracy that it leads to delays.

• Elected leaders do not know the best interest of the people. It leads to bad decisions.

• Democracy leads to corruption for it is based on electoral competition.

• Ordinary people don’t know what is good for them; they should not decide anything.

Arguments for democracy

• A democratic government is a better government because it is a more accountable form of government.

• Democracy improves the quality of decision-making.

• Democracy provides a method to deal with differences and conflicts.

• Democracy enhances the dignity of citizens.

• Democracy allows us to correct its own mistakes.

Broader Meanings of Democracy

• The most common form that democracy takes in our times is that of a representative democracy where majority is allowed to take decisions on behalf of all the people.
→ The majority of people rule through their elected representatives.

• A democratic decision involves consultation with and consent of all those who are affected by that

• Democracy is a principle that can be applied to any sphere of life.
→ Democracy can apply to a government or a family or any other organisation.

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