mailife - - Insight -

By JOHN MITCHELL Ac­cord­ing to Amer­i­can ed­u­ca­tor, min­is­ter and sup­porter of votes for women, Anna Gar­lin Spencer: “The essence of democ­racy is its as­sur­ance that ev­ery hu­man be­ing should so re­spect him­self and should be so re­spected in his own per­son­al­ity that he should have op­por­tu­nity equal to that of ev­ery other hu­man be­ing to show what he was meant to be­come.” This third ar­ti­cle about democ­racy ex­plores the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples vi­tal for elec­tions. In the last two is­sues, you learned that democ­racy is more than just a set of spe­cific gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions. You also learned that democ­racy is based on a wellun­der­stood group of prin­ci­ples, val­ues, at­ti­tudes, and prac­tices - all of which may take dif­fer­ent forms and ex­pres­sions among cul­tures and so­ci­eties around the world. Though no two demo­cratic coun­tries are ex­actly alike, peo­ple in many democ­ra­cies sup­port the same ba­sic prin­ci­ples and de­sire the same ben­e­fits from their gov­ern­ment. The prin­ci­ples of democ­racy are at the core of all demo­cratic states, with all these prin­ci­ples be­ing closely con­nected and linked. Here are some ex­am­ples of the prin­ci­ples of­ten re­ferred to as ‘sign­posts of democ­racy’, which are used to find out how demo­cratic coun­tries re­ally are. Demo­cratic so­ci­eties em­pha­size the prin­ci­ple that we are all born equal and free un­der the law.Equal­ity means that we are val­ued equally, have equal op­por­tu­ni­ties, and may not be dis­crim­i­nated against be­cause of our race, re­li­gion, eth­nic group, gen­der, lan­guage or cul­ture, among oth­ers. In Fiji, equal­ity is guar­an­teed un­der the 2013 Con­sti­tu­tion’s Bill of Rights. Demo­cratic so­ci­eties are po­lit­i­cally tol­er­ant. This means that while the ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple rule in a democ­racy, the rights of the mi­nor­ity must be pro­tected. Peo­ple who are not in power must be al­lowed to or­ga­nize and speak out on is­sues that af­fect them. Po­lit­i­cal tol­er­ance makes sure that di­verse voices and opin­ions are al­lowed to be ex­pressed and heard in pub­lic. Ac­count­abil­ity in a democ­racy means that Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials are re­spon­si­ble for their ac­tions and must make de­ci­sions and per­form their du­ties ac­cord­ing to the will and wishes of the peo­ple, and not for them­selves. Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment elected by the peo­ple are held ac­count­able.

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