Democracy and governance

Democracy and governance

In traditional terms, individuals understand democracy as a participative form of governance whereby subjects possess a significant role in forming decisions that affect them. Democracy, however, commonly entails the three elements of representative government, freedom of speech, and multiparty elections. This form of governance contrasts with the elitist system whereby a few individuals form decisions that affect the whole populace. A democratic government can either operate through direct citizens’ participation or function through representative systems. In the representative systems, individuals elect those individuals they deem competent in representing their views to the government. In spite of its claimed benefits, democracy remains an overrated system.

A democracy normally evolves into a popularity contest. This occurs in the representative system of democracy as people contest for elective posts. In this sense, polls cannot effectively decide the right person. The person who wins elections is an individual who speaks about what the majority is willing to hear. In the end, many candidates who win elective posts become populists. This happens as they pursue policies that articulate towards the temporary satisfaction of given supporters. This compromises on the long-term operation of a government because it does not create objective decisions (Sadiki, 2004). It is essential to highlight that populist leaders tend to emphasize on emotion rather than reason.

Democracy also entails complex accountability. This is unlike autocratic systems whereby a government does not have to respond to its subjects on all issues conducted by the state. When an autocratic system makes mistakes, it is relatively easy to hold an individual accountable for the atrocities committed by the state. An elected candidate who advocates for decisions infringing on people’s entitlements may escape justice in a democracy because such a person makes resolutions according to the constitution developed by the citizens. Democracies also make it difficult to keep government secrets. It is crucial to underscore the fact that most states have dirty dealings that are unknown to the public. Covert operations and spying are part of the regular operations of the state that the governments usually conduct for the greater good. When the public gains knowledge of such operations, the government becomes less effective in fighting evils such as crime. A democracy, however, thrives on a moral system that makes secrecy a difficult ideal.

A democracy only favors the opinion of the majority. A typical democracy allows the majority to create decisions affecting even the minority. This means that democracy is counterproductive, as it does not regard the opinion of everyone it claims to protect. An individual with a constructive opinion will have to rely on the majority to pass on such a decision. This situation is worse in the case of tribal politics whereby large tribes gain a considerable influence on the government. Human nature usually influences individuals to identify with certain groups. These groups eventually develop enmity with other groups (Gellar, 2006). In the end, a large group amasses benefits from the government at the expense of the minority.

Democracy manifests as an overrated system of governance due to its major flaws. Democracies normally evolve into popularity contests whereby candidates who focus on emotions easily attract the voters. This creates a scenario whereby leaders make decisions that satisfy given interests rather than create objective solutions to societal problems. Democracy also involves complex accountability since the state has to report to every citizen. Democracy also encourages the tyranny of the majority against the minority groups.


Gellar, S. (2006). Democracy in Senegal: Tocquevillian Analytics in Africa. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sadiki, L. (2004). The search for Arab democracy: Discourses and counter-discourses. London, UK: Hurst.