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Chapter: 11th Political Science : Chapter 5 : Democracy

Classical Democracy

Emerged as a direct form of democracy in Ancient Greece.

Classical Democracy:

Emerged as a direct form of democracy in Ancient Greece. Athens was the first city to introduce such a democracy. Direct democracy in Athens emerged in between 800-500 BCE (Before Common Era). In Athenian direct democracy, the citizens of the city-state are all as members of the assembly, who participated directly in the decision making and the process of legislation. Given the limited population they were able to gather in the city square and were able to deliberate. All citizens were free to express their different opinions, debate, and vote in a system directly and this was called as Classical Democracy.


As population increased, the idea of representation in government was proposed. It resulted in the elected representatives participating in the governing process. Gradually it created institutions like the Assembly of the Demos, the Council, and the People’s Court as the three important pillars of democracy. Classical democracy for its success should have two preconditions:


The community must be small enough for citizens to be proficient in attending debates and voting on issues; b) the economy of the state should be sufficient for enabling the citizens to engage in politics. The principles of classical democracy are mentioned below:



·              The chief political ideals were equality among all people, liberty and respect for law and justice.


·              Equality before law and equal treatment of law enabled justice to prevail in almost all the spheres of society. Political life was free and open.


The main subject of classical democracy was the participation of all peoples in the processes of state. Classical democracy was to bring equality among citizens in respect of rights and privileges.


Protective Democracy:


As Classical Democracy grew it began to take shape into protective democracy in Athens which was by the emphasis on different aspects of classical democracy. In this viewpoint, democracy has been regarded as a means at the disposal of individuals which they can use to safeguard their rights and liberties. Protective democracy as a Rights-based democracy emerged in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries placing it as an instrument of protecting human rights and liberties. The English thinker John Locke (1631-1704) was regarded as the great advocate of protective democracy. Locke argued that the citizen’s freedom and right to vote was based on the existence of natural rights characterized by Life, Liberty and Property.

Protective Democracy was proposed by English thinkers Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) James Mill 1773-1836) and John Stuart Mill(1806-1873) of the Utilitarian School of Democracy and Rights. Utilitarianism was powerfully advocated in favour of protective democracy. The theme of utilitarianism was to safeguard rights, liberty and opportunity as they were the basic principles of democracy. Safeguarding the rights was the safeguard of democracy.

Jeremy Bentham, James Mill and John Stuart Mill emphasized that democracy alone could safeguard all individual rights and interests through the mandate of the people who could be protected and advanced. John Locke, James Madison, Jeremy Bentham and James Mills-supported the Rights based protective democracy as an aspect of liberal democracy. The following are the basic features of protective democracy:

·              Protective democracy believes in popular sovereignty.

·              Both the popular sovereignty and representative form of government are legitimate.

·              It is the primary duty of the state to protect the rights nd liberties of citizens.

·              The authority is accountable to the People and in order to establish it elections are held on regular basis.

·              Separation of the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary are the most important means of protecting the rights, liberties and the distribution of privileges.

·              The introduction of rights-based protective democracy brought in the idea of constitutionalism that governed the ruler and the ruled by the principles laid down in constitution. The Constitution is the sole source of power for all and is the guarantor of rights and liberties. Legal provisions in the constitutions were introduced to protect, individual rights, rights of associations and groups against any violation of rights or encroachment on liberty on behalf of citizens. This brought in a competition among the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary in all spheres for the strengthening of protective democracy.It resulted in a clear distinction between state and civil society.


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