Democracy and the state
Democracy as a form of government encompasses a government that has significant core values, adheres to the rule of law, maintains popular sovereignty, guarantees its citizens rights and liberties, and aims at achieving a status of economic wellbeing of its populace (Sodaro 27). Democracy has been seen as the existence of democratically elected governments around the world. This is marked by free and fair elections and respect for the constitution. In spite of the fact that many countries around the world are democratic, it is commonplace for some states to deprive citizens of their basic freedom, which has been the dominant characteristic of countries such as Peru and Philippines. Although the concept of free and fair elections in choosing of leaders is supposed to go hand in hand with constitutional liberalism, this condition has been flouted by many states thus making the two phenomena go apart (Zakaria).
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By a state is meant a set of political institutions that are used to produce and implement policies pertinent to development. The set of institutions claim legitimacy in a specific territory, which is considered to be sovereign (or tries to be sovereign) and is therefore not subject to any kind of influence from any other state (Sodaro 44).
States or governments consolidate democracy by ensuring that they monitor all activities within their territories to facilitate development rather than escalation of undesirable conditions. They do this by controlling the use of resources within their jurisdiction and ensuring that they are used for the betterment of the conditions of the populace. States thus supervise people to ensure that they do not engage in activities that are detrimental to economic development. As sovereign territories, states use violence legitimately to protect their citizens as they to strive to build the economy. The states or governments aim at development by providing conditions that are conducive for their citizens to engage in economic development activities such as improving the level of technology, and creating a national culture that makes every citizen to identify with and be proud of the state. This brings a sense of being content among citizens and avoids instances of disquiet as is characteristic of undemocratic states (Sodaro 57).
A state’s democracy can be weakened by lack of resources, both natural and manmade, to facilitate economic stability. In addition, leaders and their ideas are instrumental in augmenting the stability of democracies. If leaders are not visionary and their ideas are not cohesive, the situation leads to the formation of splinter groups within the state, a condition that is unbefitting for the health of a democracy. International factors such as international politics or some countries’ influence of others can destabilize their democracy especially when splinter groups emerge within the democracy. Such influence may lead to uprisings and demonstration effects that distort the path to democratic stability. In addition, wars are a major drawback to democracy in that they discourage national cohesion among citizens (Sodaro 56-63).
Relationship between democracy and state in Britain and Germany
Britain and Germany can be considered as democracies because they have progressively moved from dictatorial rule to democratization (Zakaria). This transition has been marked by an opening of liberalization in which individual and group rights have greatly improved with fading authoritarianism. The two states are also characterized by improved individual and collective action and creation of civil societies. Additionally, the two states are featured by breakthroughs in negotiation of rules and fair processes in elections.
Britain’s democracy is characterized by well-structured legislative branches and electoral systems. The lower house of parliament, referred to as the House of Commons, has 646 members elected from the country’s districts. The function of the House of Commons is to pass laws, which are articulated by thoughts among political parties, pressure groups, private think tanks, various government departments, and the executive branch of the government (Sodaro 96).The House of Commons also avails finances for the state by collection of taxes. It also has a lot of influence in that it can dissolve the government if its members pass a vote of no confidence against the government. This however occurs infrequently because of the emphasis in party discipline and because the members of parliament are usually not interested in unexpected elections. The House of Commons works in collaboration with the upper house of parliament, or the House of Lords, which is responsible for revision of laws and ensuring equitable presentation and analysis of ideas to foster democratic development (Sodaro 97).
Britain’s electoral system comprises two major parties- the Conservative and Labor parties, and some minor third parties. Elections are held each time that the Prime Minister requests for dissolution of parliament in order to carry out the process (Sodaro 97).
Britain’s democracy is thus embodied in the separation of power among various arms of administration, which ensures that development aspects are addressed from a multiplicity of perspectives rather being confined to one center that would encourage a tendency of orientation towards authoritarianism (Sodaro 101).
Germany’s democracy is based on a social market economy. After a long period of war, post war consensus strategies of development were aimed at reducing the power of the state. The leadership in Germany encourages democracy by intervening actively in the economy and setting a multiplicity of guidelines that avoid complex standards in order to reduce the red tape, having trust in the private investor to achieve the set governenmt objectives, as well as ensuring that there are close relationships between the government, business organizations and labor councils (Sodaro 116).
Even though Germany seems to be a stable democracy, its beautifully drafted constitution can be criticized for failing to avert fascism (Zakaria). Many people in Germany have regarded the constitution as being simply a mass of paperwork that cannot produce much difference in leadership as was shown by the country’s failure to avert military struggles between the West and East, a series of social revolutions and the effects of the Great Depression. Such effects, which resulted from a combination of various processes that inhibited direct democracy, muzzled the voice of the people, thus denying them the right to democracy (Zakaria).
Characterization of the two states/governments
Although both Britain and Germany are democracies, there are differences in the nature of democracy and position of the states. A good state is one which has a medium level of authority in that it can carry out it operations effectively. Along this line, if states are too weak they become ineffective but if they are too strong they shield themselves from the demands of the public. Both Britain and Germany are strong states but given that Germany is still recovering from the effects of division into East and West Germany (Zakaria) while Britain has survived for long as a sovereign state and has a more encompassing constitution, it has the qualities of being stronger than Germany as a state.
It is evident democracy and efficient states are inseparable. Democracy entails core values that are beneficial to the populace such as respect for the rule of law, sovereignty, recognition of the rights and liberties of people and so forth. Another core value of democracies is the respect for free and fair elections and recognition of justly elected governments as well as the constitution, which is the supreme law of the land.
The essence of a state performing its responsibilities is closely related to democracy. States are supposed to monitor the development activities within their jurisdiction and ensure that the activities are beneficial to the people. In addition, states also supervise their citizens as they carry out the development activities and provide conditions that are conductive for them. States also exercise legitimate violence to ensure that their citizens are well protected.
Worthy noting is the fact that the aforementioned functions of government cannot be carried out in undemocratic states. Such states are characterized by leaders who lack visions or are egocentric with no focus on national cohesion. Undemocratic states may also lack resources due to alienation by others and therefore fail in their duties. Democracy is also essential for international relations, without which some states may be influenced negatively by others. It is therefore imperative that democracy be linked to the development of states, since it is one of the core values of development.
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Sodaro, Michael J. Comparative Politics: A Global Introduction with PowerWeb. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2001
Zakaria, Fareed. The Rise of Illiberal Democracy. Foreign Affairs. 1997. Web.