Dahl, on Democracy Essay

1026 Words Nov 4th, 2007 5 Pages
Democracy has become the most widespread political form of government during the past decade, after the fall of all its alternatives. During the second part of the 20th century, the 3 main enemies of democracy, namely communism, fascism and Nazism, lost most of their power and influence. However, democracy is still only to be found in less than half of this world's countries. China with a fifth of the total population "had never experienced a democratic government" and Russia still doesn't have a well established democracy. By adopting a democratic perspective, 3 types of governments emerge, non-democratic, new democracies, and old democracies, and all have a different challenge to overcome: either to become democratic, to "consolidate" …show more content…
Around 1100 C.E., however, the cities in northern Italy began to introduce the system of popular government. Similarly to the Roman Republic only the aristocracy initially had the right to participate to the governing act. Due to threats from the rising middle class the rights were extended to allow them as well to participate. After 2 centuries of prosperity, the mid-1300s brought about the decadence of the popular government, due to corruption, economic decline, war, etc. In addition, this type of government was threatened " by the emergence of a rival with overwhelmingly superior forces: the national state or country" (Dahl, 1998: 16). All three examples had flaws and lacked certain elements characteristic of a modern representative government: either lack of a national parliament or the lack of elected representatives. Consequently three basic political principles "a national parliament composed of elected representatives and popularly chosen local government" (Dahl, 1998: 17) were missing. These three conditions were fulfilled in Scandinavia, Britain, Lowlands and Switzerland. Starting with the local assemblies of the Vikings (‘Ting'), where free men settled their disputes and passed/rejected laws, continuing with the concept of a true national parliament, the concept of democracy kept evolving. Although the Viking assemblies only allowed free men, and not slaves, to participate at meetings, the former class was "large enough

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