Democracy in Contemporary World

Democracy: The classic definition of democracy says that it is government for the people, of the people and by the people. In other words, democracy is a form of government in which people are allowed to choose their rulers. Following are the two important features of democracy:

  1. Only elected leaders by people rule the country.
  2. People have freedom to express views, freedom to organize and freedom to protest.

The Changing Map of Democracy

Note: These maps are taken from NCERT Text Book

Changing Map of Democracy

The world map given here shows democratic governments from 1900 to 1950. The countries which are shaded in red had already become democracies before 1900. The countries shaded in yellow became democracies between 1900 and 1970.

Changing Map of Democracy1

This world map shows democratic countries in 1975. Compared to the earlier map, the number of democratic countries has increased in this map. This was mainly because of freedom of many countries from colonialism. The end of colonialism resulted in the birth of many new nations during this period and many of them preferred for democratic rule.

Changing Map of Democracy2

This world map shows democratic countries in 2000. It can be said that most of the countries became democratic by this period. Collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and subsequent collapse of communist regimes in Eastern Europe and many other parts of the world led to rise of democracies around the world. This map also shows that a major portion of Africa is yet to embrace democracy. Additionally, China and some central Asian countries are the regions where democracy has not taken roots.


Phases in the Expansion of Democracy

End of Colonialism

The colonialism was beginning to end after the end of the Second World War. Many colonies became independent within a short period after the Second World War. India was one of them.

While India continues to be a thriving democracy, many former colonies experience various ups and downs. Military coups became the norm in many former colonies and democratic regimes were overthrown by dictatorial regimes, e.g. Ghana, Pakistan, Myanmar, etc.

The next big push for democracy came with revival of democracy in many Latin American countries; like Chile.

The collapse of the Soviet Union further accelerated this process. Communist regimes in many countries came to an end and paved the way for democratic regimes. At present, more than 140 countries have multi-party democracies.


Democracy at the Global Level

Promotion of Democracy

Many democratic regimes in the world believe in promoting democracy so that remaining non-democratic regimes should change. While the idea of promotion is very good, some countries have tried to enforce democracy in some other countries. The case of Iraq is a good example. It was ruled by the dictator Saddam Hussein. Although he earned bad repute because of annihilation of his political opponents, we should not forget that he gave liberties to women and pupil during his rule. USA attacked Iraq on the pretext of finding the weapons of mass destruction and for establishing a democratic regime. Saddam Hussein was finally captured and tried for several offences. An interim government of US’ choice was installed in Iraq after that.



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