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DEMOCRACY (Greek: dḗmos – people, krátos – rule, literally – the rule of the people) – it originates from the polis of ancient Greece, in this approach d. is a system of government in which the power is exercised by the sovereign – the citizens; depending on the historical period, the concept of democracy can be understood in a different way. This is due to the changing role of citizens and the way of exercising power over the years. Contemporary understanding of d. was formed when in the consciousness of the citizens and in the legal system a category of power and people who exercise it was separated. The basic meanings of d. are as follows: 1. the rule of the people (society); 2. the form of a socio-political system in which the will of the majority of citizens is recognized as the source of power and political rights and freedoms that guarantee the exercise of this power are granted to them; 3. a synonym for political rights and freedoms that determine the equality of citizens before the law; 4. a socio-economic system, whose task is to ensure equal participation of citizens in access to goods and services. D. most often is defined as a socio-political system and a form of exercising power, in which the source of power is the will of the majority of citizens who govern directly or through the representatives chosen in elections. D. should be based on the criteria of: 1. equal access to politics irrespective of sex, race, religion and beliefs, wealth or education; 2. ability of all citizens to run for positions in bodies constituting the authority; 3. possibility of selecting candidates for public positions in free and fair elections; 4. possibility of associating in political parties and choosing between alternative options; 5. sovereignty of the nation, which means that the supreme power belongs to the community, is inalienable and indivisible; 6. the principle of representation, i.e. delegation of powers by the nation to representatives chosen in elections; 7. responsibility of the rulers before the governed – the creation of specialized institutions of power control to prevent its abuse; 8. division and balance of power; 9. freedom of beliefs and speech; 10. protection of civil rights and their protection against excessive and unjustified interference by the authorities (→ representative democracy; direct democracy) [ E. Szulc-Wałecka ].
Literature: M. Gulczyński, Politologia. Podręcznik akademicki [Political Science. Academic handbook], Warszawa 2010 ■ R. Markowski, Demokracja i demokratyczne innowacje. Z teorią w praktykę [Democracy and democratic innovations. With theory into practice], Warszawa 2014.