Home Global Village Is Democracy merely rule of the majority?

Is Democracy merely rule of the majority?

Majority
  • 48
    Shares

Farah Adeed |

Democracy is under the threat not only in Pakistan but across the globe. Authoritarian tendencies of political leaders in both established and transitional democracies are greatly challenging and compromising democratic ideals. People like Donald Trump in the United States of America, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey and Narendra Modi in India are the leaders who claim to be the representatives, and, ironically, guardians of democracy. There is no denying of the fact that a political culture plays crucial role in the development of democracy.

But it is also pertinent to mention that leaders have always been detrimental when it comes to consolidate or weaken a system in any state. Democracy in our times is under the threat posed by leaders who intend to invent an authoritarian style of governance under the tag of democracy. Present-day Pakistan is politically unstable yet, arguably, an emerging democracy. Existing political contradictions within the political system of Pakistan are inviting both some accounts of sassy criticism and token of appreciation.

In Pakistan, we need to be cleared and clarified as to what democracy is? How is it constituted? What it includes and what it does not? What are the basic principles of a democracy? What are the powers of majority and what are the rights of minorities in a democracy? Who will ensure rule of law?

In today’s Pakistan almost all the criticism and appreciation are largely about the role of political parties and the superior judiciary. The ruling party in Pakistan has, however, made all efforts to inculcate an anti-democracy image of the judiciary in the minds of people. From an ousted prime minster to the serving one, all leaders from the ruling party have verbally attacked the court, and urged public to revolt against the system.

Read more: Countering Sharif’s apologists

A system which helped Nawaz and his party to get established, and maintain their political dominance for almost three decades is being questioned non-other than the PML-N itself. The important question, however, is as to what went wrong which has completed the ruling party to revolt against the system and confront the apex court? Ironically, in Pakistan many political commentators, journalists, and even some university professors understand democracy only in terms of majority’s wish or the rule of majority.

Such a myopic conception of democracy does not help us to differentiate a democratic rule from a mob rule where the choice of majority determines good or bad. Interestingly, a majority in a democracy gets an opportunity to form a government but it does not mean the said majority enjoys the rights a king or a Pope used to possess in Middle Ages Europe during the predominance of absolute monarchs.

This is not only misleading but also dangerously harmful for the state and society of Pakistan where dictatorship has been a common currency. Nawaz Sharif was elected by the people to hold highest executive post of the country. But his voters did not empower him to do whatever he wished to.

Democracy offers respect to the will of majority but it also issues some fundamental democratic principles which differentiate it from illiberal or pseudo-democracies. Rule of law, equality, effectiveness, freedom of expression, and protection for minorities are the basic principles of modern representative liberal democracies. Pakistan is an interesting country where a person who is said to be a demagogue, misused his power for his own vested interest, is being praised and treated as the champion of democracy.

The court is being bashed by both pro-PML-N workers and some media persons for obscuring the process of democratization in Pakistan. This is not only misleading but also dangerously harmful for the state and society of Pakistan where dictatorship has been a common currency. Nawaz Sharif was elected by the people to hold highest executive post of the country. But his voters did not empower him to do whatever he wished to.

Read more: MQM & PSP: A one night stand

Let me ask a little novel question to deal with a particular case of Pakistan; can a majority allow a person to do all illegal activities e.g. genocide of ethnic and religious minorities, corruption, abuse of power and misuse of authority? From a democratic theory standpoint, it is not only undemocratic but also a crime against the humanity.

In Pakistan, we need to be cleared and clarified as to what democracy is? How is it constituted? What it includes and what it does not? What are the basic principles of a democracy? What are the powers of majority and what are the rights of minorities in a democracy? Who will ensure rule of law?

Let’s remind our politicians and political commentators that democracy is more than a majority is wish. . .

The writer is a visiting faculty member at University of Punjab; he lectures on politics and international relations. He has joined Global Village Space as Research Associate. The views expressed in this article are authors own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.


  • 48
    Shares

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here