Democracy is overrated

Democracy is overrated

Although different institutions define democracy variedly, the fundamentals of this concept relate to government by the people through elected representatives. In other aspects, issues considered entail direct and indirect citizen political involvement, fairness, and prevalence of the rule of law. Idyllically, a democracy should ensure that all citizens have equal opportunities and access to national resources. Nonetheless, this is often not the case. Despite many governments and institutions portraying perfect democracies, this concept stands overrated because numerous ills that contravene social equality occur. These include flawed elections, majoritarianism, unfavorable safeguards and restrictions, and oppression.

One of the most ideal perspectives of democracy is based on the idea of ‘the will of the people’ (Mueller, 2001). As explained by Iversen (2005), this will is commonly found in elective processes across the world. When major democracies conduct elections every four or five years, there is a common belief that the processes are free and fair. Thus, the governments elected are ‘for the people, by the people’ (Mueller, 2001). However, an explanation by Iversen (2005) indicated that this is not the case. In underdeveloped countries, large fractions of the electorate are neither learned nor informed. Despite prevalent poor governance and underdevelopment, most politicians visit such persons in the eve of elections with handouts and gifts to woo their votes. After elections, the politicians fail to address major societal issues and emerge with handouts again after four years. Furthermore, the electorate has been customized to believe that the more flamboyant and colorful one’s campaign is, the better their ability to serve. To an extent, elections remain a contest of the rich. In other cases, candidates draw resources from friends who expect favors related to tenders and business policies if their candidates win. All these demean the original ideals of true democracy.

Another point worth considering is the relationship between minority and majority groups in elections. Many political parties and groups are aware of the fact that all bills and policies in parliaments are passed by majority votes. As a result, McDermott (2010) explained that political systems manipulate elections to ensure that they have majority memberships in legislative bodies. The implication of this is that they cannot lose anytime they intend to pass a law. Considerably, this moves the case from democracy to majoritarianism. This is because such a system could even deprive the minority of basic needs and still find the process democratic. According to Iversen (2005), the most common victim of this provision is the press. Because media institutions report on political ills, there have been many occasions across the world where parliaments have passed laws to bar the press from visiting parliament or performing other functions.

In its design, democracy provides numerous security measures and safeguards. These are entrenched in constitutions and relate to electoral processes, judicial procedures, individual rights and freedoms, and political representation. Miroff, Seidelman, and Swanstrom (1999) pointed out two examples that make such safeguards the breaking point of true democracy. The first rule is that a president must be elected by majority vote. In the event that an election is held and less than seventy percent turnout is achieved, fifty one percent of this attendance does not make up forty percent of the total population. It would imply that a decision made by approximately thirty percent is used to govern the rest. Although it is democratically correct, it is not ideal. Again, safeguards would bar the electorate from giving a hard working successful candidate a third term if the constitution restricts such.

The notion of democracy stands out as one of the most overrated ideas across the world. Globally, one of the ways of assessing the extent of democracy in a country is through elections. However, elections have numerous faults that make them flawed. Furthermore, many elected governments embezzle public funds and oppress minorities. Additionally, various safeguards introduced to ensure democratic success may sometimes turn around and hinder democracy in other ways. In general, the ideals of democracy are appealing. However, most systems that subscribe to democracy never practice these ideals.


Iversen, T. (2005). Capitalism, Democracy, and Welfare. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

McDermott, J. F. M. (2010). Restoring Democracy to America: How to Free Markets and Politics from the Corporate Culture of Business and Government. University Park: Pennsylvania State Univ. Press.

Miroff, B., Seidelman, R., & Swanstrom, T. (1999). Debating Democracy: A Reader in American Politics. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Mueller, J. E. (2001). Capitalism, Democracy and Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.