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  • 12/18/2011

The Concept and Principles of Democracy


The term “democracy”‌ comes from the word Greek: خ´خ·خ¼خ؟خ؛دپخ±د„خ¯خ± – (dؤ“mokratأ‌a) "rule of the people", which was coined from خ´ل؟†خ¼خ؟د‚ (dêmos) "people" and خ؛دپخ¬د„خ؟د‚ (Kratos) "power", in the middle of the 5th-4th century BC to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens following a popular uprising in 508 BC.

Democracy is in fact a Greek word and its social and political application, meaning "popular sovereignty" or "public right to participate in decision-making in public affairs”‌, became relevant in the second half of the fifth century BC in Athens. Democracy or democratic rule has been defined in the classical texts as "the government of the people, by the people, and for the people". The term is made of two Greek words of ‘Demos’ (meaning the public) and ‘Kratos’ (meaning power, government, administration and the rule). Despite the various definitions of democracy, political participation of citizens in making decisions is the constitution of democracy, but the three principles of liberty, equality and participation in political decision are the main principles of democracy. Some name the three principles of legitimacy, equality, and freedom instead.

In a broader perspective, some interpret the basic principles of democracy as, ”‌The power and law that comes from the will of the people, the freedom of public opinion and the reliance of the government on it, existence of clear mechanisms for expressing public opinions including political parties, the principle of the rule of the majority in case of controversies with the condition of political tolerance, the limited power of the government and having respect for the rights and freedom of individuals and groups, diversity and multiplicity of groups, social values”‹”‹, the possibility of public discussion and free exchange of ideas about political issues, strength of the civil society, the principle of relativity of moral values, tolerance of different beliefs and oppositions, political equality of different groups in terms of access to power, the possibility of a minority group turning into the majority by propagating its ideas, independence of the Judiciary in order to ensure the security and civil liberties of individuals and groups, separation of powers or independence of at least three branches of government from each other and the possibility of formation of organized and legal oppositions.”‌

As a matter of fact, the complexity, scope and ambiguity of the concept of democracy and its principles, makes it difficult to determine the different types of democracy and hence there are several categorizations of democracy.

Religious democracy is the latest of democracy which was introduced after the victory of the Islamic Revolution. This new version of democracy has all positive aspects of democracy and has removed its negative aspects by relying on the divine teachings of Islam.

Translated by: Sadroddin Musawi

Other links:

Thoughts Behind the Islamic Revolution : Part 1

Thoughts Behind the Islamic Revolution : part 2

Triumph Of the Islamic Revolution

Iran’s Islamic Revolution events (20 &21 Bahman,1357)

Iran’s Islamic Revolution events (22 Bahman 1357)

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