Constitutional democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people which is based on the supremacy of the constitution. It can also be explained as a democratic system in which the will of the people prevail, there fundamental human rights recognized and protected and the principle of rule of law strictly adhered to.
TYPES OF CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY
- DIRECT DEMOCRACY
This is also known as classical democracy. It is a form of democracy in which all adult citizens take active part in the management and political running of the state. This type of democracy was practiced in Athens, the ancient city of Greece.
- INDIRECT DEMOCRACY
This is also called representative democracy. This form of democracy is built on the principle of majority rule because it allows a few elected representatives to make decisions and formulate policies on behalf of the people. In other words, a representative democracy is a type of democracy in which registered and qualified electorates vote during election to determine who will represent their interest in government.
Representative government becomes important and replace direct democracy as a result of the complexity in the structure and system of the modern state or society which has made the direct form of democracy in-appropriate and ineffective. Virtually all state in the world practicing democracy today operates a representative democracy.
Explain the types of constitutional democracy.
FEATURES OF CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY
- POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY
In a constitutional democracy, the people posses the final political authority in making decisions that relate to public issues. They also have the power to remove any of their representatives that fails to represent their interest in government by not voting for such candidates in subsequent elections. Thus, the citizens opinion should be respected in a true democracy.
- MAJORITY RULE
Democracy is a game of number, the candidate who enjoys popular acceptance by getting the highest vote usually wins election. The principle of majority rule further explains that government decisions must reflect popular interests and opinion of the people.
- MINORITY RIGHT
In a true democracy, majority have their way and minority have their say. The interest and opinion of the people who are in the minority group is usually unpopular and as a result they tend to be intimidated. However, constitutional democracy ensures that the minority interest is protected and their opinion listened to. It also ensures that everybody in the state enjoys their fundamental human rights as provided by the constitution.
- RULE OF LAW
Constitutional democracy operates with the principle of rule of law which states that everybody is equal before the law and that the law of a state is supreme.
- PERIODIC ELECTION
Constitutional democracy is characterized by a regular and periodic election. This election must be free and fair, and the electoral body must be allowed to operate independently without interference.
- EQUAL ACCESS TO POLITICAL OPPORTUNITIES
In constitutional democracy, everybody has equal rights to vote and contest during election. The voting during election must be one man, one vote. Also, sex and socio-economic status should not be used as a means of political discrimination.
- INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY
The judiciary in a constitutional democracy operates as an independent body which is free from the influence of the executive and legislative arms of government.
GENERAL EVALUATION QUESTIONS
- Define constitutional democracy.
- State and explain the features of constitutional democracy.
- What is independence of the judiciary?
- Explain rule of law.
- Mention the principles of rule of law.
Read on Constitutional Democracy and its Features in Fundamentals of Civic Education for Senior Secondary School by Sola Akinyemi.
- An organization that can present candidates for election is called (a) pressure group (b) political party (c) electoral commission
- The act of choosing a leader by voting is called (a) franchise (b) appointment (c) election
- _________ is a document that contains the name and details of people who are qualified to vote during election? (a) ballot paper (b) ballot box (c) voters register
- which of these forms of government best promote the principle of rule of law (a) democracy (b) monarchy (c) oligarchy
- Democracy means _________? (a) rule by the rich people (b) rule by a few people (c) rule by the people
- State three benefits of constitutional democracy.
- Mention two disadvantages of constitutional democracy.
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