Democracy refers to any system of government in which rule is by the people.

The term democracy comes from the Greek “demos” (meaning "the people") and “kratia” (meaning "rule") or, putting the two together, rule by the people. The key idea of democracy is that it is the people who hold sovereign or supreme power. Thus, government is conducted by and with the people's consent. Abraham Lincoln best captured this spirit in describing democracy as “government of the people, by the indirectly through their representatives. Characteristics of democracy Individual liberty. Democracy requires that all individuals must have as much freedom as possible consistent with order. No violence. Rather, democracy requires that all persons be as free as possible to develop their potential and personalities. In Malaysia, the fundamental liberties of citizens are enshrined in articles 5 to 13 of the Federal Constitution. Majority rule with minority rights. Democracy requires that government decisions be based on majority rule, but with the


people, and for the people”. In short, democracy is a form of government in which the people rule themselves either directly or

individual, of course, can be completely free to do absolutely anything he or she wants. That would result in disorder or even

rights of the minority protected. Since democracy means rule by the people, majority rule answers the question of how the government determines what the people want. In a democracy, people usually accept decisions made by the majority of the voters in a free election. Laws enacted in our legislatures represent the will of the majority of the legislators and are accepted as such by the people and public officials. Democracy requires that the majority not use its power to diminish or abuse/violate the rights of the minority. Further, the minority must respect the rights of the majority. Free elections. All genuine democracies have free and open elections. Free elections at regular intervals (say once in five years) give people the chance to choose their leaders and to voice their opinions on various issues. Free elections also help to ensure that public officials are responsive to the needs and wishes of the people. In a democracy, free elections means: (a) that all

citizens have equal voting power. In other words, the votes of all persons carry the same weight - a principle often expressed in the phrase "one person, one vote." (b) that all candidates have the right to express their views freely, choose their preferred leaders, and voters have access to competing ideas or programmes. (c) that citizens are free to organise in support of their voting decisions. candidates or issues, and (d) that citizens are able to vote freely by secret ballot, without coercion or fear of punishment for Competing political parties. Rival political parties are an important element of democratic government. A political party is a group of individuals who organise to win elections, form a government and determine public policy. Rival parties help make elections meaningful. They give voters a choice among candidates representing different interests and points of view. They also help simplify and focus attention on key issues for voters. Finally, in democratic countries, the political party or parties that are out of power serve as the Opposition. That is, by criticizing the policies and actions of the party in power, they can help make those in power more responsive and responsible or accountable to the people.

Popular representation. In representative democracies, the voters elect representatives to act as legislators (to enact laws) and to voice and protect their general interest. Each legislator usually acts for a given constituency, district or group of people. them. One of the surest ways of determining the extent of democracy in a country is to see how free its press is. The press Free press. Authoritarian regimes or dictatorships cannot tolerate free and critical mass media; democracies cannot do without provides citizens with facts (information), raises public awareness and keeps rulers responsive to people's demands, needs and wishes. Without a free and critical press, those in power can disguise wrongdoing and corruption and lull the population into passive support. Limited government. A democratic government is carried on according to the principles, rules and provisions laid down in the constitution. This means that the powers of the government are restricted by the constitution. In other words, the government cannot exercise its powers arbitrarily, or abuse its powers according to its own whims and fancies.

Independent judiciary. In a democracy, the judicial branch of the government functions independently. In Malaysia. the Federal Court, as the highest (apex) court, resolves disputes between citizens , between citizens and the government and between the state and Federal Governments.

people can easily change the government without a bloody revolution and 'choose a ruler for the occasion' who may be specially qualified to manage a crisis situation. He is required to act in accordance with the provisions of the constitution . responsibility of the government is continuous and immediate. they formulate public policy and are responsible for enacting laws. Chamberlain was replaced by Churchill as Prime Minister because national emergency demanded it and this change was brought about without any political upheaval in England. Switzerland. The legislature sits most of the time and the ministers too sit in the legislature. they control the different departments of the government and enforce those laws and implement public policy. etc. It is also called the cabinet system of government. At the time of the Second World War. The nominal executive does not exercise any powers. It cannot function without wellorganised political parties. The weaknesses and blunders of the government can be criticized and condemned without any loss of time . The ministers remain in office so long as the party to which they belong to enjoys the support and confidence of resign. These ministers then guide the various ministries or departments of government that form the executive branch. d.. Under this form of government. the majority members of the legislature. we have a parliamentary form of government. The legislature then elects an executive from among its members.e. the United Kingdom. Their actions are always under scrutiny. As members of the majority party in parliament. effectiveness and the speedy implementation of the policies which received the approval of the electorate at the time of the general election. Thus they enjoy a dual position. Australia. Characteristics Parliamentary Government a. . the prime minister and cabinet can be speedily ousted by a vote of no confidence in the parliament. they have to Advantages of parliamentary government The most important merit of a parliamentary form of government is the harmony and co-operation between the legislature and the executive. For winning elections. voters elect only a legislature. They place before the people different manifestoes or programmes. A stable government ensures efficiency. the electorate must approve the programmes of the parties. In a parliamentary government. This is due to the fact that only the majority party in the parliament is allowed to form the cabinet. The prime minister and the ministers are responsible or answerable to the parliament for all their actions. he acts on the advice of the Prime Minister. In Malaysia. will be passed without any change. If they are defeated in the legislature. The prime minister who is the head of the largest party in parliament.A parliamentary form of government is one in which the executive is responsible to the legislature. win elections and form the government. c. the head of government. Japan. All this makes the people politically conscious and vigilant. The elected representatives of the people are the trustees of the whole nation. people and ensures ministerial responsibility. The majority party in parliament forms the government. In parliamentary systems. They have no fixed term of office. This accounts for the solidarity of the government and its stability. If Another merit of parliamentary government is its flexibility and elasticity. One other advantage of parliamentary form of government is its high educative value. In Malaysia. it feels confident that whatever legislation (laws) it initiates. The theory of separation of powers. The ministers are the members of the legislature as well as the executive heads of government departments. they may not be elected again. b. does not hold true in a parliamentary form of government. As the cabinet is always sure of its support in the legislature (because the executive and legislative branches are governed by the same party). India. names a team of ministers who are themselves members of the parliament.the prime minister . Parliamentary government is the best specimen of representative democracy as it recognises the ultimate sovereignty of the they act against public opinion. If the actions of the government are wrong. All the powers of the government are enjoyed and exercised by the cabinet. which is responsible to the legislature and through it to the people. The aims of political parties are to mould and educate public opinion. There is no difficulty in asking the ministers questions and supplementary executive is nominal and the other is real. therefore. The nominal executive is the head of state whereas the real executive . As members of the executive. the nominal executive is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the real executive is the cabinet. There is always a dual executive .i.

It violates the theory of separation of powers as it combines the executive and legislative functions in the same group of by a majority in the parliament. A parliamentary government is ineffective and inefficient because it is a government by amateurs. A party can get anything done or can rule as it pleases if it is backed b. it cannot be denied that the parliamentary system of government is both responsible and responsive. neglecting the interests and rights of the minorities. they are transferred from one department to another. The Opposition often opposes the policy and the bills introduced by the party in power irrespective of their merits. Sometimes. the minority party forms the opposition. and there are 'many minds to be consulted'.e. According to Freeman. in Canada as Provincial Governments and in Switzerland as Cantonal Governments. Members. The following are the distinguishing features (characteristics) of a federation: a. arrangement to secure the common safety and prosperity. the cabinet system degenerates into a party government in which the political power is monopolised by the majority party. the territory of the entire State is divided into a number of autonomous (independent) units. They believe in the saying that 'unity is strength'. Now it is the union of fifty (50) States. and balance on the government. to promote economic prosperity or to resist external aggression. The uncertainty in the tenure of office does not encourage the party in power to adopt a far-sighted and consistent policy. Political parties sometimes distort public opinion and do more harm than good. Australia. Features of a Federation A federation is a union among several States agreeing to form a new State either for political or economic reasons . following a cabinet reshuffle. a central government and several regional or state governments. it has its shortcomings too. stability and prestige. Co-existence of two governments. There is hardly any continuity of policies in a parliamentary government. Other examples of a federation are : Malaysia. So long as parliamentary majority is assured it assumes dictatorial powers which they head. The parliamentary system of government is unstable. Switzerland. a federation is the coming together of a number of States formerly separated and sovereign into some kind of states. c. The government has no fixed life. In Malaysia (a union of thirteen states) the regional governments are called State Governments. There is no other form of government which fulfils these democratic ideals. Demerits of parliamentary government If a parliamentary system has certain merits. They are required to support their party blindly. much against their conscience In spite of these defects. particularly in a coalition government or under a multi-party system. The ministers in-charge of their departments know very little about their departments. a. much cannot be expected from them in terms of efficiency or effectiveness in work performance. Thus in a federation we have two layers or levels of government . There is a saying in England that the Prime Minister knows the Leader of the Opposition better can retain its parliamentary majority which is subject to the whims and fancies of the representatives and they may frequently d.A final merit of parliamentary government is that it is in the real sense a government by criticism. every member must obey the party whip. Irresponsible criticism by the opposition may pose a threat to national unity. therefore. This leads to tyranny or 'cabinet dictatorship'. cannot be objective or independent. It remains in office only so long as it change their opinion.e. otherwise he is liable to party discipline. which may mean the end of his political career. In a parliamentary form of government. The United States of America was originally a union of the thirteen . Therefore. The opposition criticises and acts as a check than his wife! This explains how far the cabinet is alive to the criticism of the opposition. etc. A parliamentary government is weak in times of war or an emergency situation. Whereas the majority party in the legislature forms the government. it cannot take prompt or quick action or make decisive decisions in times of national crisis. It is for this reason that the Malaysian Constitution provides for such a system. With the growth of rigidity in the party discipline. In a federal system. Each of these units is known as a State or province and has a regional government. or judgment.i. Canada. and some of them are real.i. the result is that they do not have enough experience of the working of the departments f. e. As the cabinet consists of large number of ministers. individuals. India.

the federal constitution provides for a supreme court. As such. The general principle in the division of powers is that all powers which are of national importance. In a republic. are assigned to the central government and matters of provincial or local interest like sewerage. "The United States has become an aristocracy.e." Communism Here the people own the factors of production and have no personal holdings. but it also includes systems where the dictator first came to power Dictatorship legitimately but then was able to amend the constitution so as to. This is the most important feature of a federation. land.b. national finance. Today. entertainment ." especially if there is a large empire. is really a republic because the queen has virtually no political power. trade. Each of the two sets of governments in a federation (i. the people 4. This allocation or division or sharing of powers between the central and state governments is enshrined in the constitution itself. it is also rigid to ensure that the central or regional governments do not alter the federal characteristics of the State as and when they like. a federal constitution is supreme over the laws passed by both the central and regional governments. Monarchy A monarchy consists of rule by a king or queen. a few people. 3. there is little or no attention to public opinion or individual rights Republic A literal democracy is impossible in a political system containing more than elect representatives to make and enforce laws. educated people. Aristocracy An aristocracy is rule by the aristocrats. external borrowing .. purely by force. A federal government is like a contract or agreement. such as saying. the term "aristocracy" is used negatively to accuse a republic of being dominated by rich people. the powers of the Federal Government is specified in the Federal List whereas the powers of the State Governments are clearly spelt out in the State List in order to avoid disputes. typically. c. Usually. In Malaysia.. The independence of this court is maintained by making the tenure of the judges permanent during good behaviour. for example. definite and precise terms. etc. Rule by an individual who has full power over the country. Further. in effect. In order to decide such disputes. There are no large monarchies today. The United Kingdom. which has a queen. functions or administrative relations. All federal states have a written constitution. which must be laid down in clear. A federal judiciary. d. the army is in control. the Central government and the State governments) has specified powers to exercise. In Malaysia.g. education. The term may refer to a system where the dictator came to power. A written and rigid constitution. defence. are granted to state governments. such as China before 1911. Everything is produced by the state. and holds it. which is the . Many monarchies have really been ruled by aristocrats. This is because in a federal system there is sharing or division of powers. Division of powers.[13] In a military dictatorship. there may be numerous occasions for conflicts between the states and the central government or among the states on matters or questions of jurisdiction. etc. local government affairs. In case a law enacted by both the central and regional governments conflicts with the provisions of the federal constitution. powers. Aristocrats are typically wealthy. gather all power for themselves. e. All "democracies" are really republics. the law in question would be invalid. the highest (apex) court is known as the Federal Court. The constitution is not only a written one . Sometimes a king is called an "emperor.. foreign affairs.

and the administrative divisions exercise only powers that the central government has delegated to them.) More than 150 countries are unitary states. The United Kingdom. The countries under the aegis of the former Soviet Russia. it is independent and no . we could define sovereignty as the supreme and absolute authority of a state over its citizens and territory.” Willoughby defines sovereignty as “ the supreme will of the state. it can compel or force its citizens to pay taxes or obey its laws and other state can control it or interfere in its internal affairs. Sovereignty means that a state is independent of other states.” It possesses “supreme coercive power. socialist. unwritten.” governmental body. DEFINITIONS According to Bodin.” Jenks defines sovereignty as “an authority which. - A constitutional government is any government whose authority and construction are defined by a constitution. and is distributed to each individual according to his or her need. controls absolutely the actions of every individual member Duguit says that sovereignty is the “commanding power of the state . in which power is shared between the federal government and the states. The central government is supreme. SOVEREIGNTY The term sovereignty is derived from the Latin word “supremitas” which means supremacy or supreme authority or absolute power. it is the right to give unconditional orders to all individuals in the territory of the state. and Northern Ireland — have no power to challenge the constitutionality of acts of Parliament. it can govern its own territory. including those in power. or unitary state.” The Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia describes sovereignty as “ absolute political and military power embodied in a ruler or Grotius defined it as “ the supreme political power vested in him whose acts are not subject to any other and whose will cannot Soltau describes sovereignty as the exercise of “final legal coercive power by the state. declare war. the sovereign is “legally supreme over any individual or group. is a sovereign state governed as a single entity. government need not be of a specific type. the rule of law is an essential feature of constitutional government. Wales. punish those who disobey its commands. must obey." be overridden. in the last resort. CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT - a system of government in which the functions of government are defined by a constitution. China. and Japan. and their powers may be broadened and narrowed by the central government. for example. is a unitary state. it effectively restrains the powers of the government and guarantees certain rights to the people. it is the will of the nation organized in th e state. (The states themselves are unitary. but it does need to have parameters that are Definition of Unitary System of Government A unitary system of government. Scotland.” Burgess describes it as “the unlimited and independent power of the state to command and compel obedience. Subdivisional units are created and abolished. followed communism as their statesponsored goal. including France.people. such as democratic. limited government.” According to Laski. it can have diplomatic and trade relations with any country.” Based on the above definitions. enact and enforce any laws or policies within its own territory. as its constituent countries — England. a form of government in which a written.” of the community. etc. such as the United States. Unitary states contrast with federal states. “ Sovereignty is the supreme power of the State over its citizens unrestrained by law.The power structure in such governments is often centralized and conservative. the rule of law. or partly written constitution serves as a higher or fundamental law that everyone. The defined and relatively unchangeable.

and (h) De Facto sovereignty. This means that neither within the state nor outside it is there any power which is superior to the sovereign. (ii) exclusiveness. when the United States and its allies occupied Iraq . Sovereignty is absolute and unlimited. sovereignty also lasts. No other authority within the state has this power. it receives orders from none of them. Another characteristic of sovereignty is exclusiveness. (d) Legal sovereignty.CHARACTERISTICS OF SOVEREIGNTY The following are the characteristics of sovereignty: (i) permanence. It means that the State alone possesses supreme power and is legally competent to compel the obedience of its citizens. to get people obey its orders or laws. In other words. In other words. TYPES / KINDS OF SOVEREIGNTY Sovereignty has been classified into different types : (a) Internal sovereignty. The authority of the state is supreme in all its internal matters. (vi) Absoluteness. for it is. sovereignty only shifts to a new bearer. For example. which they reside. The division. Sovereignty is also inalienable. (a) Internal sovereignty. (iii) all-comprehensiveness (Universality). it loses its sovereignty over the was transferred to the Iraqis soon after the elections. Sovereignty is an entire thing. The State and sovereignty cannot be separated from each other. (c) Popular sovereignty. So long as the State lasts. Hence. sovereignty shifts to the new government or ruler. a matter of international courtesy and the sovereign may at any time withdraw the privileges granted to those who (iv) Inalienability. In a Federal state. what the state proposes is right by mere announcement of intention. so is its sovereignty. foreign diplomats and ambassadors enjoy immunity from the control of the State in diplomatic community under the provisions of international law is not a real limitation on the State’s sovereign power. The state has the authority to issue orders or commands to all citizens and its will is subject to no legal limitation of any kind. no individual or group has the legal right to act against the decisions of the state. (v) Indivisibility. No one can be exempted or free from the allembracing authority of the State. It is in this sense that sovereignty is claimed to be permanent. It is the supreme power in a state and we cannot think of two or more states sharing sovereignty. without destroying sovereignty itself. (iv) Inalienability. area ceded. the abdication of a monarch or sovereign or a change of government does not mean the alienation of sovereignty – in this case. (g) De Jure sovereignty. The all-comprehensive and universal character of sovereignty denotes that within a State. Externally. When a state cedes a portion of its territory. if necessary. However. Sovereignty continues or remains uninterrupted by changes in government in a State. delegation or sharing of powers between the Central government and the state governments do not affect the idea of undivided sovereignty. (v) Indivisibility. (f) Titular sovereignty. associations and groups existing within the territory of the divide it is to destroy it. In other words. (ii) Exclusiveness. no sovereign can claim to be sovereign after transferring its supreme powers to another person. (b) External sovereignty. Within the state. there is no division of sovereignty as sovereignty rests with the Federal government. However. But sovereignty as an attribute of the State continues. the state is not subject to the control or domination of another state. (e) Political sovereignty. . But these extra-territorial privileges enjoyed by the after all. distribution. Internal sovereignty means that the state has complete legal and ultimate authority and control over all individuals and associations within its territory. there is no authority outside the state to which a sovereign is obedient or dependent. more than one state would exist. sovereignty shifted to them. the authority of the sovereign must extend to all persons. but later sovereignty Sovereignty cannot be divided. (iii) All-Comprehensivenes. the sovereign can make any law it pleases. In other words. When there is change of government or ruler. and (vi) absoluteness. The state can enter into any treaty or have relations with any other state it wishes. associations in the state and use force. They are subject to the laws of their own states. (i) Permanence. but the state remains for ever. the commands of the sovereign are binding on all persons and groups. It cannot be transferred or parted with. The reason is that if sovereignty is divided. Governments may come and go. It can even change the constitution itself. As the state is permanent. enjoy them. Acceptance of more than one supreme and ultimate power would affect the essential unity of the State. there cannot be more than one sovereign in a state claiming the legal obedience of the people.

The law of the land recognises only one authority. People can elect any leader or party they like to form the government. (i. in other words.” It is . Under the Federal Constitution. a de jure sovereign is one who is considered to be sovereign in the eyes of the law. in Malaysia parliament is the legal sovereign. Sometimes it may so happen that a legal sovereign may be replaced by force (during a military coup) or otherwise (when a ruler is seriously ill.(b) External sovereignty. For example. In a democratic country. It is not subject to conduct its own affairs according to its will. and some with groups who have the power to bring about changes in the government. Queen Elizabeth II is the de jure authority in the United Kingdom and Australia. Overthrow of Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff by Gen. Actual or real power is with the Cabinet." country should be carried on according to the public opinion prevailing in that country because the government exists for the exercise of the right of voting. responsible to the British parliament. in the is no other power or body of persons that can declare laws enacted by parliament (legislature) as ultra vires or invalid. while parliament may be the legal sovereign in Malaysia. They alone decide as to how the government should be run or administered. The government is formed (d) Legal sovereignty. The de jure sovereign is competent to issue the highest command of the state and it has the legal right to command obedience. there will always the possibility of a revolution. The state is free to (c) Popular sovereignty. the Communists became the de facto sovereign of China.e. The term "de facto" means something that does not exist in the eyes of the law (not recognised by law). The de facto sovereign is one who possesses the actual power. (e) Political sovereignty. he acts on the advice of the (g) De Jure sovereignty.e. the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is also a titular sovereign. Popular sovereignty means that the supreme power and the ultimate authority in the state rests with the people. Yet all orders and commands are issued in the name of the Queen (Her Majesty's Government). some with public opinion. de jure sovereign. For example. Some writers identify political sovereignty with the mass of the population. the real power authority. It is the power of the electorate that empowers parliament. In such cases. De Jure sovereignty is based on law. there is behind it the will of the people which is the ultimate and final source of all authority. External sovereignty means that the state is legally independent of other states. Pervez Musharaaf in Pakistan ( October 1999) that made Musharaaf the President of Pakistan. Perhaps the best example of a titular sovereign is the British Queen Elizabeth II. Some writers interpret legal sovereignty as the ability of a state to make its own laws or amend or repeal its own laws without limitations imposed by any outside authority. No state can interfere in the internal affairs of another state. etc) by another ruler or authority who exercises sovereign rights without a legal basis. If the wishes of the people are ignored. while the legal sovereign is the supreme law-making and law.Pertuan Agong is the de jure sovereign in Malaysia. the government of a good of the people. having merely a titular position in Malaysia. The Queen is the constitutional monarch of England. (h) De facto sovereignty. Overthrow of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (Shah of Iran) during the Iranian Revolution in 1979 that made Ayatollah Khomeini the Head of State. "De Jure" means "according to the law". To put it differently. He has only nominal powers. It is the authority from behind the parliament is the electorate. Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz taking over the . It alone declares in legal terms the will of the state through laws passed by it from time to time. For instance. By legal sovereign we mean “the person or body in whom resides as of right the ultimate power of laying down the general rules. The Yang di. some with the electorate (f ) Titular sovereignty. The decision of parliament is always influenced by public opinion. In short. In other words. The monarch has only nominal powers but no real powers. after the overthrow of Chiang Kai-shek in 1949. the person is called de facto sovereign. The term "titular sovereignty" is used to denote a king or queen who has no real powers but one who symbolizes the sovereign power of the state. Zia Ul-Haq in Pakistan (1977). popular sovereignty means government is run according to the will of the people through the by “the consent of the governed. Moreover. In Cabinet.enforcing whose verdict there can be no appeal. legal sovereign) although he may not exercise actual control over a territory or administer a government. The government should be held responsible to the people through periodical elections. United Kingdom the parliament is legal sovereign as it is the final and supreme law-making authority in that country. the control or domination of foreign nations. All powers are exercised on her behalf by the Ministers who are the constitutional system. It is for this reason that it is said that the electorate constitutes the political sovereign. the sovereign whom the law recognizes as sovereign. i. but is not recognised by law. There Similarly. there should not be unnecessary use of force by the state. Other examples of de facto sovereignty are: Overthrow of Prime Minsiter Zulfikar Ali Bhutto by Gen.

. It must be noted that generally the de facto sovereign becomes the de jure sovereign in the long run (either by formal appointment or through a general election).control of government administration in Saudi Arabia following a stroke suffered by King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz in 1995 - Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz was appointed monarch following the death of King Fahd on 2nd August 2005.

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