Democracy is a process exercised
between the majority and the minority of the voters . To identify the majority from the minority, democratic systems conduct
fair and free elections .
In democratic practice , therefore , the majority rules, and the minority struggles to make itself the majority . In this process , the majority accepts and promotes the basic human rights of the
For me , free and fair election is the prerequisite for democracy because it creates a government that represents the majority and government the right to implement suitable policies that do not exclude minorities. In such a way , a nation’ s wealth is distributed fairly .
In an interview with Al Jazeera regarding the overall situation of the country, including the latest national election ,
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn defended his government ’ s human rights record by saying those who
accuse his government are all trying tovimpose ‘ neoliberal’ criteria . Unfortunately,
he used the same ‘ neoliberal ’ criteria to announce the per capital income ( amazingly the Premier announced our
per capital income has reached 640
million dollars ) . In addition, the Prime Minister told Al Jazeera “democracy is not only election ”.
As far as my understanding goes , the premier seems to think that the nation’ s economic development is what democracy
means. What he misses is that
democracy which is instinctive to free and fair elections , is aprecondition for nation’ s involvements in economic development.
By what lawful right could one group or party carry out developent activities? By what lawful right could one group or party manage and disseminate a nation’s wealth for citizens in one way or the other?
I think these questions not only indicate the relationship between free electionsand development , they also reflect the reasons behind income inequality among
the people . Above all , they indicate the big picture of democracy reflected withfree and fair election .
Citizens and effective states lay at the core of power and politics. By ‘ citiens ’ I mean anyone living in a particular place , even if they are not formally eligible to vote, such as children . By ‘ effective states ’ , I mean states that can guarantee security and the rule of law , design and implement effective strategies to ensure inclusive economic growth , and are accountable to and able to guarantee the rights of their citizens.
At an individual level, active citizenship means developing self – confidence and overcoming the insidious way in which the condition of being relatively powerless can become internalized . In relation to other people , it means developing the ability to negotiate and influence decisions. And when empowered individuals work together , it means involvement in collective action , be it at the village or neighborhood level, or more broadly .
Ultimately , active citizenship means engaging with the political system to build an effective state , and to assume some degree of responsibility for the public domain , leaving behind simple notions of ‘ them ’ and ‘ us ’ . Otherwise, in the memorable phrase of the French philosopher Bertrand De Jouvenel , ‘ A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves ’ .
Feeling that one has a right to something is much more powerful than simply needing or wanting it . It implies that someone else has a duty to respond .
Rights are long- term guarantees, a set ofbstructural claims or entitlements thatbenable people , particularly the most vulnerable and excluded in society , to make demands on those in power , who are known in the jargon as ‘ duty –
bearers ’ . These duty – bearers in turn have a responsibility to respect , protect , and fulfill the rights of ‘ rights- holders’ . Rights , therefore , are naturally bound up with notions of citizenship participation, and power.