COMPPOL Paper - Staci Dratler Intro to Comparative Politics...

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Staci Dratler 10/13/07 Intro to Comparative Politics Democracy: Ever Expanding or Slowly Declining? Democracy has been the leading factor in the newly established composition of the political world since its introduction into modern society. All over the earth countries are changing their governmental systems to coincide with that of the democratic values and norms played out by countries such as England and America. Today democracy is defined in the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary as, “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system or representation usually involving periodically held free elections” (Merriam, 307). Democracy stands out across the globe as an opportunity, to many it is a chance to change lives. In the words of Philippe C. Schmitter and Terry Lynn Karl, democracy “is the word that resonates in people’s minds and springs from their lips as they struggle for freedom and a better way of life; it is the word whose meaning we must discern if it is to be of any use in guiding political analysis and practice” (Kesselman, 161). Although, “there is no consensus on how to measure democracy, definitions of democracy are contested and there is an ongoing lively debate on the subject” (, many authors have laid out the important aspects of democracy and how they have been used to create a successful political government. Robert Dahl in his essay “Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition” lists some requirements for a democracy among a large number of people. He states that in order to formulate preference, signify preferences, and have those preferences weighted equally, the public
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must be free to form and join organizations, possess the right to vote, and have available to them freedom of expression and alternative sources of information. He goes on to explain that a democracy permits free and fair elections, allows its people eligibility for public office and the political leaders to compete for support when running in any sort of campaign (Kesselman, 156). Dahl describes democratization as made up of two dimensions, public contestation and the right to participate (157). Along the same lines as Robert Dahl, but going slightly further, Philippe C. Schmitter and Terry Lynn Karl, in their essay “What Democracy Is … and Is Not”,
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COMPPOL Paper - Staci Dratler Intro to Comparative Politics...

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