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midterm study guide - POSC 120: Midterm Study Guide 7. What...

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POSC 120: Midterm Study Guide 7. What are the basics of democracy? Do you think all of them are equally important? Which in your opinion are more critical for a democracy? There is no commonly accepted definition of what a democracy is. However, all serious observers include at least the first three features listed next. The last two are more controversial. The basics of democracy are guaranteed rights, conducting competitive elections, a rule of law, civil society and civic culture, capitalism and affluence. Rights: Democracy guarantees basic individual freedoms of press, religion, association, and speech. - Most observers are convinced that people cannot participate effectively in making the decisions that shape their lives unless those rights are guaranteed. - Countries express these rights in different ways. For example, these and other rights are affirmed in the first paragraph of the fifth republics constitution and in the Basic Law of Germany. Even where they are not included in a constitution, such as Great Britain, they are deeply ingrained in the culture. Competitive Elections: - As important as the basic right to civil liberties and the reliance on the rule of law is t require m e nt that the govern m ent b e chosen through regular, free, and fair elections which people can choose b etwe en two or m ore candidates and/or political parties. - Simply holding elections is not enough. - Does not apply if voters only h ave a single candidate to vote for. - Electoral a nd p arty syste m s in industrialized de mocracies are not all alike. - Differences exist b ecaus e the industrialized d e mocracies are divided along different l which reflect their histories. - Electoral Syste ms: ways of counting votes a nd allocating s e ats in their national legislatures. The Rule of law: - Related to civil liberties is the rule of law, which m e a ns that people are governed by clear and fair rules rather than by the arbitrary, personal exercise of power. What the a nd cannot do is spelled out in constitutions a nd ordinary laws. - As a result people can expect to be treated fairly by the govern m ent both in their rou d e alings with the stat e a nd on those rare occasions they co m e up ag ainst it.
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Civil Society and Civic Culture: - Stable democracies have a civic culture in which people accept not just the rules of th   political game but the elites who lead them.   - A civil society is evident in Britain and the US, in that people tend to Be “joiners” who   belong to many social and political groups that tie them to their civil society, bringing   them into contact with people from a variety of social, economic, and political   backgrounds. -
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midterm study guide - POSC 120: Midterm Study Guide 7. What...

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