By Sebastian Lemos - Student of International Relations
Freedom and fairness. Two fundamental concepts which underlie the definition of a political system, which within itself also entails so much more than meets the eye. Complexity, competitiveness, and development to name a few. The democratic system is responsible for providing a majority of civilization with freedom today. Nonetheless, all things can’t be perfect. Despite its advantages, the inclusion of fairness must consecutively bring upon its disadvantages. However, this lack of perfection supplements the desire for growth – the ultimatum for the evolution of democracy.
To date, democracy isn’t impeccable, however, with the aspiration for growth as an understructure it’s important to implement control mechanisms in order to preserve what has already been constructed and avoid regression. In accordance with a publication “rule of law is a set of principles, or ideals, for ensuring an orderly and just society (...) where no one is above the law and everyone is held accountable (...)” (American Bar Association, n.d.).
Latin America can be used as an exemplar when discoursing about corruption in democracies. “In 2017, Brazil’s former president was convicted of trading government contracts for illegal kickback and was sentenced to imprisonment” (Dwyer, 2019). Without rule of law, this kind of corruption would make it difficult to exert opposition against high-ranking government members, and with these individuals in power it would pave way for democratic backsliding.
“Rule of law is more than simply the government and citizens knowing and obeying the law” (Rule of law Education Centre, 2021). It also includes a highly important factor which maintains the essential roots of democracy. Freedom within a political system comes in forms such as freedom of speech, thought (having a political opinion), belief, and conscience. It entails topics in accordance with basic human rights. In association with politics, it isn’t a democracy if society doesn’t participate.
On a report published by Freedom House, they state “it is important to foster a stronger public understanding of democratic principles, especially among young people” (Freedom House, 2020). It is important to first establish knowledge, in order to be able to advance social participation within democracies in relation to governments and their functions. This ties into the election ofthose in power, as another foundation of democracies is that they are selected by the people.
The previous paragraph states citizens should be properly informed when participating in politics. This, however, is only possible when the adequate government information is available. On that basis, a control mechanism which also constitutes rule of law and can define whether a democracy will thrive or collapse is transparency. If properly implemented, it avoids ways in which governments can manipulate their powers, and also avoid corruption. Munroe (2002) stated:
Of note are three regulations that were passed in the 1970s:
1. Requirements for there to be greater transparency in reporting financial contributions to politics. Since the 1970s, each party and each candidate is required to report all donations of over US$200. The names and the identities of political donors and their financial support are publicly known. Information regarding these donations can be viewed on the Internet. (p. 74). When former US President Nixon violated the law, there were demands for reform which thus brought upon the above example of how transparency can be a vital aspect in the development of democracies.
To conclude, the term democracy is a broad political system which entails multiple key components within itself. This, in turn, paves room for the concept of rule of law. It favors democracy in a positive way by solidifying a proper foundation, and relationship among the leaders of democratic political systems and its supporters – the citizens.