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Types of democracies

First we need to understand what’s an democracy. We can begin with its grass roots in Ancient Roman and Greek period, where the ruling of the society was done by the people (that’s where the word democracy comes Greek word Demos+Kratos = rule by the people). It’s considered the cradle of civilisation for the democracy.

Another key concept that we need to understand before going further into the topic of democracy is the separation of power principle. As the modern forms of governing are ruled by constitution, we have to remember it’s founding father Montesquieu which wrote in the Spirit of Laws that the political power should be separated into 3 divisions, each of them controling the others. Those are: The executive, the legislative and the judiciary system. Those should be independent and control each other without any mix in them.

During times there were many forms of democracies, but the main ones are:

  1. Direct democracies – are one of the 1st forms of democracies. It’s representative for a small to medium group of people who participate directly in government with classical instruments as referendums and others empowerment tools like promotion of civic engagement, continuing learning, self help etc.. Nowadays it’s very hard to apply this system because we are very much people, with different opinions, experiences and wishes. But it’s applicable in some of syndicates and political parties

  2. Representative democracies – are very spread in our modern system. It’s an indirect democracy where sovereignty is held by the people’s representatives. Its emphasis lies on protecting the rights of not only the majority of the people in the state, but also the minorities. We found out that there are many types of of representative democracies during our history, but the most used ones are the next

  • Presidential Democracy -  the president it’s elected directly by the people and besides being the head of state, he’s also the the head of government. He have extended powers and can be responsible with political capital if his electoral program it’s not fulfilled. Example of states (SUA, Argentina, Sudan)

  • Parlimentary Democracy – this type gives more power to the legislature and usually hear the parliament it the one that names the prime minister which is the head of the executive. The president have different powers than the prime minister and in the most cases, the president is either a weak monarch ( eg. UK) or a ceremonial Head ( e.g India)

  • Authoritarian Democracy – it’s an ruling system that promovate only elites as part of parliamentary process. Only the candidates that are chosen are allowed to participate in elections, and the regular people cannot enter. Therefore, in the end, it is only the ruling elite that decide on the various interests of the state’s population ( e.g. Modern day Russia under Vladimir putin)

Eventhough there are many other forms of democracies we tried to identify the principal ones and to summaries how they are functioning. It’s one of the best forms of governing that we made until presentes and it assures the representation of many interests, than the only one interest as in authoritarian forms of governing.

Lorenzo Saua

The Flaws of democracy

Democracy has its flaws when it comes to its purpose, its process, and its outcome

 

Purpose

  • Keeping things as they are

  • Continuing the oligarchy etc.

Process

  • Political Instability

  • Short terms

  • Corruption

  • Some parties suffer from incompatibility

  • Lack of Educated voters

  • The manipulation of public opinion

  • Limited representation

Outcome

  • Mob rule

  • Dictatorship of the masses

  • Impulsive decision making

  • A weak government which is inept to change the political reality of the voter

 

Democracy is always brought out to be as the perfect political system there is but most people fail to see that there are different versions of democracy (Athenian, Roman, Direct, Representative). When it comes to Western democracies corporate power and corporate representation always comes into the picture due to the Western Capitalist society and capitalist mentality

 

 

Quinten Bruggink

how the feeling of being minority can be overcome with the tools of democracy

 

YASSIR  is 18 years old, half Moroccan, half Dutch, born in the Netherlands. He doesn’t like the fact that the Dutch society associates Moroccan and the Muslim people living in the Netherlands mainly with negative things, like black economy dealers. He doesn`t like the extreme opinions, practices and classifications towards the Moroccan and Muslim people made by the politicians.

What is he doing to stand for his rights and beliefs using the tools of democracy?

He is well educated young person, studying Biology and Medical Laboratory Research, working in his free time. He is helping the community with youth work as well and also he was an Ambassador of the Freedom Festival 2017 and a Chairman of a Youth Council on provincial and municipality level.

JORIEN is 22 years old, born and living in the Netherlands. She is part of the LGBT-Community and she feels that this community is tolerated mainly on a theory level from the majority. She doesn`t feel a useful support from the society. 

 

What is she doing to stand for her rights and beliefs using the tools of democracy?

She is supporting the LGBT organization, she is working on a social farm where she disseminates human rights and she is a youth worker as well.

QUINTEN is 17 years old and he doesn’t believe in democracy because finds it too “messy“  and too soft. He shares social ideas in a capitalistic society. He is coming from the Eastern part of the Netherlands and he feels discriminated by the citizens of the Western part of the country. In order to be happy, he doesn’t share the Dutch values of money-making, calculating and saving, but he believes in love, compassion and empathy between people

 

What is he doing to stand for his rights and beliefs using the tools of democracy?

He tried to be a member of the youth council but he dropped because he felt like youngsters there try to copy the politicians and not be analytical with the political system. This Youth Exchange was his first non formal education activity which is a sign that he wants to involved and active in a democracy matter.

VIKA is 32 years old, born and rise in Lithuania, living in Denmark, currently working in the Netherlands. Her feeling of minority was triggered by a few aspects, as follows:

Firstly she had a financial limitation because she is the only one of her family who had access to education.

Secondly she comes from a very conservative, patriarchal and normative town in Lithuania where being a woman, but especially for being woman that is lesbian is not accepted.

Finally, she is an Eastern European girl working in the Western European world which leads to lots of misconceptions and limited access to some resources.

 

What is she doing to stand for her rights and beliefs using the tools of democracy?

She started taking any possible opportunity which opened to education, knowledge and self education. She also managed to study on her own and she started working when she was 18 to finish her education successfully.

She developed a self organization of the LGBT community in Lithuania by organizing different events and trying to involve and encouraging people that believe in this conception. She is founded the Youth Company in the Netherlands and also she does a lot of youth work at an international level, her job is accepted and respected as a good quality job among Dutch society. Vika organized LGBT youth exchange in Lithuania which product was Pride Week Festival.

LAURENTIU is 25 years old and is coming from Romania. He doesn’t really feel a minority but he shared his views in the minority crisis in the political system in his country. The small parties in Romania have almost no voice if they don’t cooperate with the big parties. So they exist and they represent minority electorate but at the same time they have decisional power.

OLGA is 28 years old and she is born in Greece and currently living in the Netherlands. She started to feel like part of a minority in her country because she was a lot about international topics and not so much on local topics. Now she is in a process of fitting in the Dutch culture and reality but she doesn’t feel Dutch. She considers herself a child of the world and seems like the lack of a specific cultural identification leads to permanent minority feeling.

 

What is she doing to stand for her rights and beliefs using the tools of democracy?

She is working as an active youth worker developing international projects including the youth.

SONJA is 17 years old living in Finland and she is interested in political topics, she is also interested in various topics and she feels misunderstood by the people of her age and sometimes she struggles to find a common ground.

 

What is she doing to stand for her rights and beliefs using the tools of democracy?

Sonja is a member of the youth council in Finland where she has the opportunity to be an active young citizen who cares for the development of the society.

Genka Katsarsaka

GRASSROOT initiatives

 

Young people all around the world can become change-makers. For this to happen, all they need is an idea, some good examples and a grain of boldness.

Here you can find cool stories about young people who decided to change something in their communities.

Bulgaria

Totka, the playground

 

Totka is the name of the new playground in our town. It is located next to the old tobacco store.

The Totka playground was upgraded. This happened on the basis of the wishes, needs and recommendations of local residents. It took about a month for this place to acquire a new look. The official cut of the tape took place on 2 June.

Samokov is part of the 10 cities that have been given the opportunity to change the appearance of some of their public spaces. Usually, the place to be chosen is central, multifunctional, and familiar for more people. In Samokov this is the site of the tobacco warehouse.

Thus our city in Bulgaria became part of the so-called PlaceMaking movement known in Europe and the US. Usually, such kind of movement involves the citizens themselves or those living nearby.

This is thanks to the support of the BG Buddy Association. The project for Samokov is implemented by the SEED Foundation, with the governor.

The creation of the new Totka  was attended by a large group of children and adolescents who used their free time to paint, clean and assemble urban furniture.

Finland

The normal day

 

Normipäivä or normal day  is a music event in Hamina created by the youth council, youth services and local busineses. 

The first normal day was in 2017 with artists like Aste (a finnish rap singer) and dj Hutch. The concert costed 5€ but in addition there were snacks and non alcoholic drinks on sale in the venue. The event was intoxication free and people of all ages attended even if the event was targeted to youth.

Because the event was very popular, it was remade in 2018 with new artists like Mäkki and Nikke Ankara. Once again the event was intoxication free.

In addition, the concert didn’t cost anything and anyone could attend. In 2018 the event kicked off well and we had over 1000 visitors.

Netherlands

Boyan went big

The Ocean Cleanup is non-government engineering environmental organization based in Netherlands, that develops technology to extract plastic pollution from the oceans. The organization was founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat, a Dutch-born inventor-entrepreneur of Croatian origin who serves as its CEO.

Boyan was a student at Delft university when he created the organization. By 17, he became known for presenting in a TED talk an ingenious system he invented in order to keep the oceans clean.

Since inception, the organization have primarily worked to realize the cleanup system first proposed by Boyan Slat in 2012, consisting of a floating barrier located in the ocean gyres.  Significant changes to the design of the system have been made since 2012.

In September 2018, The Ocean Cleanup launched its first cleanup system, and in October 2018, it was declared operational and deployed in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Ocean Cleanup claims that 60 of such systems will be able to clean 50 % of the plastic in the patch in 5 years.

The organization also conducts scientific research into oceanic plastic pollution. It has conducted two expeditions to the North Pacific Gyre, and publicized several scientific papers.

ROMANIA

Ana and the young teachers

Step Up is a personal development project for kids aged 10 to 13. The projects takes place in Iasi, a city in Romania. The workshops were made entirely by a group of adolescents. They started with workshops on art, public speaking, personal development and engineering.

Ana – who is by now a student – took part in 2017 in ‘Oxford for Romania’, a summer school organized by a group of Romanians from UK, who want to offer the Romanian young people a complete learning experience. There, she followed all the classes that she wanted.

Few months later, she was back in her hometown, already making a team with other friends: the Step Up team.

In December 2017, they shared 300 questionnaires in schools. They asked the kids what would they want to learn. They received answers such as mining, crafting, ancient civilizations, or how to control emotions.

In April 2018, they prepared the workshops and in July the Step Up school started. The funds were raised through the organization of talent nights and other activities. Young people from different organizations design and facilitate the workshops.

‘I like origami, to solve Rubik cubes and to think. I like thinking about time and about universe.’ This was the tiny speech of a shy 12 years old boy, at a public speaking workshop.

Step Up grows every month more and more. The kids start to involve emotionally in the activities . They interact more easily, they are more open and they become more kind.

Ana is proud of them, and she can’t wait to know what’s next. 

 

Maria Balea

Voting in democracies

 

The main tool for decision-making in democracy is the vote. The moral justification of democracy is that all people are equal, therefore they should be equal also from a political point of view. One of the forms that this idea has taken in practice is the vote. In national democracies, this means that each citizen has the right to vote, and the vote of one single citizen counts as much as the vote of any other citizen, regardless of sex, occupation or material state.

 

Things have not always been the same. In the ancient Greek city-states for example, the poor, the women and the non-Greeks were excluded from this practice. In Rome, the concept of citizenship was more broad. Still, many citizens were not able to use their right for all decisions, due to practical reasons such as lack of resources or distance from Rome, where all decisions were made. Forms of votes have been present in cities in Italy and Switzerland during the Middle Ages, and also in the assemblies of the Vikings. All of them were pretty restrictive regarding who was actually able to vote. Voting as we know it today is a very recent achievement. Only 40 years ago, there were still European countries in which women did not have the right to vote. Moreover, in spite of the formal political equality that voting confers to all of us, there are other challenges that have to be surpassed, sometimes so big that people tend to perceive voting as irrelevant Economical inequality, for example, can be an obstacle for political equality.

 

There are two main voting systems (electoral systems): proportional and first-past-the-post. Proportional means that each party/candidate will receive the number of seats proportional to the number of votes they received. This systems usually results in multi-party systems. First-past-the-post means that the party/candidate with a plurality of votes wins. It usually results in two-party system. Both electoral systems have their supporters and their critics. They can also be combined in order to obtain other electoral systems.

 

For a vote to reflect the equal value of each person, some criteria must be accomplished:

  • elections should be free, fair, and frequent

  • all voters should have an equal opportunity to express their views and be able to influence the political agenda

  • voting should include all adults capable of making decisions on their own

  • voters should be informed  on the decisions they are about to make

 

To the extent that all these requirements are respected, the members of the community will be politically equal.

Voters’ manipulation, disinformation, economical inequality, discrimination, distrust in politicians or lack of alternatives, all these factors can be disruptive for the voting process. And from formal equality to authentic political equality is indeed a long way to go.

However, we must not forget that getting here was not easy, nor fast, nor should mean that things cannot change anymore – for better or for worse.

Maria Balea

We asked participants if they learned some new words during the exchange. See the terms with their explanations here:

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