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Daniel Prince
, Nigeria.
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Pillars of Democracy

Below are the 7 major pillars of democracy:

1. Legitimacy
Pillars that holds democracy from falling

Legitimacy simply means the acceptance and recognition of the power to govern given to the leaders. It is one of the major pillars of democracy because the absence of legitimacy means that the people did not legally assign political powers to their leaders to govern them.

Legitimacy cannot be achieved when there is no periodical elections, conducted to enable the people appoint their leaders. It should also be noted that the same way the people can Legitimately appoint their leaders, they can also legitimately remove whoever they want from power through impeachment or recall.

2. Separation of powers
Reasons for democracy

Separation of powers is another important pillar of democracy. It is the segmentation of government powers to sidestep the problem of dictatorship and tyrannical leadership. Usually, the segment of powers is between the legislature, executive and judicial pillars of the government.

So, instead of bestowing all political powers on one person of group of people or allowing just one arm of government to perform all government functions, powers and functions will be shared between the arms.

In most cases, the legislature will perform the law making function, the judiciary will perform the interpretation function and the executive will execute the law.

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3. Popular participation
Seven pillars of a democratic government

Democracy is unlike a monarchy where only persons from the lineage of the king or queen can rule. It is a system where everyone leads either directly or through representatives.

For this reason, opinion polls and consultations are regular activities when political decisions are to be taken in a democratic nation. Thorough research and debating are usually done within government representatives before government policies are reached or executed.

An example of a country where this is seen is the Nigeria. Before the government takes any political move there is usually a deliberation of it in the house of assembly to ensure that it is for the best interest of the people.

4. Periodic elections
meaning of democracy

Through period elections democracy is able to avoid dictatorship by leaders. When leaders are conscious of the fact that they were elected by the people and that they will leave office after certain period, they will be forced to act in accordance with the law and respect for the people's interest.

Periodic elections is one of the tenets of democracy that cannot be overlooked. It is very important because it is the key pillar of democracy and also an important feature of a democratic system as well.

Think about it this way; a nation that claims to be practicing democracy can not be said to be a true democratic nation if there is no period election. The essence of democracy is to avoid arbitrary rules and one of the way to ensure that is through periodic elections.

Also read: Major Characteristics of a good constitution

5. Checks and balances
democracy according to Abraham Lincoln

Checks and balances is a political theory and a very essential pillar of government. This theory posits that there should be a mutual oversight and limitation by the arms of government in order to prevent abuse of power.

I have already explained how separation of powers helps to foster democracy and fight against dictatorship in government. Now, the theory of checks of balances further helps to achieve that by allowing the arms of government to check the activities of each other.

Another reason for the theory of checks and balances is to curb excesses of power by one arm of the government. Thus, the judiciary can check the activities of the legislature or executive to see whether they are both acting under their assigned constitutional powers. In turn, the legislature can check the activities of others and the executive can also do the same.

Also read: Differences between offer and invitation to treat in contract law

6. Rule of law
What are the pillars of democracy?

Rule of law simply means supremacy of the law. It posits that the law is above everybody in a political system and thus, no arm of government, agency or organization is supreme.

The theory of rule of law was propounded by A.V Dicey. It is one of the greatest features and tenets of democracy because the dreams and aspirants of the people are contained in the law. This therefore makes the law Supreme even above the government itself.

It should be noted however that there are many factors that can actually limit the rule of law in a nation. Some of them includes: immunity of leaders, etc.

7. Fundamental human rights
Essential Pillars of a democratic government

The last important pillar of democracy is fundamental human rights. These rights are free given rights which are inalienable and immutable. Fundamental human rights are seen as one of the pillars of democracy because they protect the interest of citizens. Take for instance, the Universal declaration of human right ensures that member countries provide for the fundamental human rights of their citizens by entrenching it in the constitution.

These rights includes the right to life, right to freedom of speech, right to freedom of expression, freedom of movement etc.

Where these rights are not provided for in the constitution, then there is no true democracy because the interest of the people are not well protected.

Also read: Differences between Cross-offers and counter-offers

So far we have looked at the meaning of democracy, types of democracy, reasons for democracy and the pillars of democracy. Obviously this article has done justice in explaining the major pillars of democracy and how the help to safeguard and maintain the features of democracy in a nation. However, if you have questions or comments on this work, kindly leave it at the comment section below.


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