At the meetings, the ekklesia made decisions about war and foreign policy, wrote and revised laws and approved or condemned the conduct of public officials. Ostracism, in which a citizen could be expelled from the Athenian city-state for 10 years, was among the powers of the ekklesia. The group made decisions by simple majority vote.
The second important institution was the boule, or Council of Five Hundred. The boule was a group of men, 50 from each of ten Athenian tribes, who served on the Council for one year. Unlike the ekklesia, the boule met every day and did most of the hands-on work of governance. It supervised government workers and was in charge of things like navy ships triremes and army horses. It dealt with ambassadors and representatives from other city-states.
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Its main function was to decide what matters would come before the ekklesia. In this way, the members of the boule dictated how the entire democracy would work. Positions on the boule were chosen by lot and not by election. This was because, in theory, a random lottery was more democratic than an election: pure chance, after all, could not be influenced by things like money or popularity. The lottery system also prevented the establishment of a permanent class of civil servants who might be tempted to use the government to advance or enrich themselves.
However, historians argue that selection to the boule was not always just a matter of chance. They note that wealthy and influential people--and their relatives--served on the Council much more frequently than would be likely in a truly random lottery. The third important institution was the popular courts, or dikasteria. Every day, more than jurors were chosen by lot from a pool of male citizens older than There were no police in Athens, so it was the demos themselves who brought court cases, argued for the prosecution and the defense, and delivered verdicts and sentences by majority rule.
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There were also no rules about what kinds of cases could be prosecuted or what could and could not be said at trial, and so Athenian citizens frequently used the dikasteria to punish or embarrass their enemies. Jurors were paid a wage for their work, so that the job could be accessible to everyone and not just the wealthy but, since the wage was less than what the average worker earned in a day, the typical juror was an elderly retiree. Since Athenians did not pay taxes, the money for these payments came from customs duties, contributions from allies and taxes levied on the metoikoi. Around B.
But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present. In around B.
Most of all, Pericles paid artisans to build temples An ambiguous, controversial concept, Jacksonian Democracy in the strictest sense refers simply to the ascendancy of Andrew Jackson and the Democratic party after How will it end? Who was the first man? Where do souls go after death? Beginning in the eighth century B. Finally, living in a democracy is important because democracies are the most statistically significant factor in reducing inter and intra state conflict.
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Director of Policy Studies at the Kroc Institute David Cortright and his colleagues conducted a study to determine the validity of democratic peace theory and examine how regime type relates to violence. They concluded that democracies are much less likely to both engage in war with other states and to participate in civil wars. This is likely because war, in any form, is politically unpopular as it costs human lives, which thus incentivizes democracies to avoid it at all costs.
Civil wars in particular are unlikely in democracies because democratic governments function as a safety valve for discontent; while disaffected civilians living in democracies can express their grievances in the form of free speech or exercising their right to vote, citizens living in autocracies have no choice other than violence if they hope for governmental change because they lack political power.
Cortright also cites Rudolph Rummel's book Death By Government , in which Rummel finds that autocratic regimes are three and a half times more likely to commit genocide than democratic regimes. Cortright suggests this is a result of the prevalence of exclusionary ideology that is reinforced by authoritarian regimes in comparison with democratic ones. Some may argue that autocratic governments are preferable to democracies because they are more efficient.
It is true that autocratic regimes are able to pass and implement policies in a more timely manner.
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However, the power of democracy lies in its ability to gradually change. Complex issues should not be swiftly and unilaterally decided by one ruler; they should be debated upon by large groups of people examining both sides of the issue until the majority is able to find a consensus.
Another common criticism of democracy that proponents of autocracies present is the lack of expertise of voters. While every voter is certainly not an expert on every topic, democracies encourage citizens to learn more about the world around them by creating a mutual responsibility between each voter and his or her nation, and by extension, his or her world.
Democracies motivate voters to do research on important candidates and policies, whereas non-democratic governments foster political apathy because one's opinions have no impact on the world around them.
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The Varieties of Democracy Report concludes that one third of the world's population lives in a country in which democracy is declining. Even more frighteningly, the Freedom House reports that the global freedom index decreased for the twelfth successive year.
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Those are the optimists. Pessimists fear the game is already over, that democratic dominance has ended for good. I fall on the side of the optimists.
In the face of the global decline of rule of law, freedom of the press, equal representation, separation of powers and freedom of speech, democracy will be resilient—but only if we fight for it. The time is now to advocate for a more democratic world, and many are taking up the cause. Countries such as Ethiopia are experiencing democratic reforms as the new prime minister has freed political prisoners and promised more fair elections.
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