Conditions for Democratic Stability


Democracy is the political regime, which is based on collective decision-making method with an equal influence on the outcome and the participants of the process or on its essential stages (Coleman, Przybylska, and Sintomer 7). Although this method is applicable to all public entities, its most important application, the state, will be examined in this paper. In this respect, the democracy is usually narrowed to a number of features. It involves the appointment of leaders by people being conducted by competitive elections (Lectures 2016). Within democracy, the people are the only legitimate source of power. The society carries out self-government for the common good and meets common interests (Coleman, Przybylska, and Sintomer 7). As a rule, democracy is impossible without a relatively high level of welfare of citizens, the presence of certain spiritual traditions, and the relevant political and cultural reasons. Democracy must be prepared according to the socio-economic development of society. Also, it should serve the political design of the basic processes that occur in the social sphere. For its stability, democracy requires a number of social conditions and institutions and can be implemented fully only in the societies where these conditions exist.

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Conditions for Democratic Stability

Stability of democracy is correlated with socio-economic modernization. Welfare eases both public and private burden and improves the social structure. Education multiplies the number of educated professionals and increases the awareness of the population. Economic growth strengthens the middle class which for a long time has been considered a basis of stable and effective democracy (Coleman, Przybylska, and Sintomer 8). Democratic stability is a characteristic feature of the state of the political life of society. It is manifested in a stable functioning of all political institutions existing in society in compliance with legal, political, moral standards as well as in the most important social traditions prevailing in it, and in a peaceful resolution of conflicts, which generally allows this social system to function effectively and to develop while maintaining its structure and qualitative certainty (Coleman, Przybylska, and Sintomer 8).

Democratic stability is a complex, multifactorial, and multidimensional phenomenon. It presents a generalizing, integrated, and functional characterization of the quality of interaction between the main political actors, the efficiency of actions of the authorities, the ability of the political leadership and the society as a whole to respond adequately to the challenges of time and to solve urgent problems while maintaining the stability. Thus, the concept of democratic stability describes a system of relations between different political actors as well as common political structure of processes in the political system. It is the state of society which is characterized by the relative agreement of basic social and political forces on the goals and methods of social development and political life of the society as a whole (Coleman, Przybylska, and Sintomer 12). Enumerated conditions under which democracy remains an effective instrument of a free society show that it is always realized in a specific social context, that is not confined to universal suffrage and give power to the majority winning elections. A normal functioning democracy needs internal and external conditions. Internal ones include economic, social, political, and cultural conditions.

The Internal Conditions for Democratic Stability

Economic Conditions

An important condition for the effectiveness of democracy is a sufficiently high level of socio-economic development of society. In the last two centuries, the most important factor in the life of Western society has become the industrial revolution. It has led to a sharp increase in the urban population, transformation of the class structure, significant increase in the standard of living, education, healthcare, etc (Papadatos and Kawa 33). A high level of industrial and economic development of society as a whole and its urbanization allow it to get the material and spiritual benefits. It eliminates the state from the deficit, which is often present in non-democratic regimes. Moreover, it leads to an increase in urban population, which is more prepared for democratization than rural (Papadatos and Kawa 34). Another necessary condition for democratic stability which is associated with a high level of economic growth is the development of mass communication such as railways, roads, telephone, radio, television, press, etc. All this brings up the people to a greater extent and facilitates the process of participation in a democracy for them.

However, above all, economic conditions require the availability of market and competitive economy. Actually, democracy itself is a semblance of the political market with its competition and desire to make profit and sell ideas, views, programs, and positions. For the existence of such a policy, there should be the market distinction and, therefore, competition of political interests. They occur on the basis of various forms of ownership – private, public, joint stock, cooperative, and other kinds that exist in the marketplace (Papadatos and Kawa 38). Diverse forms of ownership not only differentiate the interests of citizens but also create the conditions for freedom of choice and the economic independence of a person (Papadatos and Kawa 38). Free choice can be carried out only by independent, economically free citizen. Conversely, when the means of production are monopolized, they are in the same hands, whether in the state’s ones or monopoly’s. However, those who work for this host never acquire freedom of choice.

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The market economy prevents the concentration of economic and political power in the same hands. Meanwhile, it does not matter who is the subject of the market, be it a private or collective owner. The main thing here is that they are endowed with the rules of free enterprise and management (Papadatos and Kawa 35). This position provides the autonomy and independence of the individual, encourages initiative to make choices, and takes responsibility for it.

Social Conditions

One of the main conditions for successful functioning of democratic mechanism is the existence of a stable civil society protected from unauthorized intervention by law. The social conditions of democracy include ensuring a relatively high level of welfare of citizens. High welfare allows to mitigate social conflicts, achieve consensus; it also contribute to overcoming social inequality. There is a large property polarization into the poor and the very rich within any society, and the democratic form of government is excluded. Democracy is also impossible if there is the egalitarian centralized distribution of benefits along with the general poverty and oppression.

It is particularly important in these circumstances for solid middle class to be present, which includes the wealthy and highly skilled citizens and, above all, the layer of entrepreneurs. The middle class is the basis and the core of stability in a democratic society. According to Gowder, it serves as a kind of anchor, which makes it impossible for society to go towards the dangers and social upheavals. However, the opinion that the homogeneity of society is a guarantee of stability and prosperity is wrong. The society is fraught with devastating social explosion since the imaginary unity leads to silencing of the conflict, its artificial containment, and accumulated power of destruction (Gowder, 67).

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People elect their representatives to ensure that the latter are accountable to them. Accountability is shown in an open criticism of politicians and periodic inspection by the election, and, if necessary, with the withdrawal of their posts. Therefore, democratic governance has limited character. However, the democratic regime is characterized not only by free and fair elections, rule of law, and separation of powers, but also by the protection of fundamental freedoms: speech, press, assembly, conscience, and property as well (Fukuyama 45).

Democracy presupposes the possibility of an open, unfettered debate in order for it to be based on a full awareness of the need for major human freedoms. It originates from a deep-rooted tradition, which seeks to protect the independence and dignity against coercion regardless of its source whether it is a state, church, or society. However, freedom is not a guarantee of democracy, but only one of the necessary conditions. Freedom of expression as well as freedom of assembly and association, acquires sense only if the word is heard by the authority, which is responsible to those whom it governs. In turn, citizens must demand freedom, which they subject to responsible criticism of the authorities if they do not like how the politicians act (Fukuyama 45).

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The democratic regime is realized in this way only if it represents the interests of the general population. The political elite and the government making decisions must govern in the interests of the majority of society but not for the benefit of a privileged minority. Social justice in a democracy involves humanity of the material conditions of the people’s lives. However, it should not be contrasting unequal for different groups of citizens. Democracy is based on the value of each person, thus committed to creating civilized living conditions for all citizens regardless of their wealth and talent (Lectures 2016).

The Political Conditions

The democratic regime can be considered as a political system, offering citizens the possibility of the regular and constitutional change of government by peaceful means of a majority decision. In practice, this allows people for the help of free parties and associations without any obstacles to take advantage of all common civil rights provided by legal guarantees and laid down in the legislation. Democracy also requires the existence of competing political parties (Lectures 2016). Besides, there is a need for written or unwritten constitution protecting freedom, human rights, and the constitutional state against the encroachment of the party’s majority temporarily staying in power. Democracy requires the separation of politics from economics and philosophical problems of separation of power and a well-functioning judicial system, etc (Gowder, 82). Complaints about the activities of the state apparatus can be transferred to legal entity independent from the government.

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One of the main conditions for democratic stability is a legal state. This state gives a person the protection against violence. The political conditions of democracy are the existence of the rule of law, civil society, total pluralism, development of political rights such as associations, voting, and candidate selection (Lectures 2016). Within the existence of these factors, the people may freely determine their interests, create associations and groups based on their interests, and express their attitude to authority through choice and control over them. Under the conditions when the government is trying to penetrate into all spheres of social life, there is no place for free expression of the citizens. It demonstrates the totalitarian system.

For the stability of democracy, the necessary aspect is that the citizens execute even those solutions power against which they object. It means that the minority obeys the will of the majority. The change of power occurs peacefully. The opposition not only has the right to express public disagreement with government policies, but it also operates strictly within the law. Consequently, one of the most important conditions for the stability of democracy is its legitimacy in the eyes of citizens. The legitimacy of the practice of democracy can be supported by its value and the equality of all participants in the process (Gowder, 82). The presence of common basic values plays an important role. It allows reaching an agreement in respect of the principles of political behavior. This helps to build trust between citizens, encourages them to comply with existing rules, and justifies the use of force to protect these rights.

Political freedom is a necessary condition for democracy; however, it is not sufficient by itself. There is no real choice where political life is weakly expressed. It is also impossible if election campaigns turn into a business dominated by financially wealthy people. If social inequality is so great that there is only a low level of awareness of civil status, then there is no political condition for democracy (Gowder, 84)

People’s government is the only democratic when citizens confirm confidence in their rulers by their voices in free elections. The idea of freedom of choice is not simply the absence of obstacles to competition between candidates. Moreover, democracy is not just a political adversary market. It implies the ability of each individual to act as a citizen. Each citizen has to directly relate the defend of the own ideas and interests with the laws or political decisions that provide the basic framework for a social life. There cannot be democracy where requirements and beliefs that arise in the minds of the citizens do not find adequate expression and the protection in the public sphere. Democracy can only be based on a twofold concern for the institution of government that can ensure social integration, thus leading to the realization of civil status, and to respect for the diversity of interests and opinions (Gowder, 85).

The Cultural Conditions

Among the conditions that are necessary for the establishment of democracy, an important place belongs to the cultural factor. A high level of culture, education, and literacy are directly related to the people’s competence of the political judgment, their intellectual development, freedom of thinking, and a sense of personal dignity. The lack of such education leads to irrational behavior, individualism, group selfishness, unwillingness to compromise. In addition, high level of culture contributes to the establishment of democracy according to the national traditions and national consciousness (Fukuyama 23). Moreover, with the technique of democracy, the phenomenon that can be called a democratic way of life is connected. The status of political freedom can be preserved only if the consciousness of freedom is constantly alive in the mass of the population, if it is always directed at all the realities of freedom, and if people care about how to save it (Fukuyama 23).

The combination of the democratic process and national culture protect society from the direct borrowing of someone else’s experience and provide the strength of democracy. It is a guarantee of public support. A very important catalyst of democratic processes is the high level of political culture. It forms a politically active person; thus, it accelerates the democratic process. Recognition of democratic principles, constitutional rights, and cultural values by society gives stability to the state during the crisis. At the same time, the absence of an effective legal system leaves the norms of the democratic society without the protection and creates the ground for abuse by the authorities, the political elite, and criminal gangs (Fukuyama 26). Democratic stability is correlated with interpersonal trust, tolerance toward unpopular groups, support of civil liberties, and political activity of the population.

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The External Conditions for Democratic Stability

Foreign Influence

The external political conditions also play an important role in the development of democracy. Firstly, these include the existence of a favorable international environment, friendly neighbors, the impact of the example, and so on. Secondly, they involve direct political, economic, cultural, and informational impact on society of any country. As an example of this, the spread of American-style democracy in some countries such as Germany, Japan, and Korea can be considered (Fukuyama 30). However, it should be noted that the introduction of the external social model (including democracy) will be strong and vital. Without any doubt, there is the need for establishing internal conditions; and it is a difficult and lengthy process.

Transition to Democracy from the Non-Democratic Forms

Any political stability has a temporal character which is determined by a period of effective functioning of the political system of society. The weakening of the political system, errors or failures in its work lead to the reduction in stability and, ultimately, to destabilization. The most dangerous and politically unstable issue for the life of any society is the transition period to radical changes, reforms, and revolutions. Meanwhile, the stability of the existence of democracy is greatly influenced by the way of the transition to it from the non-democratic forms of the organization of power. The minimal use of violence strengthens democracy. Conversely, it is impossible to create a viable democracy in a revolutionary way since the opposition comes to power and establishes even more repressive regimes (Fukuyama 34).

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All the above-mentioned conditions and factors together represent an ideal model of political stability. It is clear that the extent of their presence and implementation is different in real life. However, in all cases, the key conditions of political stability are the legitimacy, legality, and effectiveness of the existing regime. They include the political system of a society, availability of the necessary social base of support for government institutions, consent of the leading social and political forces on the basic goals and objectives of the country’s development. Consolidation of society on the basis of the generally accepted objective is extremely important. Timely resolution and the prevention of violent conflicts should be carried out. Also, there should be relevance and effectiveness of the ruling flow of political communication initiated by the authorities.


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