Explain the 5 principles of democracy. 

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are no specific five principles that are universally acknowledged as the five principles of democracy.  In other words, different people can identify different principles of democracy.  Here is one possible way to list five principles of democracy.  However, as you can see from the link below, there are many other principles that are important to democracy.  It would be a good idea for you to look in your textbook and/or your class notes to see how your instructor wants you to answer this question.

  1. Consent of the governed.  Democracy is based on the idea that governments are only legitimate (they only have the right to rule) if they are based on the consent of the people.  People have to agree to be ruled by a government in order for it to be democratic.
  2. Representative government.  In a democracy, citizens have to be able to elect people to represent them in the government.  That allows the people to be in overall control of the government.
  3. Rule of law.  This means two things.  First, governments and government officials have to obey the law just like everyone else.  Second, it means that governments can only punish people for disobeying laws that are actually written down.  The government cannot make up rules on a whim and punish you for violating them. 
  4. Individual rights.  In a true democracy, people have to be guaranteed certain fundamental rights.  These are rights like the right to freedom of speech and religion. 
  5. Checks and balances.  A democratic government needs to have various parts (the US has three branches and two separate houses in the legislative branch) that can stop one another from acting in bad ways.  This prevents any one person or part of government from becoming dominant and dictatorial.

This is one way, but not the only way, to identify five principles of democracy.

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