What are real life examples (countries or states) of the different models of democracy? a) Protective democracy b) Classic democracy (based on Athens) c) Developmental democracy

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In political theory, a protective democracy is one that is tasked primarily with maintaining and protecting the rights of its citizens. This ideal is fundamental to late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century liberalism, where it is associated with the writings of John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham, among others. Under this model, the government would only intervene in the lives of its citizens, and especially in the operations of the free market, in a very limited way. The United States, whose people and leaders are very reluctant to embrace social welfare programs and government control of key industries, has historically been a pretty good example of a protective democracy. Basically, protective democracy assumes that the only reason government should exist is to protect its citizens from each other. People would only, then, get involved in civic life in order to protect their own interests. 

A developmental democracy has a somewhat more benign view of human nature, and how it is reflected in people's participation in government. According to this theory, people participate in government out of a sense of civic-mindedness, what some political philosophers used to call virtue. According to this idea, our representatives must be truly representative, in that their actions in government should be consistent with the public will and the public good. This is, perhaps, how Americans understand their government, and it might be best used to describe local government, where individuals are elected to represent wards, precincts, or districts according to what their constituents want. 

The first two categories were used by the political scientist William E. Hudson in his book Democracy in Peril, published in 2006. Classical democracy was not one of his categories, but it is usually used to describe the democratic system created in ancient Athens. In this system, citizens directly participated in government. Government officials were chosen by drawing lots, and all citizens were expected to contribute their voice directly to city politics. Of course, only a very small percentage of the Athenian people were actually citizens, so this ideal falls short of even our modern conception of democracy. But we can see echoes of this model in towns that are still run by town meetings (there aren't very many of them left) or even in local grassroots organizations that make decisions for neighborhoods.


ayanna76 | Student

In general a protective democracy is based on the idea that there are some inherent inequalities that can and must be corrected by governmental interference. The United States, although imperfect in many ways, is a real world example of a protective democracy in that is a built upon a system of checks and balances for each branch of government. The executive, legislative, and judicial systems all require some level of vetting or checking by the other and none of these branches can act without potential consequences from one or both of the others. For example, the legislative branch can pass a law but the executive branch can veto this law, or the judicial branch can deem this law contrary to the Constitution and the law becomes invalid.

A classic democracy or Athenian type democracy relies on direct participation of citizens. The mark of direct democracy most important to note is that there is no interference in the interaction between citizens and voting.  Local county governments in the United States are an example of this in terms of ballot measures.  A direct question is asked of the public, such as "should tax money be spent to improve a specific highway", and citizens then vote yes or no.  The measure is passed based on the number of votes it receives that indicate the choice of the public.

A developmental democracy focuses on the direct moral improvement of the citizens and the inclusion and protection of the rights of individual in the democratic process. A modern day example would be the town halls that many United States cities and towns have begun to reintegrate into their political processes.  This involves the thorough explanation of a topic to be voted on, a question and answer period where citizens can ask direct questions of their legislators and then voting upon those referendums that were presented.  

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