What are some rights that citizens enjoy in a democracy? 

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is no official list of all the rights that people must have in order for their government to be a democracy.  Therefore, different people could give different answers to this question.  In general, though, a government is only democratic if it guarantees that its people will have the right to make their voices heard on political issues and that they will have the right to live their lives as they wish.

In general, the citizens of a democracy have to have rights that allow them to have a say on political issues.  This means that they have to have the right to vote.  It also means that they have to have the right to freedom of speech.  If people cannot say what they think about the government or about various political issues, their country is not very democratic.  The people also have to have the right to be informed about their government and their society.  Therefore, a democracy needs to have freedom of the press so that the media can help people know what their government is doing and what problems exist in their society.  If a government does not grant these rights, it is not democratic.

Democracies also generally have to protect their citizens’ rights to live their lives as they wish.  What this means is that the people should have the right to freedom of religion.  They should have the right to live wherever they want to (and can afford to).  They should have the right to dress as they wish and listen to whatever music they want to listen to.  In other words, in a democracy, the people should be able to, within reason, do whatever they want to do and believe whatever they want to believe.

If a government protects all of these rights, it is certainly democratic.  If it protects only some of them, it is less clearly democratic.    For example, what if a government allows people to vote but tells them they must dress in certain ways because of the religion of the majority of the citizens?  Is that country democratic?  It is impossible to say for sure because there is no set list of rights that all people have to have in every democracy.  However, in general, the people in a democracy have to have the right to participate in politics and the right to believe and do whatever they want.

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