The word ”˜Democracy’ comes from two Greek words, demos, which means “people”, and kratos, which means “rule”. In a literal sense, democracy means “rule by the people”. It is a form of government with, as identified in an article I recently read, four key elements.
a) The rule of law that applies to all citizens, without exception,
b) The protection of the human rights of all citizens,
c) The active participation of citizens in politics and civic life, d) A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections.
It is not an exhaustive list, but I believe it captures the essence of what a democracy is.
The representative democracy we have here in Belize allows for our people to choose their leaders and to hold those leaders accountable for their policies and their conduct in office. It is true that much power is invested in the leaders (once elected) and they make numerous decisions on behalf of the people, and hopefully in their best interest.
However, the citizens always reserve the right to criticize their elected leaders and those who represent their interests and concerns. They reserve the right to express their opinions in a peaceful manner and with respect for the law and for the rights of others ”“ including those who may differ from them. This too is an essential part of the successful progress of any democracy.
It should be clear, then, that much of a democracy is built on the development of a meaningful relationship between the people and their elected officials and those who represent their best interests.