Merits of Democracy: Democracy is the best form of government. Its merits are as follows:
1. Ethical Defence:
Democracy recognizes the worth of a man. It rejects the right of one or a few to rule over the others. Under democracy the community as a whole is the custodian of sovereignty of state.
Dewey says, “The foundation of democracy is faith in the capacities of human nature, faith in human intelligence and in the power of pooled cooperative existence.”
2. Common Welfare:
It is, therefore, only in democracy that common welfare can be promoted. The government will respond to the needs of all since power of sovereignty vests in all. Those who are excluded from power are also denied the privileges of power. It is only in democracy that a citizen is at once the subject and the ruler and “just government is government by consent of the governed.
” As J.S. Mill puts it, “the participation in governmental affairs lifts the individual above the narrow circle of his egotism and broadens his interests. Democracy makes an individual interested in his country and gives him a sense of responsibility.”
3. Rule of Law:
It is only in democracy that the rule of persons and classes is replaced by the “rule of law”; where fundamental rights are guaranteed and treated as limitations upon the government.
4. Democracy develops the Spirit of Patriotism:
As J.S. Mill puts it, “Democracy strengthens the love of country because citizens feel that the government is their own creation and the rulers their servants rather than masters”. This conception imbibes in them the spirit of patriotism and nationalism.
5. Responsible to the People:
A democratic government cannot become tyrannical or arbitrary as a monarchy or an aristocracy can. It is subject to regular and constant criticism and popular pressure. It alone provides responsibility of the rulers. The party in power can retain power only by invoking the sanction of popular support which can be possible only if it serves popular interests.
The opposition parties keep a check and watch upon the ruling party. The latter has always to explain its policy and convince the electorate of its soundness. All decisions are to be arrived at by discussion, argument and persuasion. Democracy avoids suppression of thought and action.
6. Peaceful change of Government:
People have a right to change the government peacefully. No other form of government provides such mechanism. It thus avoids violent revolutions and provides for flexibility. As Dr. Lindsay observes, “A democratic society sure of itself can be indefinitely elastic in its methods.
It can as in a time of crisis, give enormous powers into the hands of government, in cheerful confidence that, the crisis past, it can take them away.
” All other forms of Government are rigid and can only be thrown away through violent revolutions or revolt. History is replete with examples when absolute government had to face popular wrath in form of rebellions and revolts.
It ensures equality and liberty. There are no ruler and ruled. All are citizens. People can live and regulate their lives according to their needs and choice. The will of the state comes to be in accord with the general will.
John Stuart Mill rightly says that in democracy “the whole people or some numerous portion of them exercise the governing power through deputies periodically elected by them.” All the people equally participate in the exercise of the sovereign power.
8. More obedience to laws:
Since laws are made by popular legislatures through the elected representatives of the people, the people would render unflinching obedience to such laws.
These laws would not be a command of the sovereign but would reflect the needs and respond to the impulses of the people.
Democracy has an immense educative value. J.S. Mill rightly pointed out that a citizen who has no vote is either a malcontent or an indifferent citizen.” Citizens in democracy participate in the election of parliaments in the process of law making, and in the execution of laws.
The ruling and opposition parties constantly educate the people. The voter gets many opportunities to be politically educated at panchayat, local, provincial and central levels.
10. Stable Government:
Democracy serves as a training school for citizenship; it strengthens patriotism and thereby minimizes the possibilities of discontent and revolutions.
As Gettle says, “Popular intelligence and virtue are its most valuable results. Popular election, popular control and popular responsibility ensure not only efficiency in government but also stability in the state.”
Democracy is a self Government. It is a government of the people, by the people, for the people. People are more satisfied and contented in a democracy as they are directly or indirectly associated with the affairs of the state.
People prefer self-government to any other form of Government (Dictatorship or Monarchy) even though that may be more efficient. “Efficient Government is no substitute for self-government.”
12. Guarantee of Freedom:
Democracy implies the recognition of the duties of the Government and rights of the people. It postulates a measure of personal freedom and equal consideration for all the people. As J.S. Mill puts it, “Democracy is superior to other forms of government because the rights and interests of every person are secure from being disregarded”.
13. Democracy against Psychology of Power:
In democracy, there is very little chance of working of psychology of power since the government is amenable to the control of the people who can change them at any moment. In all other forms of Government, the rulers are liable to become power-lords and tyrants.