Beliefs Central to Democracy:

  • Decisions should reflect the will of the majority
  • Government is limited in its power and must respect people’s rights
  • Citizens should have a voice in decision-making
  • All citizens should have a sense of responsibility to other people and the community
  • Citizens should have a sense of what is socially just (good/fair for society)

Elements of Democracy:

  1. Rule of Law (Magna Carta) – both the government and the governed are subject to the law
  2. Political Equality – everyone is equal; one person/one vote
  3. Common Good – decisions are made for the benefit of everyone
  4. Personal Freedoms / Human Dignity – fundamental freedoms (speech, religion, etc.) = civil rights
  5. Political Freedoms – protect the right of citizens to participate in the political process
  6. Being informed and getting involved – democracy works best when the citizens are active and


  1. Respect – we must accept that not everyone has the same political views

Elements of  Autocracy (Authoritarianism)

Features of an autocratic government (totalitarian, fascist, communist):

  1. Total control of society – an attempt to dominate citizens’ public and private lives
  2. Instils fear through mechanisms of terror – military force; police brutality; secret service
  3. Controls media – censorship; government propaganda
  4. Official political ideology – mandatory for all;  dissent unacceptable/punished
  5. One political party – opposition parties may be deemed illegal or are ineffective
  6. Clearly defined internal (citizens) and external enemies
  7. Rule of Law does not exist
  8. History may be re-written to conform to government ideology;  traditional ideas/ways are replaced
  9. A new, ideal type of person is promoted (e.g. tall, blonde Aryan in WWII Germany;  the hard worker in a Communist country)

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