This chapter examines the key features of modern democracy, as well as its origins. It first explains what democracy means in the field of comparative politics, before discussing different models of democracy, including presidential democracy, parliamentary democracy, and democracies oriented towards consensus or majoritarian rule. It then describes the conditions—economic and political, domestic, and international—that allow some countries to become democratic but preserve others under the rule of dictatorships. In particular, it analyses the variables that facilitate the democratization of dictatorships and the factors that place democracies at risk of becoming authoritarian regimes. Finally, it reflects on the future of democracy and looks at the challenges that lie ahead for new generations of citizens.
This chapter examines the claim that democracy is the ideal form of political obligation. It first traces the historical evolution of the term ‘democracy’ before discussing the debate between advocates of the protective theory and the participatory theory of democracy, asking whether it is possible to reconcile elitism with democracy and whether participatory democracy is politically realistic. The chapter proceeds to explain why democracy is viewed as the major grounding for political obligation, with emphasis on the problem of majority rule and what to do with the minority consequences of majoritarianism. It documents the contemporary malaise experienced by democracy and seeks to explain its perceived weaknesses as a form of rule. Finally, the chapter describes the new directions that democratic theory has taken in recent years, focusing on four theories: associative democracy, cosmopolitan democracy, deliberative democracy, and ecological democracy.