Monday, June 28, 2004

Teaching Democracy. I just read that Iraq was handed sovereignty back today. I wish the people of Iraq well. What they do with the freedom that has been given to them is in their hands now. This article by John Patrick on teaching democracy seems apt today. Let's hope the Iraqi people learn and live as a free democratic people respectful of their neighbors and members of minority ethnic and religious groups.

From the site:

During the past 30 years, there has been a global surge of democracy. For most people of the world today democracy is the prevailing source of political legitimacy. This ERIC Digest discusses (1) the status of democracy in the world, (2) a globally applicable conception of democracy, (3) components of education for democracy, and (4) recommendations on how to teach democracy.


There is a broad international agreement today on a minimal or threshold standard by which to judge whether or not a regime is a democracy. This minimal criterion is the regular occurrence of free, open, fair, and contested elections by which an inclusive citizenry selects its representatives in government. Thus, there is government by consent of the governed in which the people's representatives are accountable to the people (Huntington 1991, 7; Karatnycky 2002, 722).

In 2002, 121 of the world's 192 sovereign states could be recognized as democracies in terms of the minimal global standard for an electoral democracy. The collective populations of these electoral democracies accounted for 64.6% of the world's population (Karatnycky 2002,7). By contrast, in 1900 there was not even one country in the world that met today's minimal global standard for democracy. In 1950, there were only 22 authentic democracies comprising 14.3% of the world's population. By the end of the twentieth century, however, there was a dramatic global trend toward electoral democracy as communist regimes and other types of autocratic or authoritarian systems withered and died (Karatnycky 2002).

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