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Journal – Week Three

In your own words, briefly describe the origins of democracy and political rights.

There are two main origins of democracy and political rights: 1) Greece and Rome, and 2) the rise of the Christian Church. For many, it is thought that Greece and Rome are the true origins of democracy, but the Christian Church cannot be ignored for the importance it played in shaping democracy.

In ancient Greece, there were communities (small communities) that allowed for the public to participate in government affairs, including making policy and making important governing decisions. Women, children, foreigners, and slaves were excluded from this process. However, over time we have seen how this has changed, especially for slaves and women.

Before democracy formed, it really was an outgrowth of human liberty. In other words, liberty ultimately led to democracy. Human liberty in a modern world is having certain human rights, such as freedom of expression, worship, and right to due process. In early Greek democracy an individual was subjected to the authority of the community and the individual’s rights were not sacred, nor protected.

The Catholic Church, as an institution, does not represent freedom or diversity of belief. In earlier times, and some would maybe still say today, that the Catholic Church was intolerant and oppressive, and the structure of the Catholic Church is steeped in hierarchy and rigid structure. The Catholic Church had a lot of control in the matters involving individuals, such as marriage, birth, and death. Church properties were not subject to taxation and the ultimately had a lot of ownership of property and were actively involved with the lives of the community.

Because of the control of the Catholic Church there were struggles between church and state and this started creating conflict and division between how the Catholic Church was involved in the lives of individuals, and the amount of involvement individuals wanted the church to have. The other notable situation that took place in England was with King John in the thirteenth century. There was a lot of upset over the rules that were developing and King John was ultimately pushed to sign a document, called the Magna Carta, stating that no one was above the law.

What elements are common to all democracies?
There are several elements that are common to all democracies, although the view of each may be different based on the overall belief and definition of each democracy:

Common Procedures:
Control over government decisions about policy
How elected officials are chosen
Voting rights of adults and their ability to run for elected office
How citizens are able to express themselves
How citizens obtain information
Citizens abilities to form independent associations, like a political party

Common Concepts:
Majority Rule
Parliamentary sovereignty
Party government

In a couple of sentences each, summarize the major constitutional choices states have.

Plurality: Countries that opt for a pluraility method in their election process most often have a two-party system. Under a two-party system there is a one-party government and executives that are in a dominant role in relation to their legislature.

Proportional Representation: Countries that opt for a proportional representation is most often associated with a multiple party system. Under the proportional representative structure you will find coalition governments and executives that are on more of an equal level to the legislative powers.…...

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