Assessing the Quality of Democracy in South Africa
Chapter Two. The ‘Quality’ of Democracy: Theoretical Explanation and Framework for Assessment
← 54 | 55 →
The ‘Quality’ of Democracy:
Theoretical Explanation and Framework for Assessment
Democracy is one of those concepts “the proper use of which inevitably involves endless disputes about their proper uses on the part of their users.”(Gallie, 1955-56: 169)
In Chapter 1 the research problem was set out and the term ‘democracy’ conceptualised. It was noted that it is extremely difficult to define what constitutes a ‘good’ democracy, given the term’s value-laden and normative character. Nevertheless, following a discussion on several traditional ‘Western’ conceptions as well as African emphasis of the term, a definition was synthesised and is recapped here as: a system of government based on free and fair competitive elections and the universal franchise; in which government is transparent, abides by the rule of law, and is accountable and responsive to the people for its performance both directly and through the institutions of parliament, the media and other agents of public opinion; and in which all citizens enjoy guaranteed equal civil, political (including participation in the political processes of the state) and socio-economic rights.
Having determined the definition of democracy to be used in this audit, it remains to define what is meant by ‘quality’. Considering the difficulty around defining a concept like democracy, is it even possible to universalise a concept of democratic quality? For that matter, what does it mean to assess the ‘quality’ of a democracy...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.