Władza ludu czy elit politycznych? Próba zdefiniowania współczesnej demokracji

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Wydział Nauk Politycznych i Dziennikarstwa UAM

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Power of the people or of the political elite? An attempt to define modern democracy


Taking into consideration the etymology of the concept, it seems obvious that democracy stands for the power of the people. It needs to be borne in mind, however, that the concept of democracy was coined in Antiquity and served to describe the political reality at the time. The premises and practice of modern democratic states have considerably diverted from the ancient model. It therefore seems justifiable to ask whether democracy continues to stand for the power of the people. From the point of view of Ch. W. Mills, for instance, the power of the people is an idealistic intention and a noble postulate rather than a realistically achievable political phenomenon. He is not alone in this opinion. Therefore, the question arises of how to define modern democracy. Bearing in mind the considerable variety of current democratic states, it can be assumed that modern democracy is a system where the authorities are publicly accountable to the citizens, who act by means of elected representatives that compete and cooperate with one an- other. In other words, democracy is the power of a political elite controlled by the people via cyclical, competitive elections. Direct democracy needs to be highlighted here, as it is considerably closer to the etymology of the word ‘democracy’ and its Greek roots. Apart from Switzerland, however, the instruments of direct democracy are tools construed not for the citizens but rather for an opposition that can use them in order to build their position. In this manner the institutions that, by definition, should belong to the citizens have become instruments used by the political elite.




władza, lud, elity polityczne, demokracja


Przegląd Politologiczny, 2013, nr 1, s. 69-82.



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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego