Characteristics of a Democratic Society

Identifying a Democratic Society

The Australian political system also accommodates democratic values. Democracy is a form of government that allows for citizens’ representation in government. It has been described as the best form of government because of the numerous benefits it offers. The features of the democratic society include:

Periodic Elections

The ability to elect people to lead you is the hallmark of a democratic state. It is why it is defined as the people’s government, by the people and for the people by Abraham Lincoln. It is also called a representative government.

Elections are organised periodically depending on the provision of the constitution on the subject matter. In Australia, elections are conducted every three years. Lastly, only a person of at least 18 years of age can vote during elections.

Separation of Powers

Baron de Montesquieu popularises this concept. It means power is concentrated in various organs of government. These organs of government are legislative, executive and Judiciary. The legislature is vested in making laws while the executive implements these laws, and the Judiciary interprets the laws.

The concept presupposes the idea of checks and balances. That is the ability of an organ of government to check on the excesses of the other. These two principles seek to avoid dictatorship and, most importantly, abuse of power.

In a presidential system of government, the legislative must submit laws to the president for consent, and the legislature also reviews the appointment of ministers by the president. It can even impeach him through proper procedures. Likewise, the selection of judges by the executive is subject to the approval of the legislature.

Nonetheless, Australia does not operate express separation of powers. It runs a parliamentary system at the centre, and thus, executive responsibilities and legislative duties are carried out by a unit. However, the Judiciary operates independently to a more considerable extent of this unit.

The Rule of Law

The principle of the rule of law is just three. They are the law’s supremacy, equality of all persons before the law, and fundamental human rights. These three are essentials of a democratic setting. First, the constitution is supreme and binding on all persons. Secondly, no one is above the dictates of the law. The third is that a democratic state preserves the rights of its citizens. These rights include

  • Right to vote and be voted for
  • Freedom of speech
  • Free press
  • Right to dignity of a person
  • Right to life
  • Freedom from torture or degrading treatment
  • Right to privacy
  • Right to fair hearing etc.


Sovereignty means the supremacy of the government. The constitution transfers some of its mandates to the government to authorise some of its actions.


Legitimacy refers to the recognition and acceptance of a government. Since a democratic government excludes imposition or force, it enjoys acceptance and recognition among the people.

Independent Judiciary

The Judiciary is the arm of government responsible for resolving conflicts, including one between the legislature and executive. Hence, to avoid bias or injustice, the Judiciary must be independent of any interference.

Strong and Organised Opposition

The opposition group serves to check the excesses of any government. They influence certain government decisions. In a parliamentary setting, they may raise a vote of no confidence to discredit the prime minister.