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Types of Democratic Systems Democracy, like all political systems, is based on an identifiable ideology. This ideology is common to all modern democracies.

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Presentation on theme: "Types of Democratic Systems Democracy, like all political systems, is based on an identifiable ideology. This ideology is common to all modern democracies."— Presentation transcript:


2 Types of Democratic Systems Democracy, like all political systems, is based on an identifiable ideology. This ideology is common to all modern democracies. However, the actual processes by which democracies attempt to reach their ideals vary somewhat from country to country. These variations are related to three major points. Democracies can be classified as either: –direct or representative –federal or unitary –parliamentary or presidential

3 Direct and Representative Democracy Democracy originated in ancient Athens. At that time the community was small enough that its members usually knew one another. It was small enough that citizens could all meet together at the same time. But keep in mind that citizenship was granted only to the sons of citizens. Women and slaves were not citizens! Citizens would meet on a regular basis to resolve political issues. Matters were debated and decisions were reached by a majority vote.

4 This method of government is called direct democracy: a political system in which voters vote directly on all public issues. Citizens directly participate in the making of laws. Today, this system is not practical because of the size of communities and the complexity of issues. However, direct democracy is still practiced in some small communities in Switzerland and in New England in the United States.


6 Modern democracies use representative democracy: a system of government in which voters elect representatives who vote on public issues. Citizens vote to elect people to represent their interests and concerns. Those elected meet to debate and make laws on behalf of the whole community. REPRESENTATIVES CREATE LAWS

7 Federal and Unitary System Democratic governments are structured in one of two ways. The first way is under a federal system: a system of government that consists of more than one level of government (central plus provincial or state governments). A federal system has two levels of government a national level and a state or provincial level. Power is divided between the levels according to the constitution. The constitution also forbids one level of government to interfere with the powers of another.

8 The CONSTITUTION divides power between… Federal Government Provincial or State Government Municipal Government

9 The unitary system of government has only a national government, although some legislative responsibilities are usually delegated to lower (town, city, county) levels of government. However, the national government has the power to disallow laws passed by these lower levels. Sweden is an example of a constitutional monarchy that uses a unitary system of government. (unicameral house combining executive and legislative branches, with separate judiciary) National or Central Government Exercises all powers under the constitution (May delegate some responsibilities to local levels of government) The Unitary System

10 Parliamentary and Presidential Democracy In all democratic systems, political power is divided amongst the three branches of government legislative, executive, and judicial. The division of power is designed so that power cannot be centralized in any one branch. This is called the principle of separation of powers. Two different interpretations of the principle of separation of powers has resulted in two different systems of democracy: parliamentary and presidential

11 Parliamentary System Canada uses a Parliamentary system, based on many of the traditions found within the British system.

12 Presidential System The United States is an example of a Presidential democracy Federal system (Federal and State) gained independence from Britain on July 4, 1776

13 Presidential System cont’d Three famous buildings symbolized the government in the United States: White House: residence of the President (executive power) Capitol building: home of the Senate and the House of Representatives (legislative power) Senate and H of R are called CONGRESS Supreme Court building: (judicial power)

14 Presidential System Cont’d To prevent any one group or party from becoming too powerful, the American Constitution divided the powers of government among these three branches and established a system of checks and balances.

15 Presidential duties The chief executive or head of state is the President. Presidential duties include: - enforcing of laws - negotiating treaties with foreign countries - commander-in-chief of the armed forces -appoints federal judges and ambassadors -recommends laws to Congress -signs or vetoes measures passed by Congress

16 Checks and Balances The Separation of powers ensures a system of checks and balances. For example: - The president commands the armed forces, but only Congress may declare war or vote money for troops. -All bills passed by Congress must be signed by the president (he or she has veto power) -Congress can override the president’s veto by passing the bill with a two-thirds majority in each house. (H of R and Senate) -The Supreme Court can check both the executive and legislative branches by declaring a law unconstitutional. -Judges can be removed from office by the H of R.

17 Checks and Balances Unlike the Canadian Prime Minister who is a sitting Member of Parliament, the U.S. president is NOT a member of Congress and he is elected to a 4 year term even if his party does not have a majority in Congress.

18 Congress U.S. Senate: -has the right to approve or reject the president’s appointments of judges, ambassadors, and all cabinet ministers. -treaties made by the president must be ratified by a two-thirds majority of the Senate -each state elects two senators for six year terms. -one third of the Senate positions come up for re-election every two years House of Representatives House of Representatives members are elected for two year terms. Representatives represent districts (constituencies) around the country

19 Judicial Branch Judicial Branch: -is responsible for interpreting and applying the country’s laws -U.S. judges are appointed by the president for life, subject to the approval of the Senate

20 All democracies share a common set of characteristics or features although they may vary somewhat from one country to another. Democratic political systems are based on majority rule with respect for minority rights. Respect for minority rights is essential to democracy. Only by guaranteeing the individual rights and freedoms of all citizens can a democracy avoid degenerating into a tyranny of the majority.

21 Democracy always includes elements of opposition However, there are limits to expressing dissent. The freedom of dissent is limited by the requirement of respecting the rights of others. Taken together, these characteristic features keep democracy democratic!

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