[Answered].What do you understand by ‘extreme democracy’? Are democracy and Constitutionalism always mutually reinforcing or contradictory?


Extreme democracy puts people in charge of the political process. It is a step ahead of representative democracy and yet different from direct democracy.

Direct democracy allows people to make decisions through referendum and other means. Extreme democracy is not only about taking decision but also engaging citizens and stakeholders in the whole movement. The basic unit of extreme democracy is the activist or a citizens’ group concerned with a particular issue.  Small groups of activists have changed the world repeatedly and at every stage in history. French Revolution, which gave us the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity, emanated from extreme democracy.

Recent upsets through referendum, e.g. Brexit, rejection of Colombo peace deal with FARC, and rejection of constitutional reforms in Italy have made political class term such form of democracy as ‘extreme’, thus making it seem like democracy and constitutionalism are contradictory.

However the relationship between constitutionalism and democracy is mutually reinforcing:

  • Constitutionalismmeans adherence to the letter and spirit of the constitution. It means that the power of leaders and government bodies is limited, and that these limits can be enforced through established procedures. It inherently, acts as a check against arbitrary use of power in representative democracy. Thus, necessitating a stable democracy.
  • Democracy on the other hand specifies who constitutes the legitimate government and wields the authority inherent in the state (the elected representatives), how they acquire authority (free and fair elections, choice between parties) and how they are to exercise it (in board harmony with public good). Thus making democracy amenable to moral and ethical justifications.
  • Hence, constitutionalism forms the philosophical foundation upon which democracy and democratic theories are built.

But with recent upsets there seems to be some discord due to widening gap between rich and poor, skilled and unskilled and low job creation for semi-skilled. Added with political apathy to people’s discontents leading to citizens looking for complete overhaul.

 

A corner stone of democratic government is adherence to the letter and spirit of constitution. Thus governing according to the dictates of the law would provides equal opportunities for all citizens, ensure human rights and minimize discord between people and the government.


 

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