TO WHAT EXTENT IS THE ATHENIAN MODEL OF DEMOCRACY STILL RELEVANT TO DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL SYSTEMS TODAY?

The world’s first democracy was initiated in Athens in fifth century B.C. Although it was the commencement of the democracy where the shifting of decision making started from arch monarchs and conventional kings to the people of the certain area (Wallace, 2004). The Athens democracy is considered as the base foundation of the prevalent system of democracy having colossal differences in the characteristics between the prevalent democracy and Athens democracy. In Athens Democracy, there was direct democracy in which all the selected people had right to vote on all then prevalent issues of their jurisdiction. However, Pericles who was strong supporter of aristocratic systems is considered as the leader of this Athens democracy (Dahl, 2006). On the other hand, modern democracy is representative democracy based on the city states in the world. Today, the exiting democracy in the world is quite inclusive where the population of city states have complete right to vote without fear and foe to elect the representative of his/her choice to formulate the legislation in the house of representatives. Moreover, the Athens democracy cannot be ignored at all for it provided impetus to the modern system of democracy being practiced in the world (Held, 2006). Therefore, it is inevitable to say that the Athens democracy had passed the evolutionary process and it provided the modern democratic systems that are utterly different than that of arch Athens democracy. Thus, the Athens democracy has no relevance to modern democracy in the world. The Athenian model of democracy has no relevance to democratic political systems today due to the basis differences of representative and electing systems of both arch and existing democratic systems.

Difference in electoral process:In the Athens system of democracy, there was completely different rule of procedures for electoral process and those procedures and process had become nonexistent in the modern democracy after 17th century (Robinson, 2004). Firstly, there was selective voting process in Athens democracy. For example, only adult could vote for the different treaties and rules of businesses of the government. There was no right to vote to aged persons, females and slaves in the Athens democracy. There was popular assembly of 6000 citizens who were deemed with the responsibility of taking decisions. They were called on for a meeting and every one of them was given opportunity to vote on different issues. Moreover, the Athens faced opposition of Macedonian domination in the region but soon perished their rule (Cunningham, 2002). This shows the intolerance in Athens democracy. On the other hand, the modern democracy is quite developed and it has completely different electoral process. For example in the modern democracy, the people are elected by the common people of the city state and the elected people ultimately elect the president or prime minister of their choice who take the decision of the government through consultation of the cabinet. Thus, it is easy to draw the line of differences in electoral process of the arch Athens democracy and modern democracy. Thus, this exclusiveness in Athens system of democracy is not by any means relevant to democratic political system of today (Kagan, 1993).

The legal system in the Athens Democracy was challenging as compare to today’s democracy: The Athens democracy is also not relevant in lieu of the legal system in the democratic system of Athens. Since, the legal system in Athens democracy was quite futile and undeveloped. There was no concept of following rules of procedure and the accused was deemed to be the committer. In the democratic system of Athens, accused was not given any solicitor by the government or private solicitor. Moreover, there were not defined criteria of jurists (Lanni, 1997). They were given charge through lot. Similarly, there was lage number of people sit to gather to listen the hearing of the single case. Usually the court was comprised of 200 jurors. However, some times 6000 sit to gather and hear a single case (Dryzek, 2013) . On the other hand, in modern democracy, the individual rights are accepted and the accused is given complete chance to prove him/her self an innocent. Moreover, the justice system in the modern democracy is considered as the very impressed and developed. The judges are selected on the basis of their defined qualification, wit and wisdom. In the modern political democracy, judiciary is considered as the one of the important organ and institution of a democratic state. Hence, it is inevitable to say that the Athenian model of democracy is very irrelevant to democratic political system of today (Mulgan, 2003).

Freedom of Speech and individual liberty in Athens and Modern democracy: In the Athens period of time, only trained adults could talk in the assembly, there was no single concept of putting any question before the ruler. Although there was democracy, but the ruler was deemed with sole authority and the people were considered as the subjugate people. There was no concept of talking about the government and people were to accept all forms of legislature and taxes as well as decisions taken by the popular council or president in Athens democracy (Ryan, 1972). For example, in the Athens democracy only a male adult can talk in the assembly of any issue. This shows the odd attitude in the democratic system of Athens. On the contrary, the modern democratic system renders completely the freedom of speech by all means in the world. All the genders, any age person, of any class or society can speak about the policies of the government and can present his/her critique over the formulated policies o the government in modern political democratic system (Ringen, 2009). Therefore, due to very unrealistic approach of no freedom of speech and age specific factor of giving freedom of expressions, the Athens democratic system is quite irrelevant in today’s political democratic system. Hence, the Athens system is irrelevant today in modern democracy

Athens model of democracy and opposition groups: In the Athens democracy, there was very minute tolerance for the opposition. In the Athens, the democracy was popular, but there was no response to this democracy of Athens by the foreign rulers. For example a visiting king to the Athens, found the system of democracy very ludicrous, when he observed the procedures of the assembly of Athens, he observed that the leaders only were recommending the policies in their speeches. There was no chance for the public to express their opinion for their own beneits.The king observed and quoted that “I find it astonishing that here wise men speak public affairs and fools decide them”. Similarly, the Athens had no tolerance towards their opposition. And those who opposed were brought in to the voting assembly to decide their fate. Moreover, Athens was very short lived and they were replaced with oligarchy system of government. On the contrary, the democracy in the modern political system familiarly known as democracy of Abraham Lincoln ha very due place in democracy for the opposition (Shapiro, 2006). Modern political democracy has given due regard to the opposition as they are also the representatives of the people and therefore they remain the part of policy making and the ruling side consults with the opposition in the assemblies and house of parliaments. Thus the characteristics of opposition in the Athens democracy are quite non viable in the modern times that can be implemented in the modern political democracy in the world.

Conclusively, the Athens democracy has very arch potentials of about many centuries and the world has developed to the modern dimensions and trends. The modern world is moving towards new to newest forms of governments, where there is no space to fit the Athenian model of democracy anywhere in the world. All the characteristics of the Athenian model of democracy all very arch in their potentials and cannot be experienced in the modern world. Due to changing global apparatus of the politics, the forms of governments are quite impressively being modernized. For example, many developed counties have formed parliamentary form of government, while others have developed and adopted presidential form of government like the United States and China. Similarly, the modernization of the world through science and technology, the individuals are more empowered in a society. Therefore, the Athenian model of democracy is not relevant in today’s political democracy. The Athenian democracy has council of people who are deemed with the power and responsibility of voting for the election of the ruler. The women, the old aged people and other people of the region were devoid of given votes. This means that the modern democracy will go back to the arch societies if it takes back the right to vote to women and slaves. Many leaders of the world, like Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and many others fought for the rights of deprived classes and women for their right of vote that has paved the way for the establishment of modern system of democracy in the world. Hence, by not any extent, the Athenian model of democracy is relevant to democratic political system of today.

References:

Books

Cunningham, F., 2002. Theories of Democracy: A Critical Introduction. In: Contemporary Political Philosophy.. London: Routledge.

Dryzek, J., 2013. The politics of the Earth: Environmental discourses. s.l.:OUP Oxford.

Held, D., 2006. Models of Democracy. 3d ed.. Stanford, CA.: Stanford University Press.

Mulgan, R., 2003. Holding power to account: accountability in modern democracies. Macmillan: Palgrave

Ringen, S., 2009. What Democracy Is For On Freedom and Moral Government. New Jersey: Princeton University Press

Robinson, W., 2004. Ancient Greek Democracy: Readings and Sources.: Wiley-Blackwell .

Shapiro, I., 2006. The State of Democratic Theory. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Edited book

Wallace, R. W., 2004. The power to speak — and not to listen — in ancient Athens. In Sluiter, I.  Freedom of Speech in Ancient Athens. (221-232): Leiden.

Journal

Lanni, A., 1997. Spectator sport or serious politics? and the Athenian lawcourts. The Journal of Hellenic Studies, 117 (1). 183-189.

Ryan, H., 1972. FREE SPEECH IN ANCIENT ATHENS. Free speech yearbook, 11 (1). 20-30.

Websites

Kagan, D., 1993. Periclean Athens and Modern Democracy. [Online]
Available at: http://www.aei.org/publication/periclean-athens-and-modern-democracy/