There quite a few definitions of democracy. One I’ve personally liked is:
“Democracy is equality before the law. For there to be democracy, there has to be strong law before which we can be equal.” Can’t remember the author, but it was printed in a magazine directed at Canadian municipal representatives called “Municipal World”.
A couple of on line dictionaries gave the following definitions.
“Democracy is government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.”
Government by popular representation; a form of government in which the supreme power is retained by the people, but is indirectly exercised through a system of representation and delegated authority periodically renewed.”
In Canada, we are supposed to have a representative parliamentary democracy.
We elect our local representatives who in turn from among their members select our head of government (Prime Minister). Our executive (the various ministers) are then selected again from the elected representatives hopefully by the group itself, but more likely by the chosen Prime Minister.
Unfortunately, Media, Party discipline and the fact of living beside a powerful nation whose head of government is chosen directly by the electorate, out Parliamentary system has been corrupted.
The media, because of short staffing, heavily advertised national programming and again influence from south of our border concentrate heavily (almost solely) on the leaders of our national parties (who are just groups of potential/hopeful representatives).
Ask most voters who they are voting for and they’ll answer the leader’s name. Only about 200,000 people get to vote for one of the party leaders. The rest of us vote for a local representative. Our southern neighbours vote for a leader, we don’t.
Party discipline adds to the perception that there is only the leader. Our parliament used to allow people to vote their conscience now and then. A few representatives from most parties would/could vote differently from the party line. These votes would often be cancelled out by counterparts in the other parties. Things worked. However about 50 years ago (actually during a free vote where conscience voting was allowed) the party in power demanded voting on the party line. They expelled the one member who chose to believe the “free” part of that decision. The other large party had fringe members vote contrary to their official position while the smaller one issue groups were more unified.
From then on, party whips tightened their grip on members. Vote the party line or be ejected. When discipline is the law within the party, members have less say and the Leader tightens the control exerted on the party.
As the leader becomes the BOSS (rather than a leader) there is a concentration of power. To exercise that power, staff is hired to advise, counsel, disseminate and enforce. The Prime Minister’s Office which was minimal during the above debate began to grow. From a secretary and a few aids, it now numbers about 120 and has become the power behind the Prime Minister (replacing those representatives we elected to be our government).
Party discipline, a media that in effect promotes leaders (rather than representatives), a Prime Minister who believes (s)he is directly elected all supported by a non elected staff loyal only to the PM has eroded our democracy.