Politics in Minutes (2016)

Government by the people

While the idea of monarchy or a single leader evolved from ancient traditions, the advent of political philosophy challenged the status quo. Thinkers began to examine other alternatives to hereditary patriarchy. Might it be better, for instance, to appoint leaders on merit, not by accident of birth?

From this developed the idea of making conscious decisions about the form of government a society should have and the participation of the people in making that choice. In Ancient Greece and then in Rome, the old tyrants were deposed and replaced with republics, and medieval Europe saw a very gradual decline in the power of the monarchies in favour of greater democracy. Some form of democracy, with the people participating to some degree in the way in which they are governed, today forms part of almost all modern mainstream political ideologies, and so is arguably as much an institution as an ideology – or at least is the raison d’être of institutions, such as parliaments and congresses.