- Not to be mistaken with Irish or Marxist-Leninist People's Democracy. For the Italian party see Popular Democracy (United Left). For the Ecuatorian party see Christian Democratic Union (Ecuador)
Popular democracy is a notion of direct democracy based on referendums and other devices of empowerment and concretization of popular will. The concept evolved out of the political philosophy of Populism, as a fully democratic version of this popular empowerment ideology, but since it has become independent of it, and some even discuss if they are antagonistic or unrelated now (see Values). Though the expression has been used since the 19th century and may be applied to English Civil War politics, at least the notion (or the notion in its current form) is deemed recent and only recently got fully developed.
Early usages of the terms and/or the concept
Some figures, like TV documentary producer, director and writer Colin Thomas, see the Levellers, resistance of groups to both the Stuart monarchy and Oliver Cromwell’s English Republic as early popular democracy advocacy groups. Thomas sees the line of this early popular democracy going through the dissenting church, to the American Revolutionaries and later British trade unionism.
Thomas Paine's Common Sense is sometimes considered to defend a form of popular democracy. Andrew Jackson was considered a defendant of popular democracy as a politician and president, and his presidency is considered as having made the transition from republic (Jeffersonian democracy) to popular democracy (Jacksonian democracy) in the United States
Walt Whitman uses the word in Democratic Vistas as description of the vague notion of masse democracy with universal suffrage of a more or less direct and participatory type he defended. He admitted that the system had some dangers, but it "practically justifies itself beyond the proudest claims and wildest hopes of its enthusiasts". William Jennings Bryan may be considered a popular democrat for his support of a democracy based on popular sovereignty.
In post-independence India, popular democracy, together with economic and social liberalism and hindu nationalism, is considered one of the main currents who tried to define Indian politics since 1947.
Late 20th century
After the fall of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 it was created in the Philippines a research and advocacy centre called Institute for Popular Democracy, who frequently criticizes "elite politics" and defends reformist local social movements.
Some Burkinabé Communists founded a group who supported a Marxist-Leninist People's Democracy (though with a free-market economic plan) in 1989, the Organization for Popular Democracy - Labour Movement. In 1991 they renounced Marxism-Leninism and transformed their Marxism-Leninism into a form of popular democrat philosophy.
In 1996 the popular democratic Organization for Popular Democracy - Labour Movement created the Congress for Democracy and Progress, being the current ruling party in Burkina Faso.
Some Marxist groups consider that the current Middle East is currently prepared for and wishes popular democracy (which in this context may be referring to Marxist People's Democracy) but that the "neoconservative design upon the region" and American power prevents this.
In 2003 it was published one of the main book-length appraisals of popular democracy, Hilary Wainwright's Reclaim the State: Experiments in Popular Democracy, a criticism of both Social Democracy and Big government and Neoliberalism and Big Business.
The Chinese democracy movement sometimes chooses a popular democrat system as the easiest democratic model from which the People's Republic of China could evolve out of the current one-party system ("people's democracy"), something which has already been criticized as a 'sell-out' by some Chinese democracy activists.
As Popular democracy is an ideal of direct and participatory democracy based on grassroots, there aren’t exactly very defined values beyond support of this kind of democracy over more representative types. But some attempts have been made for define Popular democrat ideals based around the idea that this direct democracy is just a step for a full democracy. Some proposals of Popular democratic common values have been:
- Civil rights (freedom of speech, debate and enquiry)
- Direct democracy
- respectable, bias-free mass media
- Economic democracy
- Equality before the law
- Popular sovereignty
As the ideal of Popular democracy came out of prepositions of Populism (ex: popular rule in democracy is fairer than elitist parliaments; decisions by general referendums are fairer than decisions by limited groups like parliaments and governments), and as platforms of certain groups claiming to be popular democratic are very similar to those of various democratic and undemocratic populist movements, there is discussion on the relation between both political philosophies.
Taking advantage of the vagueness of the concept many parties in a wide range of ideologies call themselves Popular Democratic Party, Popular Democrat Party or People's Democratic Party, or even Democratic Popular Party or Democratic People's Party and support or claim to support popular sovereignty in some form of popular democracy.
The Nepalese Maoists also support a socialist, non-elitist, form of popular democracy , which may be understood as a form of Maoist people's democracy but based more on popular participation and less on Vanguard parties.
Whitman wrote Democratic Vistas in answer to criticism of universal suffrage and full democracy of Thomas Carlyle in Latter-Day Pamphlets, who considered the popular democratic system too many rights given to uneducated masses of the people, as rule should be kept in the hands of highly educated people and aristocrats. This criticisms have been repeated numerous times as a way of showing popular democracy as just another word for mob rule.
- Popular Democratic Party (disambiguation)
- People's Democratic Party (disambiguation)
- Democratic Popular Party (disambiguation)
- Democratic People's Party (disambiguation)
- Off With Their Heads – Bristol Radical History Week 2008, Bristol Radical History Group, section The Levellers Are Dead – Long Live The Levellers! – Colin Thomas
- Common Sense: The Rhetoric of Popular Democracy, A We The People Resource, EDSITEment!.neh.org
- Jacksonian Era, American History.About.com
- JACKSON COMES TO POWER: THE ELECTION OF 1828
- The Reader's Companion to American History, ed. Eric Foner, John Arthur Garraty, Society of American Historians, Houghton-Mifflin, 1991, section "JACKSONIAN DEMOCRACY"
- American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, by Jon Meacham, Powell's.com
- What Whitman Knew, David Brooks, fourteenth paragraph
- Where Did the Party Go?: William Jennings Bryan, Hubert Humphrey, and the Jeffersonian Legacy, Jeff Taylor, University of Missouri Press, 2006
- Insurgency campaigns and the quest for popular democracy: Theodore Roosevelt, Eugene McCarthy, and party monopolies
- The Christian Democrat International, Roberto Papini, page 32
- Reinventing India: Liberalization, Hindu Nationalism and Popular Democracy, eu.Wiley.com
- Obama, Hillary and full circle on Iowa, Sidney Morning Herald, Sidney Morning Herald Blog, third comment
- Libya: Popular Democracy Or Police State?, Youtube.com
- President Hafez Assad, official Bashar al-Assad website
- Political Parties of the World (6th edition, 2005), ed. Bogdan Szajkowski, page 96.
- Popular Democracy in Prague after the Velvet Revolution, Metta Spencer, Peace Magazine, Aug-Sep 1990
- The Impact of the Internet on Popular Democracy in the United States, Gabriel J. Gubash, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May, 1997
- Marxism mailing list archive, re: The growing striving for popular democracy in the MiddleEast - striving where?, Marxism mailing list, 16 May 2005
- Good Governance, A Desiderata For Popular Democracy In Nigeria, Prince Charles Dickson, Nigeria Village Square, 22 March 2008
- Abkhazie-Géorgie : essai de démocratie populaire, Mathilde Damoisel, Caucaz Europenews, 1 June 2003, (in French)
- Monthly Review, Nepal and Venezuela: For Popular Democracy, against Ceremonial Democracy, Pratyush Chandra Monthly Review magazine, 23 April 2006
- Travel to Venezuela: Popular Democracy
- Charter 08: Chinese Activists Question Effectiveness Of Popular Democracy Charter, Joel Schectman, Huffington Post, February 23, 2009 (published online by Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition News and Article Release Issue Number: A443-O132, at the Wei Jingsheng Foundation)
- THE FIVE PRINCIPLES OF DEMOCRACY, Alistair McConnachie, Sovereignty, March 2005
- THE SOVEREIGNTY STRATEGY TO REGAIN CONTROL OF OUR GOVERNMENT, Alistair McConnachie, Sovereignty, February 2002
- Participatory Budgeting: from Porto Alegre, Brazil to the U.S., Mike Menser and Juscha Robinson, Popular Economics.org
- Populism or Popular Democracy? The UDF, Workerism and the Struggle for Radical Democracy in South Africa, David Howarth, in Populism And The Mirror Of Democracy, ed. Francisco Panizza, Verso, 2005
- Authoritarian Populism: A Reply to Jessop et al, Stuart Hall, New Left Review I/151, May–June 1985
- Democratically Aestheticized Politics, Jon Simons, American Political Science Association, Aug 30, 2007
- The Promise of Popular Democracy, Part II: Solidarity of the Shaken, Glenn W. Smith, Rockridge Institute, Sun Apr 27, 2008
- The support of the Rockridge Institute to popular democracy can be seen in their website's The Promise of Popular Democracy series
- Nepal and Venezuela: For Popular Democracy, against Ceremonial Democracy, by Pratyush Chandra
- What Whitman Knew, David Brooks, ninth paragraph.
- The Specter of Popular Democracy: How Majoritarianism is Facilitating Genocide in Sri Lanka, Moggy on March 8, Zimbio, 2009
- The limits of popular Democracy: women's organisations, feminism and the UDF, Shireen Hassim, in Transformation 51, 2003
- Cliff Durand, Morgan University. "Democracy and Struggles for Social Justice". Center for Global Justice. Retrieved 2010-07-08. - a text defending Popular democracy
- Sovereignty, an Advocacy group, Think Tank and Democracy watchdog who supports Popular democracy in the UK
- Institute for Popular Democracy website
- List of books on Popular democracy at Amazon