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Democracy means different things to different people as a result of their values, philosophy, culture, environment, status, inclination, enlightenment and experience.
Democracy entails the process of considering various options and views before arriving at a decision based on mutual consensus. It is consultative and multi dimensional in nature. The quality of the process, input and results are based on the knowledge and preference of the community or stakeholders. It is relevant in global, national or local community governance, as well as in academics, business, civil society, demographic, economic, family, religion, social etc.
The word "democracy" has its origins in the Greek language. It combines two shorter words: "demos" meaning whole citizen living within a particular city-state and "kratos" meaning power or rule. However, both terms have more than one meaning (Arblaster, 1996) http://www.abc.net.au/civics/democracy/td_primary.htm
e-Democracy promotes communication, consultation, collaboration, deliberation, education and performance evaluation to strengthen the democratic process. It is applicable to different contexts. It can be any situation that has a democratic element or the need for stakeholder engagement and consultations.
Social media has contributed to the transformation of institutional and national governance. However, the entrenchment true participative, sustainable, context based and development directed democracy is a long, steady and demanding process. The Arab spring is a classic example. Events are still unfolding, long after the change of the principal actors in government.
It is a common fallacy to measure the democratic governance process by the standard of some western countries, thus isolating the contextual and developmental need of the people concerned.
Recurring question is to ascertain if democracy is the right/best form of governance? The answer is democracy is a concept in development with its positive and negative components based on its application, process, people, space and knowledge of the stakeholders. Democracy is not necessarily the best form of governance system but, it is probably the most sustainable, enduring and "best" so far available.
Through effective democratic process, the citizens have a better opportunity of expressing their view, getting their perspectives heard, creating exerting some influence on their representative and being better informed, thus making a broader segment of the community to feel as part of the decision making process, ownership of the emanating policies and increase in support of the implementation.
Democratic and e-democracy expression may be through direct participation, elected representatives or a combination of various options based on the constitution, culture, economy, wealth/poverty index, allegiance – party, ethnic or religious and the reality on ground. Some scholars have attempted to associate democracy with slavery and sexism in ancient Greek, since the Greek used a model of direct representation which allowed only male that could defend the nation in war to vote, excluding female and slaves.
The need for meaningful collaboration, need-based capacity building to positively influence the segment of influence in the community, properly defined process and governance value evaluation in order to harness the benefits of the process for sustainable development and improved governance through e-democracy cannot be overemphasized.
The literacy level, success of e-democracy and national development are heavily dependent on the effectiveness of the factors listed below:
Clear national vision