Democracy English (en) Deutsch (de) español (es)français (fr) português (pt)

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There are multiple discussions about the definition of Democracy. This page does not cover all the aspects of the term.


Democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural system and their full participation in all aspects of their lives.

While democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy. Democracy, development and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. For the EU and its Members States, democracy is both a core value and an essential aspect of internal and external policies. Democracy is a vital factor in strengthening the impact and sustainability of development cooperation. Since 1995, the European Union has systematically included a standard human rights and democracy clause as an essential element of non-sectoral/mixed agreements concluded with third countries. For EU countries, the following can be considered to be essential elements of democracy: Participation in public affairs without discrimination and the right to stand and the right to vote in elections; Freedom of Expression and Opinion, Association, Assembly; Separation of powers; Independent judiciary; Relationship between the legislative and the executive (checks and balances); Vital role of Parliament; Rule of law; Pluralistic system of political parties; Transparency and Accountability.

For the purpose of the Structured Dialogue

Democracy is a form of government where a constitution guarantees basic personal and political rights, fair and free elections, and independent courts of law. It opposes the concept of totalitarian regime, which refers to a form of government that subordinates the individual to the state and strictly controls all aspects of life by coercive measures.

In order to deserve to be called a democracy, a country needs to fulfil the respect for some basic requirements: guarantee of human rights to every individual person; separation of powers between the institutions of the state; Freedom of opinion, religion, speech, press and media; right to vote; good governance, accountability and rule of law.