What is Democracy?
Currently, you can call a political system “democratic” when it fulfills five characteristics: pluralism, competition, elections, principle of majority rule and constitutionalism. These five elements are the “minimum” commitments that are shared by the countries that usually are called “democracies”. However some countries that do not or do not fully comply with these requirements will be called democratic, while others say a “true” democracy needs to meet several conditions. These observations demonstrate that there is not an absolute definition of “democracy”.
When discussing democracy, it is necessary to evaluate the concept’s current debates, if they were misinterpreted it could create confusion. Firstly, democracy is an inherently controversial idea, given its many definitions and values. Secondly, the definition of democracy is and should be in itself a central subject of political debate. Thirdly, democracy is a reality and an evolving ideal. And fourthly, democracy is a state, but also a process, since democracy is a conquest and a socio-historical collective construction.
The UNDP Report about Democracy in Latin America
In 2004, the UNDP Democratic Development Regional Project in Latin America, in association with the European Union (EU), launched the Democracy in Latin America: Towards a Citizens' Democracy Report. In September of the same year, following this work, the book “Ideas and Contributions: Democracy in Latin America” was presented. Since its publication, both documents have had a great impact in and outside the region and have become a point of reference in the debates about democracy and politics in Latin America, giving particular attention to three types of actors: politicians, academics, and mass media.
In order to continue with this process, the countries demanded to strengthen the national capabilities for democratic development, bridging the gap between the knowledge contributed by the published documents and experience. An educational component was adopted as the most appropriate form of promoting cultural changes at a local, national and regional level.