Alternate History

Democracy OTL vs. Abrittus (Abrittus)

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In OTL, representative democracy, also called parliamentary democracy, is the dominant political paradigm of the present. Politics are the business of a specialised group, whose difference from an aristocracy rests solely on their being elected for a fixed period of time. The institutions of this kind of democracy have evolved from councils of the nobility, which gradually came to include commoners, then less wealthy commoners, then women, too. The English Westminster Parliament is the historical role model of this paradigm, which has been copied, with minor variations, across almost the entire world. Even completely non-democratic states (e.g. dictatorships like Cuba, North Korea or the historical Eastern European satellite states of the Soviet Union) imitate at least the outward appearance of parliamentarity.

In Antiquity, a different paradigm of democracy had existed among the Greek, the Romans, the Punic, Germanic tribes and many others: general assemblies, a more direct form of democracy. Admittedly, foreigners, women, slaves, servants etc. were excluded from these assemblies. Historically, they were replaced by monarchies in OTL. But when democracy returned to Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries, it did so in the form of incorporated, coniurated villages with their own general assemblies. Because modern democratic states have modelled their parliaments after aristocratic councils rather than after these grassroots democracies, we have got used to the historical conclusion that the ancient direct democracy was a flawed paradigm, one that could not work in greater territorial states or more complex societies, so that our model of parliamentary democracy is the inevitable and only viable one.

In this timeline, the classical structures of democracy are kept (in the case of the Germanic nations) or revived (in the Roman case) and, over many centuries, adapted to a changing society. As a conclusion, direct democracy in the form of assemblies is the dominant paradigm of democracy in this timeline - although parliaments exist on federal levels, too, just like plebiscitarian elements exist in today`s parliamentary democracies.

The two most influential role models of this paradigm are the Comitium Civitatis of the Roman realm and the Thing of the Germanic realm. They have influenced, to different degrees, the institution of the Veche in the Slavic realm, the ⵜⴰⵙⵎⵓⵏⵉ (Tasmuni) of the Imaziyen and Malinke, the Sabha of the Iranian realm and the Gana Sangha of the Indian realm.

Over time, the popular assembly have changed their nature to effectively prevent violence among participants, to organise speech rights and agenda-setting etc. Their duties have changed, too. While ancient Things mostly dealt with "legal" conflicts and resulted in judgments, jurisdiction has been delegated to professional elected judges, who are merely accompanied by juries drawn by lot, since the 5th century (Alemannia) to 13th century (Gotland), while the amount of new legislation, electable magistrates and budget decisions by the Things has increased drastically.

Consequences of this different democratic paradigm are a greater politicisation of the masses, a closer relation between the political, the economic and the cultural subsystems of society, the relative absence of a concept of negative civil rights, and a greater emotional heat of political and thus also social debates, which means that, for example, processes of cultural modernisation like the emancipation of women, equal rights for gays and lesbians etc. are not negotiated between professional politicians, lobby groups, the mass media, educational institutions and perhaps sometimes mass demonstrations on the streets. Instead, tens or even hundreds of thousands of proponents and opponents of a specific measure come into direct contact with each other in every town and city - occasional escalations included.


Salvador79 (talk) 16:52, March 11, 2015 (UTC)

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