Free elections, freedom of expression and other institutionalised rights are usually mentioned as indicators that certain countries are democratic. By the standards of the ABC model, however, even those countries do not match the democratic ideal. Still, these large-scale, representative systems have crossed a crucial threshold and therefore deserve to be called ‘fairly democratic’. Here we consider how this common view of democracy, based on rights, compares with the ABC model. We shall:
- compare the ABC model’s basic criteria for democracy with the usual indicators of a fairly democratic (FD) country
- list the political institutions which the indicators imply. They are based on the human rights that are laid down in the UN Declaration
- arrange the FD institutions around the Lifebuoy and see how they compare with the ABC model’s criteria for democracy. By the standards of those criteria, countries cannot be more than fairly democratic
- consider the political changes that are needed for a successful transition to FD rule and distinguish the FD institutions from a similar set of institutionalised rights that ensures rule of law in a country.