We live in a democratic country, Switzerland, which guarantees all citizens a certain number of rights and imposes duties, in order to find our own place and to live together in peace. Nevertheless, discrimination and racism exist in countries that choose democracy.
Democracy is thus both an ideal to pursue and a mode of government to apply. As an ideal, democracy is essentially about preserving and promoting the dignity and fundamental rights of the individual, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
As a form of government, democracy is a means to achieve these goals. In democratic systems, power is exercised by all citizens, directly or through their freely elected representatives. The term democracy is historically opposed to monarchical or oligarchic systems where power is held and transmitted within a small group.
The principles of the following democratic systems are necessary for democracy to work:
The rule of the majority: decisions are taken by majority.
The existence of a Constitution that defines and protects the rights and freedoms of citizens and residents of a country and the organization of institutions.
The separation of powers (legislative, executive and judicial): the one who decides on the laws (legislative power or parliament) can not be the one who proposes them and then applies them (executive power or government); a third separate body is needed to judge the proper application of laws (judiciary)
Regular consultation of the people (in elections and votes (referendum or initiatives in Switzerland): citizens can decide when they are consulted.
The plurality of political parties: the legal existence of several political parties.
Citizens of a democracy not only have rights, but also the responsibility to participate in the political system by inquiring and expressing their opinion, but also respecting the expression of other opinions (which does not in no way to agree with these opinions!).
Respect the values that allow democracy
Democracy is based on a number of values, attitudes and practices that can take different forms and expressions in different cultures and societies of the world: tolerance, solidarity, compromise, equality and equity, respect … These values are also those found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Learning to know and respect these values and rules of functioning of democracy helps to fight against discrimination of all kinds and racism.
It is certain that each person has his ideas, his way of seeing things, the interests to defend and we must find the means to live together in peace. Democracy also implies discussions, confrontations, conflicts of opinion. Conflict is a normal process and is not negative if it is managed other than by discrimination and violence.
In a democracy, divergent or even opposing convictions can coexist as long as everyone respects the freedom of opinion of others. On the political front, democratic systems make it possible to create the most equitable compromises possible, which are then accepted by a vote in parliament or a vote by citizens.
Freedom of speech
Freedom of expression and opinion is a fundamental and essential right in a democracy. It is also mentioned in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This does not mean that we can say anything, anywhere without any restrictions. Freedom of expression is therefore a right that is not absolute and involves duties.
The general rule is freedom of expression. Some exceptions are nevertheless decided by laws including in Switzerland, the law against racism. The prohibition of incitement to racial hatred and the infringement of freedom of belief are somehow exceptions to the principle of freedom of expression.
Racism is not an opinion like any other since it reaches the person at the heart of his or her identity by seeking to belittle her or denigrate her. It is in this respect and in a specific context that freedom of expression is limited.
Laws that restrict freedom of expression on Motivarts blog behalf of other fundamental rights or public order are enforced by the courts.