Essay: Correlation between democratic institutions in states and freedom of expression

Introduction

Human rights were in their original formulation profoundly anti-democratic. Their purpose was to empower individuals and to put restriction on authority of government regardless of its political system. The right of freedom of expression for instance is an eminent example of this purpose. Consequently, the right of freedom of expression could potentially impair a democracy’s sovereignty as individuals have the right to voice any opinion, even if this opinion is in conflict with the democratic values. One could, thus, publicly advocate inequality despite the fact that the democratic fundament is built on equality. This research, therefore, aims to provide an insight in the correlation between democratic institutions and freedom of expression. Although democracy and freedom of expression seemed incompatible at first glance, a democratic society has the responsibility to protect human rights as it would be undemocratic not to. In theory, compatibility is achieved through a change in approach: in liberal democracies human rights are superior to democracy itself; they are universal, fundamental, indivisible and absolute (Heywood, 2011). In other words, democracies’ defining attributes are political liberties such as freedom of expression. Therefore, today democracy and respect for human rights hold a strong theoretical association (Sen, 2014). However, it is necessary to research the correlation between democracy and human rights in practice as many historical and recent events show that they do not always seem to go hand in hand. Specifically freedom of expression is a controversial right in this sense. In recent years global communication has increased tremendously and the examples of negatively used freedom of expression are numerous. We all know the attacks at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which was an attempt to suffocate freedom of expression in democratic sense or the case of Salman Rushdie, who in 1988 became victim of a fatwa after writing a novel called The Satanic Verses. This verdict announced by the Iranian leader Khomeini ordered all Muslims in the world to eliminate him. He left his native country and was as offered protection by the British state. Another recent example is that of Pavel Durov, who went into exile after he refused to release data of Ukrainian protest leaders to the Russian government.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) stresses that ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’ (Heywood, 2011). In article 19 it is established that under any circumstance every human being should have the basic human right of communication: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’ (Sen, 2014). However, as the examples of Durov and Hebdoe show, freedom of expression is complex and can cause political disturbance. Do democratic institutions, then, in practice support and carry out this fundamental human right? In conclusion, this research analyses the correlation between democracy and freedom of expression. It gives an overview of the different democratic institutions worldwide and the degree of freedom of expression that is tolerated. Questions taken into consideration in order to establish an accurate overview are: 1. Are democratic institutions deeply rooted in society? 2. Is there a significant difference between the degree of freedom of expression that is allowed within states? The hypotheses of this research are: 1) Freedom of expression will not be tolerated in countries without democratic institutions. 2) In the majority of countries, democratic institutions are reasonably stable and a tolerance exists with regard to freedom of expression.
. First, a general framework will be offered by means of an overview of the available literature on this topic. Next, the method of analysis and the research design will be explained, including the sample. Then, findings will be presented. The research will be concluded with a discussion based on these findings in relation to the hypotheses.

Concept definition democratic institutions: Democratic institutions are institution in which power is vested in the people, such as parliament.
Concept definition freedom of expression: Includes free press. The right to say what one wants through any form of communication and media, with the only limitation being to cause another harm in character or reputation by lying or misleading words.

Literature review
Freedom of expression embodies the extent to which citizenry can express their views without being sanctioned (Conrad & Moore, 2010). A great difference between democracies and autocracies is that the latter does not tolerate open criticism against their rule. In states where freedom of expression is constantly suppressed, it is presumable that those governments also violate other fundamental rights (M??ller, 2013). Democracies are therefore political systems that grant opportunities to the state??s citizenry. This should make sure that citizens are able to express and discuss their preferences, collectively or individually, to other citizens and government, whom have to take these preferences -without discrimination- into genuine consideration (Waldron-Moore, 1999). These democracies show a variaty of formal governmental institutions. A few examples of those institutions are: legislature and courts, political party and interest group systems (Lijphart, 2012). Some scholars argue that freedom of expression is violated long before disruptions of freedom of assembly and freedom of association (M??ller, 2013). A general consensus exists which argues that autocracies repress civil liberties to a much higher extent than democracies. Legitimacy is of great importance. Democracies are supposed to have free and fair elections, meaning electoral legitimacy, whereas autocracies do not have this institution. In other words, elections create a vertical accountability and this accountability serves to restrict the power that incumbents exercise (M??ller, 2013). Mois??s (2006) argues that there is no guarantee that the things that citizens pursue individually or collectively will be achieved through the instrument of voting. This can only be achieved through the institutions of justice, representation and decisions made concerning the implementation of public policies. Distribution of power is important and an assurance that citizens’ opinions regarding public priorities will be answered with a corresponding process of decision- making. Democratic regimes would not function effectively without these crucial institutions and its relationship with the citizenry (Mois??s, 2006). When people are allowed to express their opinions and are heard by executives, who on their turn represent citizenry with effective choices, then people can influence and be part of governmental policy (Conrad & Moore, 2010). M??ller (2013) argues that when the extent of democratic institutions increases, like the spread of electoral competition, this will not be accompanied with the same amount of expansion in respecting civil liberties. Self-evident in democracies is freedom of press. Freedom of press is crucial because when constraints exist individuals are limited in developing political knowledge. In other words, because of those constraints individuals do not receive information that they can take into account and because of this lack of knowledge they are not able to control rule (Waldron-Moore, 1999). For instance, the media in the United States serves a political and responsible function, where the media is seen as the eyes and the ears of the people. This means that the media is an intermediary between government and citizenry, acting in the best interest of all people and keeping an eye on the actions conducted by representatives (Sen, 2014). Particularly with the help of citizens the media can provide an extra-legal control, much like a watchdog on the functioning of government (Sen, 2014). Thence, logically arises the necessity for media to be free of governmental interference. In Turkey for example freedom of expression is heavily intervened by the government. Turkey adopted a restrictive Internet law, which makes sure that government can prevent anti-government criticism. There are for instance several restrictions concerning the use of YouTube and Twitter. Moreover, a telecom communication company named TIB is even empowered to take executive actions without any judicial legitimacy. Sen (2014) argues that the emergence of corruption in regulatory frameworks is the main method to media control and establishing these controls have become the first priority of authoritarian governments. Tunisia, on the other hand, holds a particular attitude concerning freedom of expression. Their idea of freedom of expression -which is adopted in January 2014 into the Tunisian constitution- could best be explained as a way to protect the sacred. In this sense, freedom of expression is guaranteed as long as it does not abuse the sacred in any possible way (McCarthy, 2015) . This means that a need to limit freedom of expression to guarantee religious values exists. It is obvious that there are good and bad politicians. Good politicians care about people’s best interests, whereas bad politicians only care about themselves. The importance of freedom of media is that it is a great instrument to capture governmental corruption. This way people can adjust their beliefs towards incumbents and decide if they are willing to support them any longer. These qualities of democratic institutions can determine whether corrupt politicians can prevail or not. But most important to an effective democracy is the non-governmental interference with media; yet, where freedom of media exists democratic institutions are expected to be sound (Bhattacharyya & Hodler). In other words, democratic institutions that embrace freedom of expression allow thereby their citizenry the opportunity to collectively give voice to the performance of their government (Conrad & Moore, 2010). Other scholars argue that democratic values can be learned through socialization and citizens can gain those important qualities through a certain kind of experience concerning participation. Those experiences could help to develop and cultivate certain qualities that are necessary for democratic systems to function (Waldron-Moore, 1999). To find support for democratic values, education is significant. It allows individuals to develop democratic skills, enables them to make rational choices and through experience of different worldviews it is possible to gain knowledge concerning tolerance, create respect and, possibly, even adopt norms and values that endeavor basic human rights and liberties (Waldron-Moore, 1999).

Method
This research is conducted as an assignment of the course Public Research at Leiden University. The strategy that was used for this research is a quantitative approach. The population of the cases and, thus, the total number of participating countries is 90 (N=90). These countries lie on different continents. The data that is used is secondary data from Quality of Government Institute (Dahlberg, et al, 2015). An advantage of this secondary data is the high level of accuracy and reliability. GoQ instutitute conducted a cross-sectional data-analysis in which they cover the entire world in 2010 (Dahlberg, et al, 2015). This data is re-used to conduct a cross-national research on the correlation between stability of democratic institutions and their tolerance of freedom of expression. The variables that are used are ‘stability of democratic institutions’ and ‘freedom of expression’. The first variable measures to what extent the democratic institutions, including the administrative and judicial systems, are capable of performing and the extent to which the democratic institutions are accepted or supported by the relevant actors. (Dahlberg, et al., 2015). The second variable measures to what extent citizens, organizations and the mass media can express
opinions freely.

The bivariate relationship is calculated with Speraman’s rho. This means that the value will lie between -1 and 1. Spearman’s Rho is used to calculate the correlation between two variables. Here, the independent variable stability of democratic institutions and the dependent variable freedom of expression are assessed. A condition for use of Spearman’s Rho was that both variables are ordinal. This method of comparison is chosen as it provides the opportunity to better comprehend social phenomena.

Statistical Analysis
The value of R is 0.85862 and the two-tailed value of P is 0. By normal standards, the association between the variables ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘stability of democratic institutions’ would be considered statistically significant. The Mean of the variable stability in democratic institutions is 45.5, the variable freedom of expression also has a Mean of 45.5. The standard deviation of stability in democratic institutions has an outcome of 25.64 and the standard deviation of freedom of expression is 25.95. These numbers combined give the following covariance: 50841.25/89= 571.25. R = 571.25/ (25.64*35.95)= 0.859.

Both variables have been categorized into three levels of measurement. The following is relevant regarding variable Freedom of expression: 1.Freedom of expression is restricted, 2. Freedom of expression is limited, 3. Freedom of expression (sometimes) partly limited but there are in any case no prohibitions on the press.
The variable that measures stability in democratic institutions is categorized into: 1. There are only few democratic institutions, 2. Only individual institutions are accepted, while influential actors hold vetoes. Acceptance remains unstable over time
And 3. Most democratic institutions are accepted as legitimate by most relevant actors.

23% of the countries who have been surveyed fall into the highest category . This means that democratic institutions in these countries, in general, are stable and freedom of expressive is in most cases tolerated. In total there were four countries that achieved the maximum scores on both variables, these are: Estonia, Uruguay, Czech Republic and Chile. A notable outlying observation is Niger, which achieved the highest category in stability in democratic institutions, but obtained the lowest category in tolerance towards freedom of expression. Exactly the opposite applies to the countries of Kuwait and Qatar.
There are no scores obtained in both category 1 of ‘freedom of expression’ and Category 2 of ‘stability of democratic institutions’.
The countries Eritrea, North Korea , Laos, Somalia and Turkmenistan achieved in both variables the lowest possible score.
This means that in those countries freedom of expression is denied and no independent media exists, and that no democratic institutions exists (authoritarian regime).

The table above is the frequency distribution, which displays the number of times a characteristic of this variable is observed in the sample where N=90.
* All outcomes have been categorized into three possible levels; 1. Freedom of expression is restricted/ 2. Freedom of expression is limited/ 3. Freedom of expression (sometimes) partly limited but there are in any case no prohibitions on the press.
The results contain 8 countries with the highest possible score. This means that in those countries freedom of expression is unrestricted for citizens, groups and the press. There are a total of 6 countries where all freedom of expression is denied and no independent media exists.
The Mean for this variable is 5.63, which is the second category ‘Freedom of expression is limited’, de variance is 6.57191 and the Standard deviation is 2.56357.

The table above is the frequency distribution, which displays the number of times a characteristic of this variable is observed in the sample where N=90.
* All outcomes have been categorized into three possible levels; 1. There are only few democratic institutions/ 2. Only individual institutions are accepted, while influential actors hold vetoes. Acceptance remains unstable over time./ 3. Most democratic institutions are accepted as legitimate by most relevant actors.
The results contain 6 countries with the highest possible score. This means that in those countries all democratic institutions are accepted as legitimate by all relevant actors. There are a total of 11 countries where there are no democratic institutions as such (authoritarian regime).
The Mean for this variable is 4.84, which results in the second category ‘Only individual institutions are accepted, while influential actors hold vetoes. Acceptance remains unstable over time’. The Variance = 9.00924 and the standard deviation = 3.00154.

Discussion
Because of the small scale of this research it is not possible to develop a new theory. However, this research could serve as the instigator to further research. As a result of the use of secondary data there is an inevitable gap between the data that the data analyst has collected (with his own goals in mind), and this research question. In other words, there is a considerable chance that the data that was used only gives an approximate result. Additionally, there is a limit to which these results can be generalised. However, based on this research it can be confirmed that a simultaneous connection takes place between both variables which is displayed by the analysis. In light of the research question this means that we can conclude that a relationship exists between both variables. This conclusion could be the motivation for a longitudinal follow-up study that could research which of the two variables longer present in democratic societies. Within this study the first hypothesis argues that ‘Freedom of expression will not be tolerated in countries without democratic institutions’. This can be confirmed. Of the 38 countries that show little stability in democratic institutions 19 have some form of freedom of expression. Only 4,5 % of the participating countries did not have democratic institutions and all of these countries did not have freedom of expression. The second hypothesis argued that ‘in the majority of countries, democratic institutions are reasonably stable and a tolerance exists with regard to freedom of expression”. This, too, can be confirmed as 51 countries (57%) abide democratic institutions and know a significant degree of freedom of expression. Consequently, within this study we can confirm a positive correlation between freedom of expression and democratic institutions.

Conclusion
This research was aimed on the possible correlation between democratic institutions in states and freedom of expression. In general, we can conclude that freedom of expression is often not achieved in countries without stability in democratic institutions. In countries that show some degree of stability in the institutions, a higher degree of freedom of expression can be measured. When there are democratic institutions installed that work well, in general, a higher degree of tolerance for freedom of expression is found. This research shows that the creation of deep-rooted democratic institutions often takes more time than the adoption of freedom of expression.

Source: Essay UK - http://muslimschristians.com/essays/miscellaneous/essay-correlation-between-democratic-institutions-in-states-and-freedom-of-expression/


Not what you're looking for?

Search our thousands of essays:

Search:


About this resource

This Miscellaneous essay was submitted to us by a student in order to help you with your studies.



Word count:

This page has approximately words.


Share:


Cite:

If you use part of this page in your own work, you need to provide a citation, as follows:

Essay UK, Essay: Correlation between democratic institutions in states and freedom of expression. Available from: <http://muslimschristians.com/essays/miscellaneous/essay-correlation-between-democratic-institutions-in-states-and-freedom-of-expression/> [17-01-19].


More information:

If you are the original author of this content and no longer wish to have it published on our website then please click on the link below to request removal:


Essay and dissertation help


Latest essays in this category:


Our free essays:

badges