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Key Principles and Processes of Democracy and Their Influences on Public Policies


This essay discusses the connection between specific democratic principles and how they contribute to democratic governance. It further examines how democratic principles influence the formulation of public policies.

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The Process of Lobbying

Lobbying can be described as a process through which individuals and concerns are marshaled to bring about desired changes (Beer, 2009). The main objective of most lobbying processes is the institutionalization of specific changes through legislation (Pijnenburg, 2010). This implies that any move to influence specific legislation fits within the meaning of lobbying. In other words, lobbying is the act of trying to influence government decisions (Kayalica & Lahiri, 2007). Many different groups engage in the process of lobbying; the different groups represent the varied interests of their members. Lobbyists are individuals or groups that participate in the lobbying process (Panke, 2012). They may include individual members of the public, constituent groups, local businesses, pressure or interest groups, and commercial organizations among others (Panke, 2012; Woll, 2013).

Lobbying and Democratic Governance

One of the strengths of democratic governance is that it encourages the participation of every eligible individual in the affairs of a state (Holden, 2011). However, there are tendencies in which the authorities in government may attempt to frustrate public participation in the affairs of the state. This is where a lobbying process plays a role (Holden, 2011). Through lobbying processes, individuals can petition the government to recognize their participation in the decision-making process regarding state matters (Holden, 2011). Through lobbying, individuals and organized groups are also able to communicate with government representatives about matters that are of great interest to the individuals or members of the organized groups (Holden, 2011).

Most lobbyists are always pro-democracy (Samuelson, 2008). They are constituted by individuals and group members who are conversant with the ideals of democracy (Samuelson, 2008). In this regard, the lobbyists act as agents of checks and balances about the development of democratic governance (Samuelson, 2008). They always petition the government to stick to the provisions of democracy as envisaged in most constitutions and world human rights charters (Samuelson, 2008).

Democratic Principles and Democratic Governance

Democratic principles provide guidelines for the establishment of ideal democratic governance. Thus, they set the framework within which a form of governance can be described as democratic (Buergler, 2008). Generally, key democratic principles like the protection of human rights, the separation of powers, and the rule of law promote a strong and free democracy, commitment to fair treatments, responsible governance, and legal review, all of which are important in terms of creating consistent democratic governance (Buergler, 2008).

Democratic Principles and the Working of Government

Democratic principles play major roles in the day-to-day working of the government (Urbinati, 2008). In this regard, the principle of the separation of powers ensures government accountability to the people; this is because each arm of the government exercises distinct powers (Urbinati, 2008). In the process, each of them helps in checking the excesses of the other two arms. This ensures government accountability (Urbinati, 2008).

Moreover, the principle of the protection of human rights helps in checking how the government deals with matters of human rights and freedoms (Urbinati, 2008). Based on this, the operations of the government are always based on the need to respect fundamental human rights. In general, the day-to-day operations of the government are often pegged on the principles of democracy (Urbinati, 2008).

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The Public Policy Issue

Public policy issues either directly or indirectly affect the members of the public (Guess & Farnham, 2011). About this, the principles of democracy have always impacted the public policy formulation processes (Guess & Farnham, 2011). In light of this, one of the public policy issues that have been influenced by democratic principles is affirmative action (Ledford, 2011). Affirmative action may generally be described as reverse discrimination or preferential treatment (Ledford, 2011). In specific terms, affirmative action refers to a policy that takes specific factors, like color, religion, race, nationality, and sex, into consideration to protect and benefit the plight of minority groups and individuals in areas of business, education, and employment (Ledford, 2011).

The Influence of Democratic Principles on the Process of Policy Formulation

Public participation is one of the democratic principles that influence the formulation of policies. Public participation is considered a form of empowerment and a crucial component of democratic governance (Keefer, 2007). It is worth noting that public policies usually directly affect the members of the public. In this case, the public members always seek to influence policy formulation so that their interests can be taken into account (Keefer, 2007). Furthermore, the members of the public use pressure or interest groups, institutions, and commercial entities in influencing policy formulation processes (Ganapati, 2011). These approaches are, in most cases, adopted by disadvantaged minority groups. One of the resultant outcomes of such lobbying is the policy of affirmative actions that take care of the interests of the minorities (Ganapati, 2011).

The other principle is that of human rights. The issues of human rights are of global concern. It is one of the most important principles of democracy (Risley, 2011). Given this factual claim, it is important to note that respect for human rights is always given prominence during the processes of policy formulation (Risley, 2011). This implies that policy formulation approaches often use parameters that are derived from the framework of international human rights (Risley, 2011). For instance, during the process of a formulation, the question of whether or not the implementation of the policy preserves human dignity and does not limit other fundamental human rights and freedoms as envisaged in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Charter (Paz, 2010).

One of the processes that influence policy-making processes is that of public opinion research. An opinion is defined as a collection of individual belief systems and attitudes; it constitutes the total sum of all individuals’ views about specific public issues (Mullinix, 2011). This process also has a significant influence on public policy formulation processes. To come up with workable public policies, all stakeholders are involved; in this regard, the views of the public are collected through public opinion researches for purposes of policy-making.

The Insights of Democratic Principles

Public policies are formulated to benefit the members of the public. About this, one of the insights is that a policy formulation process needs to take into account democratic processes and principles. This is to state that democratic principles and processes are central to decisions or policymaking. Besides, the analysis has revealed that a policy-making process takes into account the principle of majority rule and the process of consensus building with the minorities, the elements which are vital in democratic governance.


Democratic principles are processes that are very vital during a public policy formulation. This is because democracy is increasingly becoming the most preferred form of government around the world, especially in the United States. The other insight is that democracy thrives because it assists members of the society to identify themselves with the society. Moreover, it flourishes because it provides for legitimacy in the exercise of power and decision-making processes.


Beer, C. (2009). Political Geographies of Lobbying: Canberra within Australian politics. Australian Geographer, 40(2), 187-202.

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Buergler, B. (2008). Democratic Governance beyond the State: Normative requirements in the context of international cooperation in the environmental policy. Conference Papers – International Studies Association, 1(1), 1-23.

Ganapati, S. (2011). Uses of Public Participation Geographic Information Systems Applications in E-Government. Public Administration Review, 71(3), 420-435.

Guess, G. M., & Farnham, P. G. (2011). Cases in Public Policy Analysis. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

Holden, M. (2011). Public Participation and Local Sustainability: Questioning a Common Agenda in Urban Governance. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 35(2), 312-330.

Kayalica, M., & Lahiri, S. (2007). Domestic lobbying and foreign direct investment. The role of policy instruments. The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, 16(3), 300-325.

Keefer, P. (2007). Comment on ‘Evaluating Recipes for Development Success’: The Policy Usefulness of Institutional and Political Analyses of Development. World Bank Research Observer, 22(2), 160-164.

Ledford, D. (2011). Is Race Neutrality a Fallacy? A Comparison of the U.S. and French Models of Affirmative Action in Higher Education. Texas International Law Journal, 46(2), 356-378.

Mullinix, K. J. (2011). Lingering Debates and Innovative Advances: The State of Public Opinion Research. Policy Studies Journal, 39, 60-80.

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Panke, D. (2012). Lobbying Institutional Key Players: How States Seek to Influence the European Commission, the Council Presidency and the European Parliament. Journal of Common Market Studies, 50(1), 130-250.

Paz, M. (2010). A Non-territorial Ethnic Network and the Making of Human rights Law: the Case of the Alliance Israelite Universelle. Interdisciplinary Journal of Human Rights Law, 4(1), 5-30.

Pijnenburg, B. (2010). EU lobbying by ad hoc coalitions: an exploratory case study. Journal of European Public Policy, 5(2), 303-321.

Risley, A. (2011). The Power of Persuasion: Issue Framing and Advocacy in Argentina. Journal of Latin American Studies, 43(4), 660-699.

Samuelson, R. J. (2008). Lobbying gets a bad rap, but it’s democracy in action. Fort Worth Business Press, 20(50), 20-30.

Urbinati, N. (2008). Representative Democracy: Principles and Genealogy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Woll, C. (2013). Lobbying under Pressure: The Effect of Salience on European Union Hedge Fund Regulation Lobbying under Pressure: The Effect of Salience on European Union Hedge Fund Regulation. Journal of Common Market Studies, 51(3), 555-572.

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