Bringing together various texts I had on the challenges to democracy (special interest groups, single-issue parties, mass stupidity, mass ignorance and voter apathy), and adding a little intro on the 'building blocks' of democracy: Authority, regulation of power, the voting-out of parties, a free press, freedom of expression and the division of powers.
The conclusion reads:
"Democracy, the control of the direction of government and the granting of its authority by the people, needs to be actively watched and defended. Special interest groups and single-issue lobbies (as well as parties) can, through their hearty activism, undermine democracy by giving certain an out-of-proportion focus at the expense of general good governance. Large multinational companies are able to outmanouvre and ignore local governments, which sometimes places them above-the-law. Mass stupidity and voter apathy means that the people normally vote (if they vote at all) on short-sighted, shallow and unimportant issues, which reduces the ability of government to make required sacrifces to overcome long-term problems. If the people vote on good-sounding but shallow policies, only good-sounding but shallow (short-term) parties will be elected. This is potentially disasterous and represents the biggest threat to democracy.
Solution to these threats include increased inter-governmental agreements on Law and Order, Trade and Industry Regulations (such as occurs within the EEC, etc), and multi-government agencies such as the UN and EU bring international commerce back within the reach of authority. To overcome the problems of mass stupidity and ignorance, meritocratic systems should be tested and implemented in addition to tried-and-tested methods of political revitalisation and public education.
Despite weaknesses, the strengths of democracy make it the sole superior method of governance and it has shown itself in history to be most capable of allowing human development (technological and moral), granting human rights and protecting the rights of citizens against corporations and government abuse. To this end, it is the duty of developed, stable democratic countries (such as the USA, Europe, India, Japan, etc) to help governments who rule countries with little stability. where history, strife and conflict divide the people, and for international institutions to declare and defend clear universal Human Rights."