chapter  2
15 Pages

Human Rights, Representation, and Citizenship

ByAlain Touraine

The sovereignty of the people paves the way to democracy if, instead of giving popular power an unlimited legitimacy, it introduces into political life the ethical principle of recourse. Political life is based on the contrast between political and juridical decisions that favor dominant groups and the appeal to a social ethics that defends the interest of the dominated or of minorities. The juridical state and democratic recourse, or even the republic of citizens and the protection of personal rights, are as different as the liberty of the ancients and the liberty of the moderns. The three dimensions of democracy—respect for basic rights, citizenship, and the representativity of leaders—are complementary. It is their interdependence that constitutes democracy. In the early history of democracy, the separation of powers served primarily to restrict democracy and the power of the majority and to protect the interests either of an aristocracy.