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Democracy can be defined as system of government by the people and for the people. It can also be defined as a form of government in which all people can choose their leaders and hold them accountable for their policies and conduct in office.

Democracy entails the key elements of basic human rights, free and fair elections and equality of all people before the law. The following are the principle that governed politics in Europe before the rise of democracy;

1. Absolutism; This was one of the main principles that governed politics in Europe. Throughout Europe in the period before the French revolution of 1789, the government was in the hands of few individuals. The individuals had absolute power and in most cases their positions were hereditary. In France, the king was above the law and not controlled by it. He had power to have an individual arrested and imprisoned during the kings pleasure through the famous letter de cachet.

2. Divine right of the king; This was the belief that the power of monarchies was given directly by God and thus monarchs were answerable only to God. Any opposition to the king was an attack on God himself. Thiswas very true in Britain during the reign of king James I. The same situation occurred in France where it was a serious offense to questions the powers of the king, king Louis XIV once remarked that I am the state.

3. Feudal order/ feudalism; Before the rise of democracy, Europe was characterized by feudal order/feudalism and privileged classes. Feudalism as practiced in the kingdom of England was a state of human society which was formally structured and stratified on the basis of land tenure. The land lords were part and parcel of the government. In France, the ancient regime was characterized by distinctive classes of the clergy and the nobles.

4. The church and the state were inseparable; There was a strong relationship between the church and the state in Europe before the rise of democracy. The official faith or religion in France was supposed to be Catholics. The pop could even influence the decisions of the kings of France. In Britain, the official faith or religion was Anglican. All members of the royal family had to be Anglicans.

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