September 15 has been celebrated every year as the International Day of Democracy since 2007. The beauty of democracy lies in the fact that it is not restricted to one mould. It is a universal value born out of the “freely-expressed will” of people. But then democracy was something that was under siege for the longest time in various historical periods.
Speaking of democracy, what comes to mind is the struggle that people have undergone to achieve it against the intense dictatorial regime.
As opposed to democratic leadership (which is participative that involves multiple people’s right to decision-making process for the well-being of a nation), in the case of dictatorship we have seen what happens when unbridled power falls into the hands of ruthless tyrannical dictators like Genghis Khan, Timur, Napolean, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini.
On the occasion of international democracy day, let’s find out about 5 democratic leaders who fought dictatorship in their country:
Nelson Mandela: An iconic role model of democracy and social justice, Mandela is hailed to be one of the most successful democratic leaders. He was a South African, anti-apartheid revolutionary who assumed South Africa’s Presidential office by being the first to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. He fought against white domination, got arrested for seditious activities, and later faced 27 years’ imprisonment. He was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize.
Lech Wałęsa: The first democratically elected President of Poland since 1926, Wałęsa had headed the pro-democratic drive to oust the Communist rule in Poland, and ended the Cold War. He stood up against the dictatorial rule of Communist authorities, and constant surveillance imposition. He was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Charles de Gaulle: A renowned democratic leader who was instrumental in re-establishing democratic rule in France, Charles was a French army officer who led Free France against Nazi Germany during World War II. He actively headed the Provisional Government of the French Republic (1944-1946) fighting for the country’s democratic right.
Dwight D. Eisenhower: This statesman had fought against the authoritarian Nazi-occupied Europe and led the invasion as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War II. He was the 34th U.S. President who had strongly opposed the use of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.
14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso): This revolutionary spiritual leader strived to usher in democratic rule in place of fascist or authoritarian regime in Tibet. He retired in 2011 making way for the democracy to flourish. He has been exiled for his revolt.