History of Parliamentary Democracy

The concept of parliamentary democracy has roots that stretch back thousands of years. The word parliament is derived from the French word parler, which means to speak. The word democracy comes from the Greek word demos, meaning people, and kratia, meaning rule. Therefore, democracy literally means "the people’s rule". This concept dates back about 2,500 years ago to ancient Greece.

Our system of parliamentary democracy developed over many centuries in England and can be traced back to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. This charter attacked the absolute powers of the crown and guaranteed fundamental rights and privileges for citizens. Over time, the Magna Carta was revised, requiring the Monarch to govern with Parliament to gain consent for taxes. Parliament eventually established further rights which would make it even stronger – this became known as parliamentary privilege. In the late 17th century, a Declaration of Rights was issued by Parliament, affirming the rights of British subjects and establishing Parliament’s supremacy over the Crown.