In a democracy, the structure of political units is like a spider web. There are multiple political units formed based on the similar ideals focusing on different issues. (I.e. Party affiliated groups involving in the issues in a small district)
The relationship among each unit is a contract. The relationship between an individual with the unit is also a contract.
So the basis to judge whether this system is democratic or not, is whether those affected by the policy of that system have the right to participate in determining its composition. You will find that in such structure, compulsory participation is impossible. The participants must at least agree and be willing to join such structure, can such structure be built up.
Therefore, voting is only meaningful when the members of the system have the power to make decisions, and are willing to participate in such system.
Democracy is based on accepting the consequences, rather than succumbing. That means you accept the undesirable result from voting. In an election with 52% against 48%, it is not only the problem of the rate of support and opposition. It is about the acceptance of the democratic system by the two groups.
The spirit of democracy should not be like “I belong to the 52% majority, so you have to listen to me”. Instead, we should focus on the opposition of the 48%. The gist of democracy is not how to grant the power, but how to respect the opposing opinions. When there is nearly a half of opposing population, it means that even the result is theoretically a majority, it is not an overwhelming majority, but a weak one.
In this case, it is a common result to drop the bill for public discussions again. Another voting will not be held until a clearer consensus is built up. So a “majority” does not simply mean “more than a half”, it should mean that “even the society makes such decision, it will not tear up the society”. So democracy is more than voting. It concerns how you treat different opinions.
The myth of 52% against 48% is a totalitarian thinking. Totalitarian thinking emphasizes that “I am stronger/ I am the correct one/ I am the majority”, and therefore the others should obey. Democracy tries to get more supporters, and to win the understanding of those opposing them. Supporters are responsible for implementing the policies. The opposing party accepts the result and monitors the implementation process. So the supporters and opposing parties are cooperating with each other. They are not enemies.
In a democracy, if the two groups are as powerful as the other, but none is willing to concede, it is likely one of them may boycott or refuse to accept the result. In this case, democratic system will collapse. Democracy can only be built up by mutual recognition and acceptance. If they are not accepting the others, there will be no democracy. It will break up into two systems, two states, and two countries.
Here you will come to understand why independence movement and separations arise. They happen when the conflicts among the people in the country are so severe that they are unable to live under the same system. Even there are only three persons in this country: you, I and someone else, but we will stab each other once we see each other, than it is meaningless to vote. We are simply unable to live in the same system even there are only three of us in the country. If I do not honour the voting result of the other two, I am unable to become the member of this system.
That’s why democracy will lead to breakups. Many often overlook an important thing: the severe conflicts of the positions and interests among the groups. Under a totalitarian system, of course there are such conflicts, but the authority will suppress the opposing voices by forces, to annihilate them. A totalitarian regime has the power to cure the symptoms, but not the disease itself. To cure the disease concerns more about the capability to resolve conflicts than whether the system is totalitarian or democratic.
Democracy is like marriage. If you don’t know how to behave after marriage, you are in the risk of separation. Democracy provides a framework for the two to accommodate each other. That’s why tolerance is the spirit of democracy. A society lack of tolerance but full of selfishness will easily fall back from democracy to totalitarianism.
A corrupt democracy can fall back to totalitarianism. It is not immortal.