• Jan 1, 1215


    Nobles forced King John to sign the Magna Carta establishing written law as a higher power than the rights of the king. The transfer of some power from the king to the nobles introduced basic freedom and property rights to "free men".
  • England

    The Bill of Rights legally established the civil and political rights that an English citizen living within a constitutional monarchy ought to have. The Tory faction, later the Conservatives, emerged in this period, heralding the birth of the party system.
  • Ending 20 Years Of Diplomacy

    Thirty-eight Indian nations signed a peace treaty near Montreal with the French, ending 20 years of diplomacy.
  • U.S.A.

    Arguably the oldest written democratic constitution, The US constitution, established a federal system of government. Separating the powers, of president, Congress and judiciary is intended to stop the abuse of power. Slaves and women cannot vote.
  • France

    French Revolution, a period of political upheaval which saw the removal of King Louis XVI who is later executed. Power is transferred from an absolute monarchy to a republic based on citizenship and the rights of the people, although women cannot vote.
  • Australia

    The first secret ballot was reportedly held in the former Australian colony, now state, of Tasmania on 7 February 1856. Ballot papers with the names of those standing are printed at public expense. Secret balloting subsequently spreads to other countries.
  • Candian Electon

    Canada elected the first Prime Minister, which was Sir John A. MacDonald
  • Britain

    Second Reform Act virtually doubled the size of the electorate by increasing the number of men who could vote. All male householders were given the right to vote and lodgers paying £10 a year rent.
  • Finland

    Women achieved the right to vote and to stand for election. Suffragettes in Britain adopt disruptive tactics in their bid for enfranchisement. Women's work in World War I munitions factories proves a turning point and in 1918 women over 30 gain the vote.
  • India

    Indian independence marks the beginning of the end of the British Empire as anti-colonial nationalist movements challenge the imperialist power. Three years later India becomes a republic and the largest democracy in the world.
  • South Africa

    Apartheid is a system of racial segregation in South Africa developed by Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, where blacks are disenfranchised in "white" South Africa and only allowed to vote in the homelands, which are very poor economically.
  • US 1955-68

    Combining civil disobedience with direct legal action, the African-American Civil Rights Movement reversed 19th century racist legislation and denial of votes in many southern states. The Montgomery bus boycott, led by Martin Luther King, proves a turning point
  • South Africa

    South Africa - Nelson Mandela became the first democratically-elected president of a multi-racial South Africa. The beginning of the end of apartheid came with his release from prison in 1990.
  • Afghanistan

    After the overthrow of the Taleban, Mohammed Karzai became the country's first directly elected president. Parliamentary and provincial elections take place in 2005, for the first time in more than 30 years.
  • Greece

    508 BC - Greece:
    Based on "rule by the people" the Greeks evolved a system of government which they called democracy from the Greek for demos (people) and kratein (rule). Although all women and slaves were excluded, all male citizens were members of the assembly and were able to vote.