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Difference Between Direct and Representative Democracy

Direct vs Representative Democracy

Democracy is a form of government wherein citizens are allowed to govern themselves by letting them participate in the formulation and passage of laws and in deciding what is best for them. Its most basic characteristics are freedom and equality.

Although democracy had been practiced in ancient Mesopotamia, India, and Phoenicia, it was thought to have originated in ancient Greece particularly in the city state of Athens. Athenian democracy was a direct democracy.
Direct democracy is also known as pure democracy. In a direct democracy, citizens propose, decide, and change Constitutional laws; initiate referendums; and choose and remove public officials who are not effectively doing their jobs.

It is practiced in Switzerland which approves laws using a single majority in the town, city, and canton levels and a double majority in the national level. Laws are proposed by its citizens and must be approved by a majority of the voters and a majority of the cantons or administrative divisions.
Although there are also political parties in direct democracies like Switzerland, they make sure that the decision of the majority is upheld; deciding issues on their merits, and keeping representatives from compromising the values of the people and their own.

Most citizens of direct democracies are very active in their governments since they influence every issue and decision that their governments take. In governments that have large populations, having a direct democracy can be difficult.
Most of them, like the United States of America and the United Kingdom, advocate a representative democracy. Citizens elect or choose a government official to represent them in the Senate or Congress. They may propose laws that can benefit the community that they represent.

Although it is always assumed that representatives have the people’s best interests in mind, they do not always follow what most of them really want. They can be influenced by other factors and decide according to what they think is important. Most representative democracies also have some features that are present in direct democracies, though. They hold referendums wherein citizens can vote directly on whether to pass or reject a certain law, initiate amendments to laws, and recall or remove public officials.

Summary:

1.A direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of government wherein the citizens have a direct say in the formulation of laws and issues that affect them while a representative democracy is a form of government wherein its citizens vote for or elect a representative to represent them in Congress or the Senate.
2.Although citizens of both a direct democracy and a representative democracy vote in referendums and elect or remove public officials, in a direct democracy their decisions are always upheld while in a representative democracy, the representative may or may not consider their decisions and act on his own.
3.A direct democracy is suitable only for small communities or countries while most countries with large populations opt for a representative government.
4.In a direct democracy, citizens are more actively involved in their government while citizens of a representative democracy oftentimes let their representatives decide on issues for them.


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2 Comments

  1. ‘representative democracy’ is a lie. one person can not represent 100, 000. such politicians are the inheritors of war lords and rule nations whose people have never been citizens, only serfs, or commoners.

    these politicians rule for themselves, and the patrons whose money funds the elections that have evolved from civil war, becoming the non-violent counting of ballots instead of flights of arrows and volleys of bullets.

    democracy means ‘rule by the people.’ it is not ‘rule by politicians.’ rule by politician is simply oligarchy, often elective oligarchy, but nothing to do with democracy.

    • Yes. And it’s admitted.

      So if you read your average political studies, or political science book, near the introduction, there is the admission that the principles of ‘representative democracy’ don’t translate “because of the development of political parties and the modern media”.

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