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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.


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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  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”.

  2. Why can’t we vote now even though we qre kids and we are much mature that’s not fair? Why can’t we just vote on an early age.

    • Because kids have to grow up and make the right decision, not just any decision. (BTW; I am 11 so I understand as well)

    • You can not vote quite yet, because people of your age lack the knowledge of who or what would be a good thing to vote for. And yes, maturity is important in voting.

    • I find this kind of funny, but kids don’t really know what happens with politics. They don’t know too much about the government. And let’s be honest here, they’re pretty irresponsible. You can’t trust kids. They like to goof off! Well, at least some. And they don’t take anything seriously. Don’t worry, I’m 12, I this feels. But we aren’t responsible enough. Don’t feel bad, you’ll become an adult later on in life. Then, you’ll get to vote, realizing that it isn’t as exciting as you thought. I’m just joking.

      • That idea is stpd. Adults don’t give children enough credit for all that they can do. Children today are more accepting, more diverse, and smarter than any generation before them. They can do a lot and, to be honest, they’re smarter than a lot of adults today. Do you know how many children have gone through a school shooting, watched their friends die in front of them, and adults have given them no voice? So no, children are not irresponsible, and they take quite a lot seriously. Honestly, I would trust them to make a smarter choice that any adult. Us adults need to wake up and realise that it isn’t just our world anymore.

    • I still don’t get what the difference between these are. Can someone explain this in their own words? That would help a lot. Thank You.

  3. Generally the definition of maturity is: Thinking in advance about the possible consequences that can follow a decision that is made and/or an action that is taken. Therefore, a person would necessarily need to have sufficient experience in a realm or knowledge about any given subjects to judge them maturely before making choices. Certainly a very young child is still limited with respect to life experience and may also not yet have been sufficiently educated about the scope of or complexities underling any one subject, in order to make an “informed” decision upon which to base an action to be taken. Generally, that is why young children are to be guided by parental instruction, guidance, counseling and even some forms of retribution so that they can learn about self control and consequences before they act. (Admittedly, according to this definition, there are many adults who have not reached “maturity” with respect to some of the decisions they make – and – at some point, before the legal age for the confirmation of “adulthood” and for voting, some “children” would be very informed and earnest about making wise decisions)
    With respect to voting, that is why education must include sufficient background information about the way men have attempted to govern themselves in the “political” arena throughout history, in order to understand how and why those experiments have either failed or worked successfully. And, then, casting an “informed vote” for a political candidate should likewise include more than simply listening to the rhetoric expoused by the candidates, polls, news reports or political operatives, before we align with a candidate and determine that we will cast our vote for them. That would include also having information about the differences between the platforms of each of the political parties that the candidates represent, so that we can decide which set of principles would provide the greatest good for the government of the people, by the people, for the people in this nation.
    As an “informed voter, with responsibility for the consequences that follow elections, we do need to fully understand the responsibilities a candidate has had in the past and how they have fulfilled them (sometimes that is their voting record on issues) to judge wether they will fulfill the promises of their campaigns. And, then you go to cast your vote also keeping in mind your vote’s stewardship responsibility to the just government of all the people/citizenry, whose welfare is of the upmost interest to the Creator, to Whom all of creation actually belongs and to Whom we owe our primary allegiance when we cast our votes.

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