Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Socialist And Democrat



A socialist is one who supports socialism—a concept of a socio-economic and political system where states (governments) own all or most productive resources and primarily undertakes production and distribution of goods. Whatever is carried out by the private enterprises is regulated by the state in such a way that the interests of the masses prevail over the profit motive.

Socialists believe in different forms of socialism according to the degree of control of the state (government) in the economic functioning of a country. As socialism gave rise to political movements across the world, various moderate and extremist versions of the concept were born at different points in time. “Marxism” was the most dominant of all such versions that played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Soviet Union as the first socialist government in the world. However, even after the emergence of the Soviet Union, the pre-Soviet models of socialism went through a long process of evolution and stood the test of time. The fall of the Soviet Union marked the fall of communism and paved the way to the partial revival of the moderate socialism as an alternative economic system.

Socialists differ in their ideas about the types of political institutions and practices to be in force, subject to their attitudes toward civil liberties and the personal freedom to take political participation. Social Democracy, for example, comes as an acceptable formulation to many socialists. It supports state intervention to ensure social justice within the framework of capitalism and equitable redistribution of income and wealth. Social democrats believe that this is the best way to effect a peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism.


A democrat is a believer in democracy, which is a system of government where supreme power is vested in people who exercise it by participating in the process of electing their representatives. Democracy upholds human rights of all citizens and ensures that laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.

Like socialism, democracy, too, has various forms. Direct democracy allows its citizens to actively and directly participate in political decision making. In representative democracy, people exercise their power through their elected representatives. In some countries, there is a provision of direct democracy within representative democracy such as a referendum on specific issues, subject to the approval of the parliament. Most Western countries have opted for the representative system.

Even representative democracy has two forms—parliamentary and presidential. In a parliamentary system, the government is appointed and or dismissed by the people’s representatives. Dismissal of government is done through a “vote of no confidence,” in which decision of the majority of the legislature decides the fate of the government.

Alternatively, a Prime Minister can also call an election before it is due if he or she feels that his or her party is in a position to win the voters and come back to power. In times of crisis, too, when a government’s credibility graph shows a downward trend, the Prime Minister, along with ministerial colleagues, may resign and seek fresh mandates.

In the presidential form of democracy, the President is elected by the public through a free and fair election. As the head of state, the President controls maximum executive powers, including selection and appointment of cabinet ministers. Except under special circumstances, the President cannot be removed by the legislature, nor can the members of the legislature be removed by the President, leading to a separation of power.

Constitutional monarchy is another form of democracy where powerful monarchs play a symbolic role without interfering with the democratic functioning of the state.


Both socialism and democracy have so many schools of thought that there is no single definition of either “socialist” or “democrat.” The terms only give you a broad idea of what political and economic system they stand by.

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