Democracy: Definition

Democracy: Definition

  • Democracy can be defined as a type of government in which power lies with the people. The people can rule directly or through elected representatives.

  • In a direct democracy, all citizens, without the intermediary of elected or appointed officials, can participate in making public decisions.

  • In a representative democracy, also known as indirect democracy, people elect representatives to law making bodies who then make decisions on their behalf.

  • Liberal democracies are a type of representative democracy where the ability of the elected representatives to exercise decision-making power is subject to the rule of law, and moderated by a constitution that emphasizes protecting individual liberties. They are characterised by free and fair elections between multiple distinct political parties.

  • Constitutional democracies involve a legal framework which limits the powers of government and guarantees certain rights to citizens.

  • The term social democracy refers to a political ideology that aims to extend democratic principles beyond political life to the economic realm.

  • Important elements of democracy include: pluralism, citizen rule, majority rule, government accountability, transparency and fundamental rights.

  • Democracies also typically involve political competition, political equality and political freedom. Politics is competitive in a democracy in the sense that citizens are free to organize themselves into political parties and compete in elections.

  • Democracy does not necessarily guarantee political stability, economic prosperity, or societal harmony, but it provides the most equitable and inclusive process for managing the inevitable disagreements and conflicts within a society.