Democracy (Greek: δημοκρατία dēmokratía, literally "rule
of the people"), in modern usage, is a system of government in which
the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from
among themselves to form a governing body, such as a parliament.
Democracy is sometimes referred to as "rule of the majority".
Democracy is a system of processing conflicts in which outcomes depend
on what participants do, but no single force controls what occurs and
The uncertainty of outcomes is inherent in democracy, which makes all
forces struggle repeatedly for the realization of their interests,
being the devolution of power from a group of people to a set of
rules. Western democracy, as distinct from that which existed in
pre-modern societies, is generally considered to have originated in
city states such as
Classical Athens and the Roman Republic, where
various schemes and degrees of enfranchisement of the free male
population were observed before the form disappeared in the West at
the beginning of late antiquity. The English word dates to the 16th
century, from the older
Middle French and
Middle Latin equivalents.
According to political scientist Larry Diamond, democracy consists of
four key elements: a political system for choosing and replacing the
government through free and fair elections; the active participation
of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life; protection of
the human rights of all citizens; a rule of law, in which the laws and
procedures apply equally to all citizens.
The term appeared in the 5th century BC, to denote the political
systems then existing in Greek city-states, notably Athens, to mean
"rule of the people", in contrast to aristocracy
(ἀριστοκρατία, aristokratía), meaning "rule of an
elite". While theoretically these definitions are in opposition, in
practice the distinction has been blurred historically. The
political system of Classical Athens, for example, granted democratic
citizenship to free men and excluded slaves and women from political
participation. In virtually all democratic governments throughout
ancient and modern history, democratic citizenship consisted of an
elite class until full enfranchisement was won for all adult citizens
in most modern democracies through the suffrage movements of the 19th
and 20th centuries.
Democracy contrasts with forms of government where power is either
held by an individual, as in an absolute monarchy, or where power is
held by a small number of individuals, as in an oligarchy.
Nevertheless, these oppositions, inherited from Greek philosophy,
are now ambiguous because contemporary governments have mixed
democratic, oligarchic, and monarchic elements.
Karl Popper defined
democracy in contrast to dictatorship or tyranny, thus focusing on
opportunities for the people to control their leaders and to oust them
without the need for a revolution.
2.1 Ancient origins
2.2 Middle Ages
2.3 Modern era
2.3.1 Early modern period
2.3.2 18th and 19th centuries
2.3.3 20th and 21st centuries
3 Measurement of democracy
4 Types of governmental democracies
4.1 Basic forms
4.1.3 Hybrid or semi-direct
4.2.1 Constitutional monarchy
4.2.3 Liberal democracy
4.2.11 Participatory politics
4.2.13 Creative democracy
4.2.14 Guided democracy
5 Non-governmental democracy
6.2 Early Republican theory
7.2 Popular rule as a façade
7.3 Mob rule
7.4 Political instability
7.5 Fraudulent elections
9 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
Most democratic (closest to 10)
Least democratic (closest to 0)
Democracy's de facto status in the world as of 2017, according to
Democracy Index by The Economist
Democracy's de jure status in the world as of 2008; only Saudi Arabia,
Brunei and the Vatican officially admit to be undemocratic
No consensus exists on how to define democracy, but legal equality,
political freedom and rule of law have been identified as important
characteristics. These principles are reflected in all eligible
citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to
legislative processes. For example, in a
representative democracy, every vote has equal weight, no unreasonable
restrictions can apply to anyone seeking to become a
representative,[according to whom?] and the freedom of its eligible
citizens is secured by legitimised rights and liberties which are
typically protected by a constitution. Other uses of
"democracy" include that of direct democracy.
One theory holds that democracy requires three fundamental principles:
upward control (sovereignty residing at the lowest levels of
authority), political equality, and social norms by which individuals
and institutions only consider acceptable acts that reflect the first
two principles of upward control and political equality.
The term "democracy" is sometimes used as shorthand for liberal
democracy, which is a variant of representative democracy that may
include elements such as political pluralism; equality before the law;
the right to petition elected officials for redress of grievances; due
process; civil liberties; human rights; and elements of civil society
outside the government.
Roger Scruton argues that
democracy alone cannot provide personal and political freedom unless
the institutions of civil society are also present.
In some countries, notably in the
United Kingdom which originated the
Westminster system, the dominant principle is that of parliamentary
sovereignty, while maintaining judicial independence. In the
United States, separation of powers is often cited as a central
attribute. In India, parliamentary sovereignty is subject to the
India which includes judicial review. Though the
term "democracy" is typically used in the context of a political
state, the principles also are applicable to private organisations.
Majority rule is often listed as a characteristic of democracy. Hence,
democracy allows for political minorities to be oppressed by the
"tyranny of the majority" in the absence of legal protections of
individual or group rights. An essential part of an "ideal"
representative democracy is competitive elections that are
substantively and procedurally "fair," i.e., just and equitable. In
some countries, freedom of political expression, freedom of speech,
freedom of the press, and internet democracy are considered important
to ensure that voters are well informed, enabling them to vote
according to their own interests.
It has also been suggested that a basic feature of democracy is the
capacity of all voters to participate freely and fully in the life of
their society. With its emphasis on notions of social contract and
the collective will of all the voters, democracy can also be
characterised as a form of political collectivism because it is
defined as a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an
equal say in lawmaking.
While representative democracy is sometimes equated with the
republican form of government, the term "republic" classically has
encompassed both democracies and aristocracies. Many
democracies are constitutional monarchies, such as the United Kingdom.
Nineteenth-century painting by
Philipp Foltz depicting the Athenian
Pericles delivering his famous funeral oration in front of
Main article: History of democracy
See also: Athenian democracy
The term "democracy" first appeared in ancient Greek political and
philosophical thought in the city-state of
Athens during classical
antiquity. The word comes from demos, "common people" and
kratos, strength. Led by Cleisthenes, Athenians established what
is generally held as the first democracy in 508–507 BC. Cleisthenes
is referred to as "the father of Athenian democracy."
Athenian democracy took the form of a direct democracy, and it had two
distinguishing features: the random selection of ordinary citizens to
fill the few existing government administrative and judicial
offices, and a legislative assembly consisting of all Athenian
citizens. All eligible citizens were allowed to speak and vote in
the assembly, which set the laws of the city state. However, Athenian
citizenship excluded women, slaves, foreigners (μέτοικοι /
métoikoi), non-landowners, and men under 20 years of age.[citation
needed][contradictory] The exclusion of large parts of the
population from the citizen body is closely related to the ancient
understanding of citizenship. In most of antiquity the benefit of
citizenship was tied to the obligation to fight war campaigns.
Athenian democracy was not only direct in the sense that decisions
were made by the assembled people, but also the most direct in the
sense that the people through the assembly, boule and courts of law
controlled the entire political process and a large proportion of
citizens were involved constantly in the public business. Even
though the rights of the individual were not secured by the Athenian
constitution in the modern sense (the ancient Greeks had no word for
"rights"), the Athenians enjoyed their liberties not in opposition
to the government but by living in a city that was not subject to
another power and by not being subjects themselves to the rule of
Range voting appeared in
Sparta as early as 700 BC. The
Apella was an
assembly of the people, held once a month, in which every male citizen
of at least 30 years of age could participate. In the Apella, Spartans
elected leaders and cast votes by range voting and shouting. Aristotle
called this "childish", as compared with the stone voting ballots used
by the Athenians.
Sparta adopted it because of its simplicity, and to
prevent any bias voting, buying, or cheating that was predominant in
the early democratic elections.
Even though the Roman
Republic contributed significantly to many
aspects of democracy, only a minority of Romans were citizens with
votes in elections for representatives. The votes of the powerful were
given more weight through a system of gerrymandering, so most high
officials, including members of the Senate, came from a few wealthy
and noble families. In addition, the Roman
Republic was the first
government in the western world to have a
Republic as a nation-state,
although it didn't have much of a democracy. The Romans invented the
concept of classics and many works from Ancient Greece were
preserved. Additionally, the Roman model of governance inspired
many political thinkers over the centuries, and today's modern
representative democracies imitate more the Roman than the Greek
models because it was a state in which supreme power was held by the
people and their elected representatives, and which had an elected or
nominated leader. Other cultures, such as the
Iroquois Nation in
the Americas between around 1450 and 1600 AD also developed a form of
democratic society before they came in contact with the Europeans.
This indicates that forms of democracy may have been invented in other
societies around the world.
During the Middle Ages, there were various systems involving elections
or assemblies, although often only involving a small part of the
population. These included:
the Frostating, Gulating,
Borgarting in Norway,
Althing in Iceland,
Løgting in the Faeroe Islands,
the election of Uthman in the Rashidun Caliphate,
the South Indian Kingdom of the
Chola in the state of
Tamil Nadu in
Indian Subcontinent had an electoral system at 920 A.D., about
1100 years ago,
Carantania, old Slavic/Slovenian principality, the Ducal Inauguration
from 7th to 15th century,
the upper-caste election of the Gopala in the
Bengal region of the
the Holy Roman Empire's
Hoftag and Imperial Diets (mostly Nobles and
Frisia in the 10th–15th Century (Weight of vote based on
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (10% of population),
certain medieval Italian city-states such as Venice, Genoa, Florence,
Pisa, Lucca, Amalfi,
Siena and San Marino
the Cortes of León,
the tuatha system in early medieval Ireland,
Veche in Novgorod and Pskov Republics of medieval Russia,
The States in Tirol and Switzerland,
the autonomous merchant city of Sakai in the 16th century in Japan,
Volta-Nigeric societies such as Igbo.
the Mekhk-Khel system of the
Nakh peoples of the North Caucasus, by
which representatives to the Council of Elders for each teip (clan)
were popularly elected by that teip's members.
The 10th Sikh
Guru Gobind Singh
Guru Gobind Singh ji (Nanak X) established the world's
first Sikh democratic republic state ending the aristocracy on day of
1st Vasakh 1699 and Gurbani as sole constitution of this Sikh republic
on the Indian subcontinent.
Most regions in medieval Europe were ruled by clergy or feudal lords.
Kouroukan Fouga divided the Mali
Empire into ruling clans
(lineages) that were represented at a great assembly called the Gbara.
However, the charter made Mali more similar to a constitutional
monarchy than a democratic republic.
Magna Carta, 1215, England
Parliament of England had its roots in the restrictions on the
power of kings written into
Magna Carta (1215), which explicitly
protected certain rights of the King's subjects and implicitly
supported what became the English writ of habeas corpus, safeguarding
individual freedom against unlawful imprisonment with right to
appeal. The first representative national assembly in England
was Simon de Montfort's
Parliament in 1265. The emergence of
petitioning is some of the earliest evidence of parliament being used
as a forum to address the general grievances of ordinary people.
However, the power to call parliament remained at the pleasure of the
Early modern period
In 17th century England, there was renewed interest in Magna
Parliament of England passed the
Petition of Right
Petition of Right in
1628 which established certain liberties for subjects. The English
War (1642–1651) was fought between the King and an oligarchic
but elected Parliament, during which the idea of a political
party took form with groups debating rights to political
representation during the
Putney Debates of 1647. Subsequently,
the Protectorate (1653-59) and the
English Restoration (1660) restored
more autocratic rule, although
Parliament passed the Habeas Corpus Act
in 1679 which strengthened the convention that forbade detention
lacking sufficient cause or evidence. After the
Glorious Revolution of
1688, the Bill of
Rights was enacted in 1689 which codified certain
rights and liberties, and is still in effect. The Bill set out the
requirement for regular elections, rules for freedom of speech in
Parliament and limited the power of the monarch, ensuring that, unlike
much of Europe at the time, royal absolutism would not
In the Cossack republics of
Ukraine in the 16th and 17th centuries,
Cossack Hetmanate and Zaporizhian Sich, the holder of the highest
post of Hetman was elected by the representatives from the country's
In North America, representative government began in Jamestown,
Virginia, with the election of the
House of Burgesses
House of Burgesses (forerunner of
the Virginia General Assembly) in 1619. English
Puritans who migrated
from 1620 established colonies in
New England whose local governance
was democratic and which contributed to the democratic development of
the United States; although these local assemblies had some small
amounts of devolved power, the ultimate authority was held by the
Crown and the English Parliament. The
Puritans (Pilgrim Fathers),
Quakers who founded these colonies applied the
democratic organisation of their congregations also to the
administration of their communities in worldly matters.
18th and 19th centuries
Scene at the Signing of the
Constitution of the
United States by
Howard Chandler Christy.
The establishment of universal male suffrage in
France in 1848 was an
important milestone in the history of democracy.
Parliament of Great Britain was established in 1707, after
the merger of the
Kingdom of England
Kingdom of England and the
Kingdom of Scotland
Kingdom of Scotland under
the Acts of Union. Although the monarch increasingly became a
figurehead, only a small minority actually had a voice; Parliament
was elected by only a few percent of the population (less than 3% as
late as 1780). During the
Age of Liberty
Age of Liberty in Sweden (1718–1772),
civil rights were expanded and power shifted from the monarch to
parliament. The taxed peasantry was represented in parliament,
although with little influence, but commoners without taxed property
had no suffrage.
The creation of the short-lived Corsican
Republic in 1755 marked the
first nation in modern history to adopt a democratic constitution (all
men and women above age of 25 could vote). This Corsican
Constitution was the first based on Enlightenment principles and
included female suffrage, something that was not granted in most other
democracies until the 20th century.
In the American colonial period before 1776, and for some time after,
often only adult white male property owners could vote; enslaved
Africans, most free black people and most women were not extended the
franchise. On the American frontier, democracy became a way of
life, with more widespread social, economic and political
equality. Although not described as a democracy by the founding
fathers, they shared a determination to root the American
experiment in the principles of natural freedom and equality.
American Revolution led to the adoption of the United States
Constitution in 1787, the oldest surviving, still active, governmental
codified constitution. The
Constitution provided for an elected
government and protected civil rights and liberties for some, but did
not end slavery nor extend voting rights in the
United States beyond
white male property owners (about 6% of the population). The Bill
Rights in 1791 set limits on government power to protect personal
freedoms but had little impact on judgements by the courts for the
first 130 years after ratification.
Statue of Athena, the patron goddess of Athens, in front of the
Athena has been used as an international
symbol of freedom and democracy since at least the late eighteenth
Revolutionary France adopted the Declaration of the
Man and of the Citizen and, although short-lived, the National
Convention was elected by all men in 1792. However, in the early
19th century, little of democracy – as theory, practice, or even as
word – remained in the North Atlantic world.
During this period, slavery remained a social and economic institution
in places around the world. This was particularly the case in the
United States, and especially in the last fifteen slave states that
kept slavery legal in the American South until the Civil War. A
variety of organisations were established advocating the movement of
black people from the
United States to locations where they would
enjoy greater freedom and equality.
The United Kingdom's
Slave Trade Act 1807
Slave Trade Act 1807 banned the trade across the
British Empire, which was enforced internationally by the Royal Navy
under treaties Britain negotiated with other nations. As the
voting franchise in the U.K. was increased, it also was made more
uniform in a series of reforms beginning with the Reform Act 1832. In
United Kingdom passed the
Slavery Abolition Act which took
effect across the British Empire.
Universal male suffrage
Universal male suffrage was established in
France in March 1848 in the
wake of the French
Revolution of 1848. In 1848, several
revolutions broke out in Europe as rulers were confronted with popular
demands for liberal constitutions and more democratic government.
In the 1860
United States Census, the slave population in the United
States had grown to four million, and in Reconstruction after the
War (late 1860s), the newly freed slaves became citizens with a
nominal right to vote for men. Full enfranchisement of citizens was
not secured until after the Civil
Rights Movement gained passage by
United States Congress of the
Rights Act of 1965.
20th and 21st centuries
The number of nations 1800–2003 scoring 8 or higher on
scale, another widely used measure of democracy
20th-century transitions to liberal democracy have come in successive
"waves of democracy", variously resulting from wars, revolutions,
decolonisation, and religious and economic circumstances. Global
waves of "democratic regression" reversing democratization, have also
occurred in the 1920s and 30s, in the 1960s and 1970s, and in the
World War I
World War I and the dissolution of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian
empires resulted in the creation of new nation-states from Europe,
most of them at least nominally democratic.
In the 1920s democracy flourished and women's suffrage advanced, but
Great Depression brought disenchantment and most of the countries
of Europe, Latin America, and Asia turned to strong-man rule or
Fascism and dictatorships flourished in Nazi Germany,
Spain and Portugal, as well as non-democratic governments in
the Baltics, the Balkans, Brazil, Cuba, China, and Japan, among
World War II
World War II brought a definitive reversal of this trend in western
Europe. The democratisation of the American, British, and French
sectors of occupied Germany (disputed), Austria, Italy, and the
Japan served as a model for the later theory of government
change. However, most of Eastern Europe, including the Soviet sector
of Germany fell into the non-democratic Soviet bloc.
The war was followed by decolonisation, and again most of the new
independent states had nominally democratic constitutions. India
emerged as the world's largest democracy and continues to be so.
Countries that were once part of the British
Empire often adopted the
British Westminster system.
By 1960, the vast majority of country-states were nominally
democracies, although most of the world's populations lived in nations
that experienced sham elections, and other forms of subterfuge
(particularly in "Communist" nations and the former colonies.)
A subsequent wave of democratisation brought substantial gains toward
true liberal democracy for many nations. Spain,
Portugal (1974), and
several of the military dictatorships in South America returned to
civilian rule in the late 1970s and early 1980s (Argentina in 1983,
Bolivia, Uruguay in 1984,
Brazil in 1985, and Chile in the early
1990s). This was followed by nations in East and
South Asia by the
Economic malaise in the 1980s, along with resentment of Soviet
oppression, contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the
associated end of the Cold War, and the democratisation and
liberalisation of the former
Eastern bloc countries. The most
successful of the new democracies were those geographically and
culturally closest to western Europe, and they are now members or
candidate members of the European Union. In 1986, after the toppling
of the most prominent Asian dictatorship, the only democratic state of
its kind at the time emerged in the
Philippines with the rise of
Corazon Aquino, who would later be known as the Mother of Asian
Corazon Aquino taking the Oath of Office, becoming the first female
president in Asia
The liberal trend spread to some nations in Africa in the 1990s, most
prominently in South Africa. Some recent examples of attempts of
liberalisation include the Indonesian
Revolution of 1998, the
Revolution in Yugoslavia, the
Rose Revolution in Georgia,
Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the
Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, the
Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, and the Jasmine
Revolution in Tunisia.
According to Freedom House, in 2007 there were 123 electoral
democracies (up from 40 in 1972). According to World Forum on
Democracy, electoral democracies now represent 120 of the 192 existing
countries and constitute 58.2 percent of the world's population. At
the same time liberal democracies i.e. countries
Freedom House regards
as free and respectful of basic human rights and the rule of law are
85 in number and represent 38 percent of the global population.
Most electoral democracies continue to exclude those younger than 18
from voting. The voting age has been lowered to 16 for national
elections in a number of countries, including Brazil, Austria, Cuba,
and Nicaragua. In California, a 2004 proposal to permit a quarter vote
at 14 and a half vote at 16 was ultimately defeated. In 2008, the
German parliament proposed but shelved a bill that would grant the
vote to each citizen at birth, to be used by a parent until the child
claims it for themselves.
In 2007 the
United Nations declared September 15 the International Day
According to Freedom House, starting in 2005, there have been eleven
consecutive years in which declines in political rights and civil
liberties throughout the world have outnumbered improvements, as
populist and nationalist political forces have gained ground
everywhere from Poland (under the
Law and Justice
Law and Justice Party) to the
Philippines (under Rodrigo Duterte).
Measurement of democracy
Country ratings from the US based Freedom House's Freedom in the World
2017 survey, concerning the state of world freedom in 2016
Free (86) Partly Free (59) Not
Countries designated "electoral democracies" in Freedom
House's 2017 survey "Freedom in the World", covering the year 2016
Several freedom indices are published by several organisations
according to their own various definitions of the term:
Freedom in the World
Freedom in the World published each year since 1972 by the U.S.-based
Freedom House ranks countries by political rights and civil liberties
that are derived in large measure from the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights. Countries are assessed as free, partly free, or
Worldwide Press Freedom Index
Worldwide Press Freedom Index is published each year since 2002
(except that 2011 was combined with 2012) by France-based Reporters
Without Borders. Countries are assessed as having a good situation, a
satisfactory situation, noticeable problems, a difficult situation, or
a very serious situation.
The Index of
Freedom in the World
Freedom in the World is an index measuring classical
civil liberties published by Canada's Fraser Institute, Germany's
Liberales Institute, and the U.S. Cato Institute. It is not
currently included in the table below.
CIRI Human Rights Data Project measures a range of human, civil,
women's and workers rights. It is now hosted by the University of
Connecticut. It was created in 1994. In its 2011 report, the U.S.
was ranked 38th in overall human rights.
Democracy Index, published by the U.K.-based Economist
Intelligence Unit, is an assessment of countries' democracy. Countries
are rated to be either Full Democracies, Flawed Democracies, Hybrid
Regimes, or Authoritarian regimes. Full democracies, flawed
democracies, and hybrid regimes are considered to be democracies, and
the authoritarian nations are considered to be dictatorial. The index
is based on 60 indicators grouped in five different categories.
Polity data series
Polity data series is a widely used data series in
political science research. It contains coded annual information on
regime authority characteristics and transitions for all independent
states with greater than 500,000 total population and covers the years
1800–2006. Polity's conclusions about a state's level of democracy
are based on an evaluation of that state's elections for
competitiveness, openness and level of participation. Data from this
series is not currently included in the table below. The
is sponsored by the
Political Instability Task Force (PITF) which is
funded by the U.S. Central
Intelligence Agency. However, the views
expressed in the reports are the authors' alone and do not represent
the views of the US Government.
MaxRange, a dataset defining level of democracy and institutional
structure(regime-type) on a 100-graded scale where every value
represents a unique regime type. Values are sorted from 1–100 based
on level of democracy and political accountability. MaxRange defines
the value corresponding to all states and every month from 1789 to
2015 and updating. MaxRange is created and developed by Max Range, and
is now associated with the university of Halmstad, Sweden.
Types of governmental democracies
Main article: Types of democracy
Democracy has taken a number of forms, both in theory and practice.
Some varieties of democracy provide better representation and more
freedom for their citizens than others. However, if any
democracy is not structured so as to prohibit the government from
excluding the people from the legislative process, or any branch of
government from altering the separation of powers in its own favour,
then a branch of the system can accumulate too much power and destroy
World's states coloured by form of government1
Full presidential republics2
Parliamentary republics with an
executive president dependent on the legislature
Parliamentary constitutional monarchies
Constitutional monarchies which have a
separate head of government but where royalty still hold significant
executive and/or legislative power
Countries where constitutional
provisions for government have been suspended (e.g. military
Countries which do not fit any of the
1This map was compiled according to the list of countries by
system of government. See there for sources. 2Several states
constitutionally deemed to be multiparty republics are broadly
described by outsiders as authoritarian states. This map presents only
the de jure form of government, and not the de facto degree of
The following kinds of democracy are not exclusive of one another:
many specify details of aspects that are independent of one another
and can co-exist in a single system.
Several variants of democracy exist, but there are two basic forms,
both of which concern how the whole body of all eligible citizens
executes its will. One form of democracy is direct democracy, in which
all eligible citizens have active participation in the political
decision making, for example voting on policy initiatives
directly. In most modern democracies, the whole body of eligible
citizens remain the sovereign power but political power is exercised
indirectly through elected representatives; this is called a
Landsgemeinde (in 2009) of the Canton of Glarus, an example of
direct democracy in Switzerland
In Switzerland, without needing to register, every citizen receives
ballot papers and information brochures for each vote (and can send it
back by post).
Switzerland has a direct democracy system and votes are
organised about four times a year.
Main article: Direct democracy
Direct democracy is a political system where the citizens participate
in the decision-making personally, contrary to relying on
intermediaries or representatives. The use of a lot system, a
characteristic of Athenian democracy, is unique to direct democracies.
In this system, important governmental and administrative tasks are
performed by citizens picked from a lottery. A direct democracy
gives the voting population the power to:
Change constitutional laws,
Put forth initiatives, referendums and suggestions for laws,
Give binding orders to elective officials, such as revoking them
before the end of their elected term, or initiating a lawsuit for
breaking a campaign promise.
Within modern-day representative governments, certain electoral tools
like referendums, citizens' initiatives and recall elections are
referred to as forms of direct democracy.
Direct democracy as a
government system currently exists in the Swiss cantons of Appenzell
Innerrhoden and Glarus, and Kurdish cantons of Rojava.
Main article: Representative democracy
Representative democracy involves the election of government officials
by the people being represented. If the head of state is also
democratically elected then it is called a democratic republic.
The most common mechanisms involve election of the candidate with a
majority or a plurality of the votes. Most western countries have
Representatives may be elected or become diplomatic representatives by
a particular district (or constituency), or represent the entire
electorate through proportional systems, with some using a combination
of the two. Some representative democracies also incorporate elements
of direct democracy, such as referendums. A characteristic of
representative democracy is that while the representatives are elected
by the people to act in the people's interest, they retain the freedom
to exercise their own judgement as how best to do so. Such reasons
have driven criticism upon representative democracy,
pointing out the contradictions of representation mechanisms with
Main article: Parliamentary system
Parliamentary democracy is a representative democracy where government
is appointed by, or can be dismissed by, representatives as opposed to
a "presidential rule" wherein the president is both head of state and
the head of government and is elected by the voters. Under a
parliamentary democracy, government is exercised by delegation to an
executive ministry and subject to ongoing review, checks and balances
by the legislative parliament elected by the
Parliamentary systems have the right to dismiss a
Prime Minister at
any point in time that they feel he or she is not doing their job to
the expectations of the legislature. This is done through a Vote of No
Confidence where the legislature decides whether or not to remove the
Prime Minister from office by a majority support for his or her
dismissal. In some countries, the
Prime Minister can also call an
election whenever he or she so chooses, and typically the Prime
Minister will hold an election when he or she knows that they are in
good favour with the public as to get re-elected. In other
parliamentary democracies extra elections are virtually never held, a
minority government being preferred until the next ordinary elections.
An important feature of the parliamentary democracy is the concept of
the "loyal opposition". The essence of the concept is that the second
largest political party (or coalition) opposes the governing party (or
coalition), while still remaining loyal to the state and its
Main article: Presidential system
Democracy is a system where the public elects the
president through free and fair elections. The president serves as
both the head of state and head of government controlling most of the
executive powers. The president serves for a specific term and cannot
exceed that amount of time.
Elections typically have a fixed date and
aren't easily changed. The president has direct control over the
cabinet, specifically appointing the cabinet members.
The president cannot be easily removed from office by the legislature,
but he or she cannot remove members of the legislative branch any more
easily. This provides some measure of separation of powers. In
consequence however, the president and the legislature may end up in
the control of separate parties, allowing one to block the other and
thereby interfere with the orderly operation of the state. This may be
the reason why presidential democracy is not very common outside the
Americas, Africa, and Central and Southeast Asia.
A semi-presidential system is a system of democracy in which the
government includes both a prime minister and a president. The
particular powers held by the prime minister and president vary by
Hybrid or semi-direct
Voting in Switzerland
Some modern democracies that are predominantly representative in
nature also heavily rely upon forms of political action that are
directly democratic. These democracies, which combine elements of
representative democracy and direct democracy, are termed hybrid
democracies, semi-direct democracies or participatory
democracies. Examples include
Switzerland and some U.S. states, where
frequent use is made of referendums and initiatives.
Swiss confederation is a semi-direct democracy. At the
federal level, citizens can propose changes to the constitution
(federal popular initiative) or ask for a referendum to be held on any
law voted by the parliament. Between January 1995 and June 2005,
Swiss citizens voted 31 times, to answer 103 questions (during the
same period, French citizens participated in only two
referendums). Although in the past 120 years less than 250
initiatives have been put to referendum. The populace has been
conservative, approving only about 10% of the initiatives put before
them; in addition, they have often opted for a version of the
initiative rewritten by government.
In the United States, no mechanisms of direct democracy exists at the
federal level, but over half of the states and many localities provide
for citizen-sponsored ballot initiatives (also called "ballot
measures", "ballot questions" or "propositions"), and the vast
majority of states allow for referendums. Examples include the
extensive use of referendums in the US state of California, which is a
state that has more than 20 million voters.
In New England, Town meetings are often used, especially in rural
areas, to manage local government. This creates a hybrid form of
government, with a local direct democracy and a state government which
is representative. For example, most
Vermont towns hold annual town
meetings in March in which town officers are elected, budgets for the
town and schools are voted on, and citizens have the opportunity to
speak and be heard on political matters.
Main article: Constitutional monarchy
Queen Elizabeth II, a constitutional monarch
Many countries such as the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands,
Belgium, Scandinavian countries, Thailand,
powerful monarchs into constitutional monarchs with limited or, often
gradually, merely symbolic roles. For example, in the predecessor
states to the United Kingdom, constitutional monarchy began to emerge
and has continued uninterrupted since the
Glorious Revolution of 1688
and passage of the Bill of
In other countries, the monarchy was abolished along with the
aristocratic system (as in France, China, Russia, Germany, Austria,
Hungary, Italy, Greece and Egypt). An elected president, with or
without significant powers, became the head of state in these
Elite upper houses of legislatures, which often had lifetime or
hereditary tenure, were common in many nations. Over time, these
either had their powers limited (as with the British House of Lords)
or else became elective and remained powerful (as with the Australian
Main article: Republicanism
The term republic has many different meanings, but today often refers
to a representative democracy with an elected head of state, such as a
president, serving for a limited term, in contrast to states with a
hereditary monarch as a head of state, even if these states also are
representative democracies with an elected or appointed head of
government such as a prime minister.
The Founding Fathers of the
United States rarely praised and often
criticised democracy, which in their time tended to specifically mean
direct democracy, often without the protection of a constitution
enshrining basic rights;
James Madison argued, especially in The
Federalist No. 10, that what distinguished a direct democracy from a
republic was that the former became weaker as it got larger and
suffered more violently from the effects of faction, whereas a
republic could get stronger as it got larger and combats faction by
its very structure.
What was critical to American values,
John Adams insisted, was
that the government be "bound by fixed laws, which the people have a
voice in making, and a right to defend." As
Benjamin Franklin was
exiting after writing the U.S. constitution, a woman asked him "Well,
Doctor, what have we got—a republic or a monarchy?". He replied "A
republic—if you can keep it."
Main article: Liberal democracy
A liberal democracy is a representative democracy in which the ability
of the elected representatives to exercise decision-making power is
subject to the rule of law, and moderated by a constitution or laws
that emphasise the protection of the rights and freedoms of
individuals, and which places constraints on the leaders and on the
extent to which the will of the majority can be exercised against the
rights of minorities (see civil liberties).
In a liberal democracy, it is possible for some large-scale decisions
to emerge from the many individual decisions that citizens are free to
make. In other words, citizens can "vote with their feet" or "vote
with their dollars", resulting in significant informal
government-by-the-masses that exercises many "powers" associated with
formal government elsewhere.
Democracy in Marxism
Socialist thought has several different views on democracy. Social
democracy, democratic socialism, and the dictatorship of the
proletariat (usually exercised through Soviet democracy) are some
examples. Many democratic socialists and social democrats believe in a
form of participatory, industrial, economic and/or workplace democracy
combined with a representative democracy.
Within Marxist orthodoxy there is a hostility to what is commonly
called "liberal democracy", which they simply refer to as
parliamentary democracy because of its often centralised nature.
Because of their desire to eliminate the political elitism they see in
capitalism, Marxists, Leninists and Trotskyists believe in direct
democracy implemented through a system of communes (which are
sometimes called soviets). This system ultimately manifests itself as
council democracy and begins with workplace democracy. (See Democracy
Democracy cannot consist solely of elections that are nearly always
fictitious and managed by rich landowners and professional
— Che Guevara, Speech, Uruguay, 1961
Anarchists are split in this domain, depending on whether they believe
that a majority-rule is tyrannic or not. The only form of democracy
considered acceptable to many anarchists is direct democracy.
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon argued that the only acceptable form of direct
democracy is one in which it is recognised that majority decisions are
not binding on the minority, even when unanimous. However,
Murray Bookchin criticised individualist anarchists
for opposing democracy, and says "majority rule" is consistent
Some anarcho-communists oppose the majoritarian nature of direct
democracy, feeling that it can impede individual liberty and opt in
favour of a non-majoritarian form of consensus democracy, similar to
Proudhon's position on direct democracy. Henry David Thoreau, who
did not self-identify as an anarchist but argued for "a better
government" and is cited as an inspiration by some anarchists,
argued that people should not be in the position of ruling others or
being ruled when there is no consent.
Main article: Sortition
Sometimes called "democracy without elections", sortition chooses
decision makers via a random process. The intention is that those
chosen will be representative of the opinions and interests of the
people at large, and be more fair and impartial than an elected
official. The technique was in widespread use in Athenian Democracy
and Renaissance Florence and is still used in modern jury
Main article: Consociational democracy
A consociational democracy allows for simultaneous majority votes in
two or more ethno-religious constituencies, and policies are enacted
only if they gain majority support from both or all of them.
A consensus democracy, in contrast, would not be dichotomous. Instead,
decisions would be based on a multi-option approach, and policies
would be enacted if they gained sufficient support, either in a purely
verbal agreement, or via a consensus vote—a multi-option preference
vote. If the threshold of support were at a sufficiently high level,
minorities would be as it were protected automatically. Furthermore,
any voting would be ethno-colour blind.
Qualified majority voting
Qualified majority voting is designed by the
Treaty of Rome
Treaty of Rome to be the
principal method of reaching decisions in the European Council of
Ministers. This system allocates votes to member states in part
according to their population, but heavily weighted in favour of the
smaller states. This might be seen as a form of representative
democracy, but representatives to the Council might be appointed
rather than directly elected.
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Main article: Inclusive democracy
Inclusive democracy is a political theory and political project that
aims for direct democracy in all fields of social life: political
democracy in the form of face-to-face assemblies which are
confederated, economic democracy in a stateless, moneyless and
marketless economy, democracy in the social realm, i.e.
self-management in places of work and education, and ecological
democracy which aims to reintegrate society and nature. The
theoretical project of inclusive democracy emerged from the work of
Takis Fotopoulos in "Towards An Inclusive
Democracy" and was further developed in the journal
Nature and its successor The International Journal of Inclusive
The basic unit of decision making in an inclusive democracy is the
demotic assembly, i.e. the assembly of demos, the citizen body in a
given geographical area which may encompass a town and the surrounding
villages, or even neighbourhoods of large cities. An inclusive
democracy today can only take the form of a confederal democracy that
is based on a network of administrative councils whose members or
delegates are elected from popular face-to-face democratic assemblies
in the various demoi. Thus, their role is purely administrative and
practical, not one of policy-making like that of representatives in
The citizen body is advised by experts but it is the citizen body
which functions as the ultimate decision-taker . Authority can be
delegated to a segment of the citizen body to carry out specific
duties, for example to serve as members of popular courts, or of
regional and confederal councils. Such delegation is made, in
principle, by lot, on a rotation basis, and is always recallable by
the citizen body. Delegates to regional and confederal bodies should
have specific mandates.
Main article: Participatory politics
Parpolity or Participatory
Polity is a theoretical form of democracy
that is ruled by a Nested Council structure. The guiding philosophy is
that people should have decision making power in proportion to how
much they are affected by the decision. Local councils of 25–50
people are completely autonomous on issues that affect only them, and
these councils send delegates to higher level councils who are again
autonomous regarding issues that affect only the population affected
by that council.
A council court of randomly chosen citizens serves as a check on the
tyranny of the majority, and rules on which body gets to vote on which
issue. Delegates may vote differently from how their sending council
might wish, but are mandated to communicate the wishes of their
sending council. Delegates are recallable at any time. Referendums are
possible at any time via votes of most lower-level councils, however,
not everything is a referendum as this is most likely a waste of time.
A parpolity is meant to work in tandem with a participatory economy.
Main article: Cosmopolitan democracy
Cosmopolitan democracy, also known as Global democracy or World
Federalism, is a political system in which democracy is implemented on
a global scale, either directly or through representatives. An
important justification for this kind of system is that the decisions
made in national or regional democracies often affect people outside
the constituency who, by definition, cannot vote. By contrast, in a
cosmopolitan democracy, the people who are affected by decisions also
have a say in them.
According to its supporters, any attempt to solve global problems is
undemocratic without some form of cosmopolitan democracy. The general
principle of cosmopolitan democracy is to expand some or all of the
values and norms of democracy, including the rule of law; the
non-violent resolution of conflicts; and equality among citizens,
beyond the limits of the state. To be fully implemented, this would
require reforming existing international organisations, e.g. the
United Nations, as well as the creation of new institutions such as a
World Parliament, which ideally would enhance public control over, and
accountability in, international politics.
Democracy has been promoted, among others, by physicist
Albert Einstein, writer Kurt Vonnegut, columnist George Monbiot,
David Held and Daniele Archibugi. The creation of
International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court in 2003 was seen as a major step
forward by many supporters of this type of cosmopolitan democracy.
Main article: Creative democracy
Democracy is advocated by American philosopher John Dewey.
The main idea about Creative
Democracy is that democracy encourages
individual capacity building and the interaction among the society.
Dewey argues that democracy is a way of life in his work of "Creative
Democracy: The Task Before Us" and an experience built on faith
in human nature, faith in human beings, and faith in working with
others. Democracy, in Dewey's view, is a moral ideal requiring actual
effort and work by people; it is not an institutional concept that
exists outside of ourselves. "The task of democracy", Dewey concludes,
"is forever that of creation of a freer and more humane experience in
which all share and to which all contribute".
Main article: Guided democracy
Guided democracy is a form of democracy which incorporates regular
popular elections, but which often carefully "guides" the choices
offered to the electorate in a manner which may reduce the ability of
the electorate to truly determine the type of government exercised
over them. Such democracies typically have only one central authority
which is often not subject to meaningful public review by any other
governmental authority. Russian-style democracy has often been
referred to as a "Guided democracy." Russian politicians have
referred to their government as having only one center of power/
authority, as opposed to most other forms of democracy which usually
attempt to incorporate two or more naturally competing sources of
authority within the same government.
Aside from the public sphere, similar democratic principles and
mechanisms of voting and representation have been used to govern other
kinds of groups. Many non-governmental organisations decide policy and
leadership by voting. Most trade unions and cooperatives are governed
by democratic elections. Corporations are controlled by shareholders
on the principle of one share, one vote. An analogous system, that
fuses elements of democracy with sharia law, has been termed
A marble statue of Aristotle
Aristotle contrasted rule by the many (democracy/polity), with rule by
the few (oligarchy/aristocracy), and with rule by a single person
(tyranny or today autocracy/absolute monarchy). He also thought that
there was a good and a bad variant of each system (he considered
democracy to be the degenerate counterpart to polity).
Aristotle the underlying principle of democracy is freedom, since
only in a democracy the citizens can have a share in freedom. In
essence, he argues that this is what every democracy should make its
aim. There are two main aspects of freedom: being ruled and ruling in
turn, since everyone is equal according to number, not merit, and to
be able to live as one pleases.
But one factor of liberty is to govern and be governed in turn; for
the popular principle of justice is to have equality according to
number, not worth, ... And one is for a man to live as he likes;
for they say that this is the function of liberty, inasmuch as to live
not as one likes is the life of a man that is a slave.
Politics 1317b (Book 6, Part II)
Early Republican theory
A common view among early and renaissance Republican theorists was
that democracy could only survive in small political communities.
Heeding the lessons of the Roman Republic's shift to monarchism as it
grew larger, these Republican theorists held that the expansion of
territory and population inevitably led to tyranny.
therefore highly fragile and rare historically, as it could only
survive in small political units, which due to their size were
vulnerable to conquest by larger political units. Montesquieu
famously said, "if a republic is small, it is destroyed by an outside
force; if it is large, it is destroyed by an internal vice."
Rousseau asserted, "It is, therefore the natural property of small
states to be governed as a republic, of middling ones to be subject to
a monarch, and of large empires to be swayed by a despotic
Among modern political theorists, there are three contending
conceptions of the fundamental rationale for democracy: aggregative
democracy, deliberative democracy, and radical democracy.
The theory of aggregative democracy claims that the aim of the
democratic processes is to solicit citizens' preferences and aggregate
them together to determine what social policies society should adopt.
Therefore, proponents of this view hold that democratic participation
should primarily focus on voting, where the policy with the most votes
Different variants of aggregative democracy exist. Under minimalism,
democracy is a system of government in which citizens have given teams
of political leaders the right to rule in periodic elections.
According to this minimalist conception, citizens cannot and should
not "rule" because, for example, on most issues, most of the time,
they have no clear views or their views are not well-founded. Joseph
Schumpeter articulated this view most famously in his book Capitalism,
Socialism, and Democracy. Contemporary proponents of minimalism
include William H. Riker, Adam Przeworski, Richard Posner.
According to the theory of direct democracy, on the other hand,
citizens should vote directly, not through their representatives, on
legislative proposals. Proponents of direct democracy offer varied
reasons to support this view. Political activity can be valuable in
itself, it socialises and educates citizens, and popular participation
can check powerful elites. Most importantly, citizens do not really
rule themselves unless they directly decide laws and policies.
Governments will tend to produce laws and policies that are close to
the views of the median voter—with half to their left and the other
half to their right. This is not actually a desirable outcome as it
represents the action of self-interested and somewhat unaccountable
political elites competing for votes.
Anthony Downs suggests that
ideological political parties are necessary to act as a mediating
broker between individual and governments. Downs laid out this view in
his 1957 book An Economic Theory of Democracy.
Robert A. Dahl
Robert A. Dahl argues that the fundamental democratic principle is
that, when it comes to binding collective decisions, each person in a
political community is entitled to have his/her interests be given
equal consideration (not necessarily that all people are equally
satisfied by the collective decision). He uses the term polyarchy to
refer to societies in which there exists a certain set of institutions
and procedures which are perceived as leading to such democracy. First
and foremost among these institutions is the regular occurrence of
free and open elections which are used to select representatives who
then manage all or most of the public policy of the society. However,
these polyarchic procedures may not create a full democracy if, for
example, poverty prevents political participation. Similarly,
Ronald Dworkin argues that "democracy is a substantive, not a merely
Deliberative democracy is based on the notion that democracy is
government by deliberation. Unlike aggregative democracy, deliberative
democracy holds that, for a democratic decision to be legitimate, it
must be preceded by authentic deliberation, not merely the aggregation
of preferences that occurs in voting. Authentic deliberation is
deliberation among decision-makers that is free from distortions of
unequal political power, such as power a decision-maker obtained
through economic wealth or the support of interest
groups. If the decision-makers cannot reach consensus
after authentically deliberating on a proposal, then they vote on the
proposal using a form of majority rule. Many theorists is discussing
the conception of Debliberative Democracy, considering specially the
thought of Jürgen Habermas.
Radical democracy is based on the idea that there are hierarchical and
oppressive power relations that exist in society. Democracy's role is
to make visible and challenge those relations by allowing for
difference, dissent and antagonisms in decision making processes.
Main article: Criticism of democracy
Some economists have criticized the efficiency of democracy, citing
the premise of the irrational voter, or a voter who makes decisions
without all of the facts or necessary information in order to make a
truly informed decision. Another argument is that democracy slows down
processes because of the amount of input and participation needed in
order to go forward with a decision. A common example often quoted to
substantiate this point is the high economic development achieved by
China (a non-democratic country) as compared to
India (a democratic
country). According to economists, the lack of democratic
participation in countries like
China allows for unfettered economic
On the other hand,
Socrates was of the belief that democracy without
educated masses (educated in the more broader sense of being
knowledgeable and responsible) would only lead to populism being the
criteria to become an elected leader, and not competence. This would
ultimately lead to a demise of the nation. This was quoted by
book 10 of The Republic, in Socrates' conversation with
Socrates was of the opinion that the right to vote
must not be an indiscriminate right (for example by birth or
citizenship), but must be given only to people who thought
sufficiently of their choice.
Popular rule as a façade
The 20th-century Italian thinkers
Vilfredo Pareto and Gaetano Mosca
(independently) argued that democracy was illusory, and served only to
mask the reality of elite rule. Indeed, they argued that elite
oligarchy is the unbendable law of human nature, due largely to the
apathy and division of the masses (as opposed to the drive, initiative
and unity of the elites), and that democratic institutions would do no
more than shift the exercise of power from oppression to
Louis Brandeis once professed, "We may have
democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few,
but we can't have both."[clarification needed]
Republic presents a critical view of democracy through the
narration of Socrates: "Democracy, which is a charming form of
government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of
equality to equals and unequaled alike." In his work,
5 forms of government from best to worst. Assuming that the Republic
was intended to be a serious critique of the political thought in
Plato argues that only Kallipolis, an aristocracy led by the
unwilling philosopher-kings (the wisest men), is a just form of
James Madison critiqued direct democracy (which he referred to simply
as "democracy") in Federalist No. 10, arguing that representative
democracy—which he described using the term "republic"—is a
preferable form of government, saying: "... democracies have ever
been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found
incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and
have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent
in their deaths." Madison offered that republics were superior to
democracies because republics safeguarded against tyranny of the
majority, stating in Federalist No. 10: "the same advantage which a
republic has over a democracy, in controlling the effects of faction,
is enjoyed by a large over a small republic".
More recently, democracy is criticised for not offering enough
political stability. As governments are frequently elected on and off
there tends to be frequent changes in the policies of democratic
countries both domestically and internationally. Even if a political
party maintains power, vociferous, headline grabbing protests and
harsh criticism from the popular media are often enough to force
sudden, unexpected political change. Frequent policy changes with
regard to business and immigration are likely to deter investment and
so hinder economic growth. For this reason, many people have put
forward the idea that democracy is undesirable for a developing
country in which economic growth and the reduction of poverty are top
This opportunist alliance not only has the handicap of having to cater
to too many ideologically opposing factions, but it is usually short
lived since any perceived or actual imbalance in the treatment of
coalition partners, or changes to leadership in the coalition partners
themselves, can very easily result in the coalition partner
withdrawing its support from the government.
Biased media has been accused of causing political instability,
resulting in the obstruction of democracy, rather than its
In representative democracies, it may not benefit incumbents to
conduct fair elections. A study showed that incumbents who rig
elections stay in office 2.5 times as long as those who permit fair
elections. Democracies in countries with high per capita income
have been found to be less prone to violence, but in countries with
low incomes the tendency is the reverse.
Election misconduct is
more likely in countries with low per capita incomes, small
populations, rich in natural resources, and a lack of institutional
checks and balances. Sub-Saharan countries, as well as Afghanistan,
all tend to fall into that category.
Governments that have frequent elections tend to have significantly
more stable economic policies than those governments who have
infrequent elections. However, this trend does not apply to
governments where fraudulent elections are common.
Main article: Anti-democratic thought
Democracy in modern times has almost always faced opposition from the
previously existing government, and many times it has faced opposition
from social elites. The implementation of a democratic government
within a non-democratic state is typically brought about by democratic
Post-Enlightenment ideologies such as fascism, nazism, communism and
neo-fundamentalism oppose democracy on different grounds, generally
citing that the concept of democracy as a constant process is flawed
and detrimental to a preferable course of development.
Main article: Democratization
Several philosophers and researchers have outlined historical and
social factors seen as supporting the evolution of democracy. Cultural
Protestantism influenced the development of democracy,
rule of law, human rights and political liberty (the faithful elected
priests, religious freedom and tolerance has been practiced).
Other commentators have mentioned the influence of wealth (e.g. S. M.
Lipset, 1959). In a related theory,
Ronald Inglehart suggests that
improved living-standards can convince people that they can take their
basic survival for granted, leading to increased emphasis on
self-expression values, which is highly correlated to democracy.
Carroll Quigley concludes that the characteristics of weapons are the
main predictor of democracy:
Democracy tends to emerge only
when the best weapons available are easy for individuals to buy and
use. By the 1800s, guns were the best personal weapons available,
and in America, almost everyone could afford to buy a gun, and could
learn how to use it fairly easily. Governments couldn't do any better:
it became the age of mass armies of citizen soldiers with guns
Similarly, Periclean Greece was an age of the citizen soldier and
Recent theories stress the relevance of education and of human capital
– and within them of cognitive ability to increasing tolerance,
rationality, political literacy and participation. Two effects of
education and cognitive ability are distinguished: a cognitive effect
(competence to make rational choices, better information-processing)
and an ethical effect (support of democratic values, freedom, human
rights etc.), which itself depends on intelligence.
Evidence that is consistent with conventional theories of why
democracy emerges and is sustained has been hard to come by. Recent
statistical analyses have challenged modernisation theory by
demonstrating that there is no reliable evidence for the claim that
democracy is more likely to emerge when countries become wealthier,
more educated, or less unequal. Neither is there convincing
evidence that increased reliance on oil revenues prevents
democratisation, despite a vast theoretical literature on "the
Resource Curse" that asserts that oil revenues sever the link between
citizen taxation and government accountability, seen as the key to
representative democracy. The lack of evidence for these
conventional theories of democratisation have led researchers to
search for the "deep" determinants of contemporary political
institutions, be they geographical or demographic. More
inclusive institutions lead to democracy because as people gain more
power, they are able to demand more from the elites, who in turn have
to concede more things to keep their position. This virtuous circle,
may end up in democracy.
An example of this is the disease environment. Places with different
mortality rates had different populations and productivity levels
around the world. For example, in Africa, the
Tsetse fly which is
harmful to humans and livestock reduced the ability of the Africans to
plow the land. This made Africa less settled. As a consequence,
political power was less concentrated. This also affected the
colonial institutions that where set in place by the European
countries in Africa. If the colonial settlers could live or not
in a place made them develop different institutions which led to
different economic and social paths. This also affected the
distribution of power and the collective actions people could take. As
a result, some African countries ended up having democracies and
others autocracies. Another example of geographical determinants for
democracy is having access to coastal areas and rivers. This natural
endowment has a positive relation with economic development thanks to
the benefits of trade. Trade brought economic development, which
in turn, broaden the power. If the ruler wanted to increase his
revenues, he had to protect property rights to create incentives for
people to invest. As more people had more power, more concessions had
to be made by the ruler and in many places this process lead to
democracy. These determinants defined the structur of the society
moving the balance of political power.
In the 21st century, democracy has become such a popular method of
reaching decisions that its application beyond politics to other areas
such as entertainment, food and fashion, consumerism, urban planning,
education, art, literature, science and theology has been criticised
as "the reigning dogma of our time". The argument suggests that
applying a populist or market-driven approach to art and literature
(for example), means that innovative creative work goes unpublished or
unproduced. In education, the argument is that essential but more
difficult studies are not undertaken. Science, as a truth-based
discipline, is particularly corrupted by the idea that the correct
conclusion can be arrived at by popular vote. However, more recently,
theorists have also advanced the concept epistemic democracy to assert
that democracy actually does a good job tracking the truth.
Robert Michels asserts that although democracy can never be fully
realised, democracy may be developed automatically in the act of
striving for democracy: "The peasant in the fable, when on his
death-bed, tells his sons that a treasure is buried in the field.
After the old man's death the sons dig everywhere in order to discover
the treasure. They do not find it. But their indefatigable labor
improves the soil and secures for them a comparative well-being. The
treasure in the fable may well symbolise democracy."
Dr. Harald Wydra, in his book
Communism and The Emergence of Democracy
(2007), maintains that the development of democracy should not be
viewed as a purely procedural or as a static concept but rather as an
ongoing "process of meaning formation". Drawing on Claude
Lefort's idea of the empty place of power, that "power emanates from
the people [...] but is the power of nobody", he remarks that
democracy is reverence to a symbolic mythical authority as in reality,
there is no such thing as the people or demos. Democratic political
figures are not supreme rulers but rather temporary guardians of an
empty place. Any claim to substance such as the collective good, the
public interest or the will of the nation is subject to the
competitive struggle and times of for[clarification needed] gaining
the authority of office and government. The essence of the democratic
system is an empty place, void of real people which can only be
temporarily filled and never be appropriated. The seat of power is
there, but remains open to constant change. As such, what "democracy"
is or what is "democratic" progresses throughout history as a
continual and potentially never ending process of social
Consent of the governed
Democratic peace theory
Parliament in the Making
Shadow government (conspiracy)
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of Democracy. JHU Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8287-6
Diamond, Larry, Marc F. Plattner & Philip J. Costopoulos. (2005).
World Religions and Democracy. JHU Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8080-3
Diamond, Larry, Marc F. Plattner & Daniel Brumberg. (2003). Islam
Democracy in the Middle East. JHU Press.
Elster, Jon. (1998). Deliberative Democracy. Cambridge University
Press. ISBN 978-0-521-59696-1
Emerson, Peter (2007) "Designing an All-Inclusive Democracy."
Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-33163-6
Emerson, Peter (2012) "Defining Democracy." Springer.
Everdell, William R. (2003) The End of Kings: A History of Republics
and Republicans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Gabardi, Wayne. (2001). Contemporary Models of Democracy. Polity.
Gutmann, Amy, and Dennis Thompson. (1996).
Democracy and Disagreement.
Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-19766-4
Gutmann, Amy, and Dennis Thompson. (2002). Why Deliberative Democracy?
Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-12019-5
Haldane, Robert Burdone (1918). The future of democracy. London:
Headley Bros. Publishers Ltd.
Halperin, M. H., Siegle, J. T. & Weinstein, M. M. (2005). The
Democracy Advantage: How Democracies Promote Prosperity and Peace.
Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-95052-7
Hansen, Mogens Herman. (1991). The
Athenian Democracy in the Age of
Demosthenes. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-18017-3
Held, David. (2006). Models of Democracy. Stanford University Press.
Inglehart, Ronald. (1997). Modernisation and Postmodernisation.
Cultural, Economic, and Political Change in 43 Societies. Princeton
University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-01180-6
Isakhan, Ben and Stockwell, Stephen (co-editors). (2011) The Secret
History of Democracy. Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 978-0-230-24421-4
Jarvie, I. C.; Milford, K. (2006). Karl Popper: Life and time, and
values in a world of facts Volume 1 of Karl Popper: A Centenary
Assessment, Karl Milford. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
Khan, L. Ali. (2003). A Theory of Universal Democracy: Beyond the End
of History. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 978-90-411-2003-8
Köchler, Hans. (1987). The Crisis of Representative Democracy. Peter
Lang. ISBN 978-3-8204-8843-2
Lijphart, Arend. (1999). Patterns of Democracy:
Government Forms and
Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. Yale University Press.
Lipset, Seymour Martin. (1959). "Some Social Requisites of Democracy:
Economic Development and Political Legitimacy". American Political
Science Review. 53 (1): 69–105. doi:10.2307/1951731.
Macpherson, C. B. (1977). The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy.
Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-289106-8
Morgan, Edmund. (1989). Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular
Sovereignty in England and America. Norton.
Mosley, Ivo (2003). Democracy, Fascism, and the New World Order.
Imprint Academic. ISBN 0 907845 649.
Mosley, Ivo (2013). In The Name Of The People. Imprint Academic.
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democracies, ancient and modern. Princeton University Press.
Plattner, Marc F. & Aleksander Smolar. (2000). Globalisation,
Power, and Democracy. JHU Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-6568-8
Plattner, Marc F. & João Carlos Espada. (2000). The Democratic
Invention. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-6419-3
Putnam, Robert. (2001). Making
Democracy Work. Princeton University
Press. ISBN 978-5-551-09103-5
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Democracy in Ancient Greece. University of
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Democracy as a Universal Value". Journal of
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Tannsjo, Torbjorn. (2008). Global Democracy: The Case for a World
Government. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-0-7486-3499-6.
Argues that not only is world government necessary if we want to deal
successfully with global problems it is also, pace Kant and Rawls,
desirable in its own right.
Thompson, Dennis (1970). The Democratic Citizen: Social
Democratic Theory in the 20th Century. Cambridge University Press.
Vinje, Victor Condorcet (2014). The Versatile Farmers of the North;
The Struggle of Norwegian Yeomen for Economic Reforms and Political
Power, 1750–1814. Nisus Publications.
Volk, Kyle G. (2014). Moral Minorities and the Making of American
Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press.
Weingast, Barry. (1997). "The Political Foundations of the Rule of Law
and Democracy". American Political
Science Review. 91 (2): 245–263.
doi:10.2307/2952354. JSTOR 2952354.
Weatherford, Jack. (1990). Indian Givers: How the Indians Transformed
the World. New York: Fawcett Columbine. ISBN 978-0-449-90496-1
Whitehead, Laurence. (2002). Emerging Market Democracies: East Asia
and Latin America. JHU Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-7219-8
Willard, Charles Arthur. (1996).
Liberalism and the Problem of
Knowledge: A New Rhetoric for Modern Democracy. University of Chicago
Press. ISBN 978-0-226-89845-2
Wood, E. M. (1995).
Democracy Against Capitalism: Renewing historical
materialism. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-47682-9
Wood, Gordon S. (1991). The Radicalism of the American Revolution.
Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-679-73688-2 examines democratic
dimensions of republicanism
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Democracy.
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Look up democracy in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Library resources about
Resources in your library
Democracy at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Democracy
Intelligence Unit's index of democracy
Alexis de Tocqueville,
Democracy in America
Democracy in America Full hypertext with
critical essays on America in 1831–32 from American Studies at the
University of Virginia
Data visualizations of data on democratisation and list of data
sources on political regimes on 'Our World in Data', by Max Roser.
 MaxRange Classifying political regime type and democracy level to
all states and months 1789–2015
BBC Radio 4 discussion with Melissa Lane, David Wootton
and Tim Winter (In Our Time, Oct. 18, 2001)
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