Understanding Politics: Different types of Democracy


The origin of the word is Greek, meaning “rule by the people”.  Aristotle ranked Democracy as the third-best form of government, after aristocracy and monarchy.

Democracy is sometimes referred to as “rule of the majority”, Etymological roots of democracy (Greek demos and Kratos) imply that the people are in power and thus that all democracies are participatory.

‘What is a majority,’ Tocqueville writes, ‘if not an individual with opinions,
and usually with interests, contrary to another individual, called the minority
?’ In the most fully realized form of democracy (America for him), this
majority is possessed of unbridled power, which occasions the worry that ‘if
you admit that a man vested with omnipotence can abuse it against his
adversaries, why not admit the same concerning a majority?’

Democracy developed around the fifth century BC in the Greek city-state (known as a polis) of Athens, comprising the city of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, and is the first known democracy in the world.  Citizens participate in a direct democracy whereby they themselves made the decisions by which they lived, but they also actively served in the institutions that governed them, and so they directly controlled all parts of the political process. Only male citizens who were 18 years or over could speak (at least in theory) and vote in the assembly, whilst the positions such as magistrates and jurors were limited to those over 30 years of age. Therefore, women, slaves, and resident foreigners were excluded from the political process. The political process is summarised as the process of the formulation and administration of public policy usually by an interaction between social groups and political institutions or between political leadership and public opinion.

Types of democracies:

Direct Democracy is a form of democracy in which people decide on policy initiatives directly.  This differs from the majority of most currently established democracies, which are representative democracies.  Each person is treated as an equal, and each person is given a chance to directly influence the policymaking process.

Direct democracy is the opposite of the more common “representative democracy,” under which the people elect representatives who are empowered to create laws and policies for them.  Switzerland practices a modified form of direct democracy under which any law enacted by the nation’s elected legislative branch can be vetoed by a vote of the general public.

Representative democracy is a type of democracy founded on the principle of elected officials representing a group of people, as opposed to direct democracy.

representative democracy is a system where citizens of a country vote for government representatives to handle legislation and ruling the country on their behalf. It is the opposite of direct democracy, where the public gets to vote on laws to be passed and other issues; and autocracy, where a dictator has absolute power and the people have no say in how a country is governed.

Parliamentary democracy: Is a democratic form of government in which the party (or a coalition of parties) with the greatest representation in the parliament (legislature) forms the government, its leader becoming prime minister or chancellor. Executive functions are exercised by members of the parliament appointed by the prime minister to the cabinet.

The parties in the minority serve in opposition to the majority and have the duty to challenge it regularly. The prime minister may be removed from power whenever he loses the confidence of a majority of the ruling party or of the parliament. Parliamentary democracy originated in Britain.

Deliberative democracy: In deliberation, citizens exchange arguments and consider different claims that are designed to secure the public good. Through this conversation, citizens can come to an agreement about what procedure, action, or policy will best produce the public good. Deliberation is a necessary precondition for the legitimacy of democratic political decisions. Rather than thinking of political decisions as the aggregate of citizens’ preferences, deliberative democracy claims that citizens should arrive at political decisions through reason and the collection of competing arguments and viewpoints.

Social democracy is the idea that the state needs to provide security and equality for its people and should actively reorder society in a way that is conducive to such developments, but that such changes should be brought about gradually, legitimated by a democratically-elected majority.

Liberal democracy is a liberal political ideology and a form of government in which representative democracy operates under the principles of classical liberalism. Also called western democracy, it is characterized by fair, free and competitive elections between multiple distinct political parties, a separation of powers into different branches of government, the rule of law in everyday life as part of an open society and the equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and political freedoms for all people.

Categories: Politics

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: