Democracy– a word, greatly dealing with the voice for people. Yes! It is a form of government in which a nation’s people have the authority to choose their governing constitution. The term “democracy” first appeared in ancient Greek political and philosophical thought in the city-state of Athens during classical antiquity. It comprises demos, “commonpeople” and Kratos i.e. “strength“. It was first practiced in Greece; led by Cleisthenes, Athenians established what is generally held as the first democracy in 508–507 BC.
Direct democracy and Representative democracy is undertaking the ruling world. Let’s get a few insights on both the terms.
Direct democracy, known as pure democracy, pledges direct rights to the nation’s people for deciding the ruling government’s laws and policy initiatives, instead of the representatives who are elected by the government. People individually cast their votes. Even minorities too can choose without any discrimination thereby assuring that each person in the country directly influences the policymaking process.
While tracing the ancient times, Athens Greece, had the existence of direct democracy but with discrimination. They excluded women, slaves, and foreigners from participating in the Athenian democratic system. It is required for all citizens to take a vote on major issues.
“Athenian demcracy” consisted of three parts:
- the general assembly, composed of citizens;
- the boulê, which was composed of 500 citizens in charge of the functioning of the city; and
- the law courts, which is in charge of all the crimes.
Under their system, citizens were actively and constantly involved in the running of political life. Additionally, the verdict of every single court case was even decided by a vote of the assembly.
Direct democracy is a special feature of Switzerland’s political system that has a distinct scenario. It has a semi-direct democratic federal republic in which it can refuse if put to a public vote. Moreover, citizens can change any policies through a direct vote on an amendment.
As with the system of government, there are many pros and cons with direct democracy which must be considered while choosing. A few of them are given below-
Pros of Direct Democracy
1- Every vote count- In a direct democracy every vote counts! Even though decisions are based on a majority vote, yet people have the freedom to choose their representatives. This makes people get involved in political activities and perceptions about the issues prevailing.
2- Transparency- There is full government transparency in a direct democracy. That is, the government should provide complete and accurate data of everything that takes place to ensure the proper cooperation between the nation’s people and their government.
3- Happy society- A direct democracy brings up a happy society because the government is made by citizen’s choice. They know that the elected officials will bring benefits that every person needs.
4- Immediate recall- The government officials can be replaced immediately if their actions are not fulfilled or considered as illegal. The officials must be honest while dealing with the policies because the power is with the people rather than officials.
Cons of Direct Democracy
1- Difficult in making decisions- In a direct democracy, decision making becomes difficult because while putting any decision into action, the officials should make sure that their policies are for the betterment of society instead of troubling people.
2- Irregularity in regime- There is an irregularity in governing because, if the citizens feel any discomfort or lawlessness in a ruling, they change the representatives. So, there is no security and continuity in electing, and quick changes are made in direct democracy.
3- Dawdling in the progress of a country- Direct democracy sometimes makes it slow down in the development of a country. Making decisions is not easy and quick. If the government is held by a single person, it would be easy to make it quick and expendable. This makes delay in bringing out valuable reformation.
4- Does not work in a large country- Direct democracy promotes public involvement. So, there is a large number of suggestions and ideas to bring out. Therefore, it is difficult to make decisions selecting from each and every person.
Understanding democracy and it’s policies should be implemented, as the political community tends to change. The second type of democracy is Representative Democracy known as Indirect Democracy. Being the opposite of direct democracy here, people elect their dignitary on behalf of the government. People themselves vote on every law and policy at each level of ruling government. It is applicable mainly in larger countries.
“Representative democracy” stands out in sharp contrast to forms of government such as totalitarianism, authoritarianism, and fascism; which allow the people- little to no elected representation. The Roman Republic is the world’s first known representative government to rule.
Representative democracies are much more prevalent and varied than direct democracy, still not forbidden of pros and cons. Let’s put a light on some:
Pros of Representative Democracy
1- Well organized- Representative democracy is well organized and efficient. The authoritative body controls all laws and drafts all-important policies and laws. So, there will be not any misinterpretations of matters.
2- Sophisticated civilian depiction- Through this, the civilian can voice out their wishes and opinions. Therefore, if they find any hardships, they can make their representatives act on it on behalf of them.
3- Exhilarates voters- When people come to know they are a part of selection; they keep in touch with the issues happening around them resulting in an increase in the number of voters. Thus, representative democracy encourages people.
4- Symmetrical declaration- Representative democracy comes up with well-balanced decisions since the authority is capable of bringing out compatible results.
Cons of Representative Democracy
1-Majority wins- Unlike direct democracy, representative democracy focuses primarily on the majority and is favored maximally while minorities’ problems are left untouched here.
2- Not always serves sovereignty- Sometimes representatives may not be able to serve their jurisdiction because of their low income. Also, there are circumstances when the majority doesn’t stand with the elected opinions.
3- Convincing communication proficiency- A good representative results in a good communication relationship with the citizens. Occasionally, the ruling governor travels on the national level to bring new changes, resulting in a gap of contact with the constituents.
4- Mislaid trust- While choosing, people should put all their trust in their representatives. They cannot assure you about what happens next. Sometimes the authority might not fulfill the services they promised to do. So, there comes a trust issue between people and the authority in a representative democracy.
There are no perfect democracies. Each has its own strong and weak points. It’s the people and their authorities who make it better and sound. Democracy should always result in ‘by the people, and for the people‘. It only succeeds when such complementarity does not exist, the democratic principles of tolerance and negotiation allow for the possibility of reform. Citizens’ voices always matter!