Representative Democracy

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The freedoms of speech, publication, and assembly, the right to vote, or the right to act freely define democracy. But, these are only a few features of the form of government in general. There are more types and forms of it. So, what is representative democracy?

The primary idea is that people elect their representatives. These delegates then act and decide on their behalf. Thus, the origin of the name. That is in contrast to direct democracy. There, people make decisions directly through a vote on the given topic.

There are many vital features. First, the constitution sets the numbers of representatives and their rights. They must not exceed these rights. If this happened, democracy would be at threat. Hence, a judicial review power acts to prevent this. Further, the electoral system describes how the elections work.

Representative democracy
It is the most common system

The state must maintain the separation of power. Hence, the concept of checks and balances must work. For the system to work, the citizens of the state have to participate. It would not function without them. Besides, representative democracy accepts the ideas of petitions and referendums to some extent.


The Roman Republic (509 BC to 27 BC) was one of the first of this type. After its fall, the concept fell silent. Democracy re-emerged with the Age of Enlightenment. Then, many feared the tyranny of the majority. Among these were Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Alexis de Tocqueville. Hence, a new approach, similar to the Roman, emerged.

The roots of the representative democracy lay in England. After the 1688 Glorious revolution, the parliament adopted several practices typical for this practice. Further, the Founding Fathers of the USA extended the concept with their proposed indirect system of the electoral college. However, they used the term “republic” rather than “democracy.”

Those opposing this system believe that it inclines to oligarchy. Yet, today, representative democracy is the most common form of democracy. They are both republics and monarchies. Lastly, the established Western view is also called liberal democracy.