Direct Democracy: Definition, Examples, Advantages and Disadvantages | (2023)

It is very likely that you live in some form of democracy. Almost all Europeans do this, and everyone who lives in the European Union lives in a democracy: a country's institutions must guarantee democracy and the rule of law, among other things, in order to be able to join the EU.

The form of democracy in which EU citizens live isRepresentativeDemocracy, where we elect politicians, who in turn vote for what should become law. But there is another, older form of democracy that some believe to be more genuine and pure. That's called direct democracy.

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(Video) Direct Democracy - Everything you need to know

(Video) Direct Democracy

What does direct democracy mean?

Direct democracy means people vote policies and laws for themselves, rather than electing politicians to do so on their behalf. That is why it is sometimes referred to as "pure democracy". Direct democracy can take various forms, from a system in which all executive and legislative decisions are taken by direct vote of the people, or in which the people only vote on specific policies or legislative acts.

The latter system was the most widespread form of direct democracy throughout modern history and is considered semi-direct democracy. It is a hybrid form of government that combines the principles of direct democracy and representative democracy. The people elect representatives to manage day-to-day business but retain the power to vote directly on important issues through mandatory referendum, popular initiative, recall and public consultation.

How is direct democracy different from indirect democracy?

As mentioned above, direct democracy is when the people directly vote on laws or other political initiatives. Indirect democracy is when the people elect representatives who cast the same votes on their behalf.

What forms does direct democracy take?

We have already mentioned semi-direct democracy, which can be viewed as a form of direct democracy or as a separate system. Looking specifically at direct democracy, the two main forms are participatory democracy and deliberative democracy.

Participatory democracy is a model of democracy in which citizens have the power to make political decisions directly through their vote. And the focus of participatory democracy is on this action: the direct involvement of citizens through voting to determine the outcome of proposed legislation or policy.

A similar but different form of direct democracy is deliberative democracy. In deliberative democracy, the emphasis is placed on debate and deliberation as a key element of decision-making. The laws have legitimacy and power not only because the majority of people support them, but because they have been thoroughly discussed and debated, all viewpoints have been considered, and all the pros and cons have been weighed.

A good way to think about the difference between participatory democracy and deliberative democracy is through the process. In the first, people go to the polls and vote. In a consultative process, people gathered in a kind of assembly, debated and discussed the issues to be voted on, and then made a consensus decision.

(Video) Tools of Direct Democracy | Referendum | Initiative | Recall | Plebiscite

examples of direct democracy

The origin of modern democracy, at least according to our current understanding, is the direct democratic system of Athens around 600 BC. In this Athenian democracy, citizens did not elect representatives to vote laws on their behalf, but voted on proposals and initiatives themselves.

Today, however, there are few, if any, truly direct-democratic states. Switzerland is proud of its system of direct democracy: the government itselfhas a websitepromote, but in reality the Swiss system at the federal level is a semi-direct democracy. Politicians are elected to run the nation's day-to-day government and make many decisions on behalf of the people. Despite this, citizens retain a high degree of democratic power. They can propose constitutional amendments or hold a referendum on any draft law of the federal government, the cantonal parliament or other legislative bodies.

In the United States, many states and localities practice direct democracy. In New England, for example, borough councils are assemblies in which members of local cities meet in direct, consultative democratic processes to enact local laws and regulations. And many countries, like Britain and a dozen or so EU nations, still have national referendums where citizens can vote directly on a proposed law, such as allowing abortion or leaving the EU. European.

Direct democracy: what are the pros and cons?

Direct democracy or "pure democracy" is often seen as the most authentic form of democracy. People choose the laws they live by, eliminating "middlemen" who vote on their behalf. In this way it can be seen as inherently more virtuous than representative democracy. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have disadvantages. So what are the main pros and cons?


-Transparency:Direct democracy is certainly the most transparent form of democracy. No "backroom deals" are made to decide the outcome or scope of legislation, as discussions and debates on important issues are public. And it is the people who decide whether a proposal becomes law and therefore take full responsibility for the outcome.

-Responsibility:Speaking of accountability, direct democracy ensures that there is no question who is responsible for the successes or failures of a country's laws or policies. Furthermore, the government cannot claim to ignore the will of the people, and party lobbying and other interference in the legislative process is minimal or non-existent.

(Video) Contrasting Direct and Representative Democracy - A-Level Politics Revision Video - Study Rocket

-Cooperation:Direct democracy encourages citizens to communicate and collaborate with one another, not only to consider current legislation, but also to devise laws that best serve the greatest number of people and are therefore most likely to win public support. And when people know with certainty that their voice is being considered in the process, they are much more likely to participate and cooperate with their fellow citizens.


-Indecision:In short, there are more people today than in the days of direct-democracy systems. Much much more. Think of the United States, which has a population of around 350 million. If everyone had to vote on every policy initiative or bill, nothing would happen. It simply would not be an efficient system and could therefore undermine government effectiveness.

-Mission:We are busy people. We have jobs to do, families to support, and sports teams to develop unhealthy obsessions with. If we were asked to participate in every decision, we would eventually lose interest. Or just not being able to handle such a huge demand.

- Voltage:Important decisions often create tension between people with opposing views. The more important the decision, the more tension. The more decisions, the more excitement. Attempting to implement direct democracy today could lead to even more bitter societies, where people are angrier and perhaps more violent.

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In many ways, direct democracy deserves its title as the purest form of democracy. But does that mean it's for the best? There are many reasons why we should hesitate to want to live in true direct democracy, even if it ensures that our individual opinions count and the bottom line counts. Certainly representative democracy arose because it does some things better than direct democracy. But whether we can keep our representative democracies running as intended is another question.

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2. Understanding Democracy - Definition, Forms, Characteristics, Advantages, and Disadvantages
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3. Intro and Direct Democracy
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