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Democracy has never existed. Greeks did not include women, Romans did not include women or slaves or servants etc. Everything since has been adulterated or even subverted by representatives. Most of what is discussed here is some lesser form of democracy
Democracy (literally "rule by the people", from the Greek demos, "people", and kratos, "rule") is a form of government. While the term democracy is typically used in the context of a political state, the principles are also applicable to other groups and organizations.
- 1 Definition of democracy
- 2 Forms of democracy
- 3 History
- 4 Theory
- 5 Arguments for and against
- 6 Beyond the public level
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Definition of democracy
According to the New World Dictionary, democracy means "majority rule". However, there are other definitions. Encyclopedia Britannica states "Form of government in which supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodic free elections." The Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy states that "the term 'democracy,' as I will use it in this article, refers very generally to a method of group decision making characterized by a kind of equality among the participants at an essential stage of the collective decision making."
Forms of democracy
The implementation of democracy has brought a great complexity and diversity from a large variety of concepts and ideas used at different periods of history and in different situations. Most forms listed here have many elements in common with each other, but are categorized by the most prominent characteristics. While most democratic ideas have been implemented on small scales, some of them have yet to be implemented within recognized nation states.
Representative democracy involves the selection of government officials by the people. Representatives may be elected by a particular district (or constituency), or represent the electorate as a whole as in many proportional systems, with some using a combination of the two. Some representative democracies also incorporate elements of direct democracy, such as referenda. A characteristic of representative democracy is that while the representatives are elected by the people, to act in their interest, they retain the freedom to exercise their own judgment as how best to do so. While considerations such as party alignment, perception of voter wishes or the public interest, re-election prospects and other factors can be of influence, there are generally few binding restrictions.
Liberal democracy is a representative democracy along with the protection of minorities, the rule of law, a separation of powers, and protection of liberties (thus the name liberal) of speech, assembly, religion, and property. Conversely, an illiberal democracy is one where the protections that form a liberal democracy are either nonexistent, or not enforced. The experience in some post-Soviet states drew attention to the phenomenon, although it is not of recent origin. Napoleon III for example used plebiscites to ratify his imperial decisions.
Direct democracy is largely referred to as a political system where the citizens vote on all major policy decisions. It is called direct because, in the classical forms, there are no intermediaries or representatives. All direct democracies to date have been weak forms, relatively small communities, usually city-states. However, some see the extensive use of referenda, as in California, as akin to direct democracy in a very large polity with more than 20 million potential voters.
Today, a limited direct democracy exists in some Swiss cantons. Other current examples include many small civic organizations (like college faculties) and town meetings in New England (usually in towns under 10,000 population).
Direct democracy obviously becomes difficult when the electorate is large. Modern direct democracy tries to accommodate this and sees a role for strictly controlled representatives. It is characterized by three pillars; referendums (initiated by governments or legislatures or by citizens responding to legislation), initiatives (initiated by citizens) and recall elections (on holders of public office).
Some anarchists oppose democracy while others favor it. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon argued that the only acceptable form of direct democracy is one in which it is recognized that majority decisions are not binding on the minority. However, anarcho-communist Murray Bookchin criticizes individualist anarchists for opposing democracy, and says "majority rule" is consistent with anarchism.
There are also some anarchists who expect society to operate by consensus. Some anarcho-communists oppose the majoritarian nature of democracy, feeling that it can impede individual liberty and opt in favor of consensus.
[[Image:Claims Of Demoracy.png|right|350px|thumb|Since World War II, democracy has gained widespread acceptance. This map displays the official "claims" made by world governments with regard to democracy, as of June 2006. It shows the de jure status of democracy in the world.
[[Image:Freedom House world map 2007.png|thumb|350px|This map reflects the findings of Freedom House's survey Freedom in the World 2007, which reports the state of world freedom in 2006. It is one of the most widely used measures of democracy by researchers. 
Freedom House considers these to be liberal democracies. Free.
]] Not Free