Democracy is not a sharply defined form of government that would need to be implemented in just one and no other way. Both in theory and in practice there are as many systems of democracy than democratic countries. Nevertheless there are some general features as well as some groups of democratic systems that may be distinguished from each other. Contrary to other authors, I will not try to present pure and ideal theories but rather start from the other side: how can the different systems of democracy be distinguished in everyday political life.
The Common Features of Democracy
Before we look at the differences it might be useful to recall the basic principles common to all forms of democracy, however. Separation of Powers:
•Legislative Power: parliament
normally in two chambers
•Executive Power: government and administration
•Judicative Power: courts of justice
Laws debated and passed by the parliament
Decrees by the government
based on laws and regulating the details how to the laws shall be applied in practice Elections
Though there are massive differences on how frequent referendums are and on which level they apply (constitution or single laws), the concept as such is known in any practical form of democracy.
Three Basic Types of Democracy
Any form of democracy tries in its own way to ascertain the will of the people and to bring public affairs into line with it. Theoretically this can be achieved by direct participation of all citizens (Direct Democracy) or by a body of elected representatives (Representative Democracy). Within the group of Representative Democracies the focus may be on a strong president (Presidental Democracy) or on a strong parliament (Parliamentary Democracy). As already mentioned, the question is not whether there exist some forms of direct participation or of representation but rather on how much importance they are given in...