Topics: Democracy, Direct democracy, Representative democracy Pages: 5 (1617 words) Published: May 8, 2013
Today, most of the countries in the world are democracies. Knowing what is a democracy is really important, especially for those who live in a democracy. It allows you to understand what is the rule that the government plays in the society and know what are your rights and duties under a democratic administration. This essay will seek to define Democracy, the meaning of the word, the system and the history, and describe two of the most famous democracies: Direct democracy and Representative democracy.

Democracy is a form of government where people have power to participate in the government. The word “democracy” comes from Greek and means dēmos 'the people' + -kratia 'power, rule'. According to Oxford dictionary, democracy is a “a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives: a system of parliamentary democracy.” Democracy principles are: All citizens are equal—they have equal rights and duties. The rules are applied equally and fairly to all and not just a few. The majority rules but the rights of the minority and absent members are protected. Citizens have the right to know what is going on within the government. Politicians and leaders are elected through the process of election. In this process, any individual or group can be favored, as Lincoln said, “Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” (Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865). Aristotle also gave his view when he said that “in a democracy, the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme” (Aristotle, 384 - 322 BC). What he said define the most basic principle of democracy, which is equality before the law, it means that a rich and a poor will have the same rights and duties, any of them will be favored.

The first democracy recorded was in the Greek city-state of Athens around 550 BC and was called Athenian Democracy. The Athenian democracy was a direct democracy, which means that the citizens participate directly in decisions of government, through voting. In the ancient Athens, only 20% of the population could vote because only adult male who had completed the military training was considered citizen, what means that the majority of the population, women and children, could not vote. The others city-states of Greece followed the example of Athens, but the was not as powerful as the Athenian Democracy.

As happened in the ancient Athens, others places started to have systems involving elections and assemblies during the middle ages, places such as Gopala in Bengal region of Indian Subcontinent, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Althing in Iceland, the Løgting in the Faeroe Islands, certain medieval Italian city-states such as Venice, in Ireland, the Veche in Novgorod and Pskov Republics of medieval Russia, Scandinavian Things, The States in Tirol and Switzerland and the autonomous merchant city of Sakai in the 16th century in Japan. What happen in all those places can be called an Oligarchy because the participation of the elections and assemblies was restricted for few citizens, for example in medieval Europe only land Lords had the right to vote unlike our existing democracy.

Around the year 1789, the French population, dissatisfied with the privileges of the nobility and high clergy and influenced by Illuminist philosophers, had begun the France revolution that would end the monarchy and establish a republican regime, based on the Illuminist ideal of equality of all before the law. After this event, democratic rules spread around the world, in each place is different, but any of them can distort the basic principles of democracy.

There are many kinds of democracy. These are: Parliamentary democracy, Participatory democracy, Liberal democracy, etc. But, instead of all,...

Bibliography: “Direct and Representative democracy”, YouTube video, Josh Stumpenhorst, retrieved November 16, 2011,
Lecture at Hilla University for Humanistic Studies, retrieved January 21, 2004, “What’s a democracy?”,
McConnell, Robert, “Basic Principles Of Democratic Government”
Thomas More, 2000, “Utopia”, kindles edition, Library of Alexandria, Alexandria
Unknown author, retieved in February 10, 2006, “why doesn’t Representative Democracy work?”
Unknown author, retrieved 2013, “Democracy”,
WikiAnswers, “Why democracy is good”
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