Representative and Direct Democracy

  • Created by: Roze97
  • Created on: 27-05-15 12:27

Representative and Direct Democracy


  • People are sought after to have their opinions expressed.
  • Legislature that represents their views.
  • Initiatives, petitions, public consultations etc happen all the time within representative democracies in order for the gov. to represent the people e.g. following 'let's talk Newcastle' the council decided the budget not the people they simply kept in mind what was said during the consultations.
  • Pressure groups etc who use direct democracy to put forward their views are an integral part of representative democracy - e.g. many of the Conservative's economic policies are guided by the BBA but they work very much as a representative democracy.


  • People make decisions (e.g. through a referendum) instead of through elected or appointed bodies.
  • Government held accountable.
  • Direct democracy is majoritarian - working on the will of the majority - risk of tyranny of the majority e.g. California 2008 intitiative to ban civil partnerships - discriminatory.  Representative democracy mediates between different groups representing them all thusly avoiding this.
  • Parliament is sovereign whereas in direct it is subservient to the people if it likes it or not - it's power is greatly weakened by direct democracy e.g. Bill of Rights taken out of Queen's Speech - delayed possibly for up to a year - due to oppisition in part from Liberty campaign and petitions e.g.'s petition against the Bill 230,000 people signed.
  • More likely to result in rational decision - direct often works with emotions e.g. AV referendum negative vote after Lib Dems went back on their promise on tuition fees.
  • Handles complex and technical political decisions - this isn't practical for direct democracy e.g. AV low turnout and negative vote partly due to complexity; Scottish Referendum lead up lasted months because people needed to be educated on the political, economic, and social implications.

Overall comparison

Although there are similarities between the two different systems of democracy it is clear they are very different when analysed.  Direct democracy seems to be the purest form of democracy however it can lead to bias and sometimes give the public too much power to make mistakes. Representative democracy by contrast can result in people being wrongly represented thus in conclusion I believe that direct democracy or features of it are superior to representative.


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