Representative democracy


The word democracy finds its bases in ancient Greece and is a system that allows society to organize a group of people , where power is not found in a single person, but on the contrary, it is distributed among the citizens, is a system or set of rules that are responsible for determining the behavior to achieve an orderly coexistence both politically and socially . There are several types of democracies, in this case, we will talk about representative democracy, where the people have the ability to govern through representatives who are elected by vote .


What is representative democracy?

It is a form of government where the people have political power so indirectly , as is exercised by representatives elected democratically by elections free . That is why it is known as indirect democracy .

  • What is representative democracy?
  • History
  • features
  • Objectives of representative democracy
  • Limits and difficulties
  • Advantage
  • Disadvantages
  • Forms of participation in representative democracy
  • How it differs from direct democracy
  • Importance
  • Examples of countries with representative democracy

What is representative democracy?

A representative democracy is a system of government whereby eligible members have the power to elect representatives from among themselves to enact laws and supervise and protect their interests in government . It is completely opposite to the type of democracy that we know by the name of direct democracy . Most political scholars view representative democracy as the most efficient system of democracy , particularly in countries with large populations .


For it to work, several conditions must be met. There must be opportunity for genuine competition in leadership selection . Second, there has to be free communication , between the people and the press. Third, voters have to believe that there is a meaningful choice between the candidates and that the differences in policies are honest. These aspects contribute greatly to determining the effectiveness of a representative democracy .


Its origin dates back to ancient Rome , when the Romans practiced the oldest form of democracy, representative democracy. This ancient form of representative democracy became the basis of modern democracy which is practiced in most countries of the world. In medieval Europe , absolute monarchies ruled and representative democracy was practiced only at the lower levels of government where individuals were selected to represent their interests before the monarch and to advise him .

Representative democracy was also practiced in the medieval era . Simon de Montfort founded the oldest parliamentary democracy in the world after leading a successful revolt against the King of England . The representative democratic system of government was later embraced in other countries promoted by the French Revolution and with the Declaration of the Rights of Man of the Citizen .


The main characteristics that we can observe in terms of representative democracy are the following:

  • Regular elections are held with controls that guarantee the transparency of the results.
  • There are political parties made up of people who represent the interest of a segment of the population.
  • There is a competition for the votes of the political parties during the elections in an authentic and honest way .
  • Universal suffrage is used and there is equity of the vote.
  • There is a Constitution that is responsible for regulating the power of political representatives.
  • There is an Executive Branch and a Legislative Branch , which work separately.
  • There is an independent Judicial Power , such as the Supreme Court , which is responsible for monitoring so that the decisions of political representatives do not go against the Constitution.
  • Making decisions depends only on the opinion of a select few and not on the millions of people who live in a country.

Objectives of representative democracy

The main objective of representative democracy is to elect representatives for the central government who are in charge of ensuring that what the citizens deserve is fulfilled. It is to establish a government by means of universal suffrage that can direct and carry forward a certain country.

Limits and difficulties

Among the risks or difficulties that a representative democracy can have, we can mention that the State authorities can prioritize individual interests and forget those of the people, love for the homeland is lost, the government can become a government of political parties that only focus their campaigns on money and propaganda .

Representative democracy also has some limits , which are all the circumstances that prevent the will of the majority from prevailing , respect for minorities and for the rights of the people is lost, so democracy does not guarantee the common good for the people. citizens , who also become part of the limits.


Countries that practice representative democracy have several advantages, such as:

  • Members of the public who have limited knowledge or interest in political affairs may elect qualified representatives to oversee and safeguard their interests.
  • Members of the public who have representatives who carry out their duties and political decisions focus on their daily activities.
  • Elected representatives can add demands from the public and shape them into a politically coherent and practical program.
  • Representative democracy is very efficient , since the decision-making process in a representative democracy is streamlined and it is fast since the representatives are few in relation to the enormous number of people they represent.
  • The accountability is another advantage observed in a representative democracy since the representatives are responsible for any decision to adopt even though they have been granted the authority to represent the public in the governance of the country.


Among the disadvantages of having a representative democracy we mention:

  • A disadvantage is the misplaced trust of members of the public as their voice in government affairs ends after the election of their respective representatives .
  • The hopes and aspirations of all members of the public, as well as their expectations about how their affairs should be analyzed, rests with elected representatives , who may turn a deaf ear to their interests.
  • Elected representatives may be pushing their individual and selfish agendas , putting aside the needs of the public.
  • Only the affairs of the majority and not the minority are analyzed .
  • Representatives are elected by a majority of the votes in an election and none are elected unanimously .
  • There is a small minority whose decision is not taken into account in an election and therefore often feel neglected in the management of government affairs .
  • The public may choose a corrupt representative after being manipulated into doing so through bribery or false promises . The elected representative may not deliver on his promises to voters without any repercussions.

Forms of participation in representative democracy

Regarding the forms of participation of representative democracy, voting is the mechanism used to invest legitimacy in the representatives who have been elected to act and make decisions on behalf of their represented. It is also used the political parties , legal organizations and ideological cut , which are formed by a group of citizens to represent the interests of sectors of the population.

How it differs from direct democracy

The difference between the two democracies is that direct democracy is a type of sovereignty that resides in the people and is exercised by the people themselves without the need to elect representatives to govern them , while representative democracy is governed by the people governed by representatives who are elected by it by means of suffrage , and any person has the right to elect and be elected.


The importance of representative democracy is that it involves the exercise of power so indirectly for each citizen . There is a balance between the three powers of the republic, the executive, legislative and judicial , at three different levels that are federal, state and municipal . In addition, it establishes a better control of the markets.

Examples of countries with representative democracy

Some examples of countries with representative democracy are the following:

  • United States , which is one of the oldest and most stable democracies in the world.
  • United Kingdom , which has a parliamentary monarchy associated with democracy.
  • Ireland combining aspects of republican parliamentary democracy.

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