Direct vs Indirect Democracy
Direct and Indirect Democracy have to be viewed as two different types of democracy between which certain differences can be identified. Let us approach the discussion of democracy in this manner. There are various forms of political systems and governance in different countries of the world. From the extreme right where we have dictatorship, autocracy, monarchy to the middle where we have different types of democracy and finally on the left where we have communism and socialism to rule the people, we find that it is democracy, with all its follies and limitations that is being utilized by a majority of nations of the world. Though, democracy is of many types; here we will confine ourselves to a classification of democracies into direct and indirect democracies. There are differences in these two types of democracies that will be talked about in this article.
What is Direct Democracy?
First before understanding the concept of Direct Democracy it is vital to define the term democracy. Democracy is described as a rule of the people, by the people and for the people. This definition emphasizes the fact that democracy has the potential to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the people of a country, and their voice is given importance in deciding policy issue pertaining to matters that are of importance for them. In democracy, there are two types, namely Direct and Indirect democracy.
Direct democracy is when people’s voice is heard directly and counted in the form of a referendum as it happened in California a short time ago when people voted on laws pertaining to gay marriages. The best examples of direct democracy are referendums that are held in many countries on important public matters to help legislators come up with a law or enforce changes in an existing law. Yet, direct democracy, howsoever, simple it might seem, is not always resorted to and when it come to matters of grave concerns, it is only the elected representatives that have the power to decide the fate of their population.
What is Indirect Democracy?
Before moving on to a definition of Indirect Democracy, one must pay attention to government formation. It is clear that government formation and deciding on matters of importance to the people of a country is not easy if left over to be implemented by the people. This is why there is a system of election of representatives of the people, and it is these representatives that become legislators in parliament or whatever it is called in a country. This is known as indirect democracy as representatives are elected by people themselves, and thus, they represent the views, likes and dislikes of the people.
However, there is distortion in this system as legislators remain away from the reality on the ground, and often get involved in corruption because of the power they get. They forget that they are in power for a limited period, and have to face the electorate after a few years.
This highlights that unlike in Direct Democracy in Indirect democracy people elect their representatives to make or amend laws in the parliament. Now let us summarize the difference in the following manner.
What is the Difference Between Direct and Indirect Democracy?
- When people elect their representatives to make or amend laws in the parliament, it is a system of indirect democracy.
- Direct democracy is when people’s voice is heard directly and counted in the form of a referendum as it happened in California a short time ago when people voted on laws pertaining to gay marriages.
- However, in most of the countries, it is indirect democracy that is professed and practiced as it is commonly felt that common man is neither that mature nor too intelligent to be able to think in a decisive manner on matters of importance.
- On some occasions, direct democracy is practiced to decide the fate of simple matters, but indirect democracy is mostly practiced to decide matters of great importance.
1. “Huntington town meeting” by Redjar [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
2. “Election MG 3455” by Rama [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons