Indirect democracy

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Democracies are sometimes divided into direct and indirect (also known as representative democracy). The latter are the most common.

In indirect, or representative democracy, citizens elect representatives to make laws on their behalf.[1] This is what most modern countries have today.

In many representative democracies (Canada, the USA, Britain, etc.), representatives are most commonly chosen in elections where a winning candidate has to win more votes than any other candidate. That does not mean that it must be a majority of the votes cast. In theory other methods, such as sortition (more closely aligned with direct democracy), could be used instead. Also, representatives sometimes hold the power to select other representatives, presidents, or other officers of government (indirect representation).

Direct democracy is where citizens themselves vote for or against specific proposals or laws. Some city states in Ancient Greece had this system. With the large populations in modern countries it is possible only occasionally to do this. It happens in a plebicite or referendum.

In a democracy the ultimate power to decide significant electoral system reforms lies with the people. The key question that democrats will tend to ask of any proposed change in electoral law or the voting mechanism is: “Will it actually increase the capacity of the electorate to get rid of unsatisfactory rulers and replace them with others?” Democrats regard that basic capacity as the best protection against bad government and the abuse of power.

Systems of government which do not permit electors to change the government are not democratic, and usually are dictatorships or one-party states.

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