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Last updated 22 Mar 2021
Democracy is where power is exercised by the mass of the people. The word itself comes from the Greek words “Demos” – meaning mass of the people, and “Kratos” – meaning power.
There are different interpretations of how democracy should be exercised. The main two are called ‘direct democracy’ and ‘representative democracy’.
Direct Democracy is when citizens are granted the right to speak and vote on all issues, with the majority view becoming law. It existed in a very imperfect form in the ancient Greek city-state of Athens. Nowadays, modern technology has enabled millions of voters to vote on specific issues in the form of referendums.
Representative Democracy – is where citizens choose others to represent them, making important decisions on their behalf. It is also called ‘indirect democracy’. In the UK, there is a system of representative democracy called ‘liberal democracy – in which the people vote for a government through regular elections with secret ballots and a choice of candidates. Government is accountable to the people, and has its power limited in some way, in part by a free press and the individual rights of the people.