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What Is Democracy?

  • Harry CollinsEmail author
  • Robert Evans
  • Darrin Durant
  • Martin Weinel
Chapter

Abstract

There are many forms of democracy. Importantly, is there continual accounting to the public via referendums—‘direct democracy’—or do the people choose representatives who govern relatively independently between elections? It is natural in representative democracy for experts to be consulted by the elected government, whereas if directness is the ideal, experts can look like unaccountable elites. Under ‘pluralist democracy’ governments’ power is limited by institutional ‘checks and balances’, such as the judiciary, the free press and alternative parliamentary chambers, ensuring that minorities and minority opinions are not completely suppressed. Checks and balances require experts. There are many other dimensions of democracies including voting systems and the degree of devolution, but an uncritical advocacy of ‘rule by the people’ is antagonistic to pluralist democracy.

Keywords

Democracy Direct democracy Representative democracy Pluralist democracy Checks and balances Experts 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harry Collins
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert Evans
    • 1
  • Darrin Durant
    • 2
  • Martin Weinel
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social SciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  2. 2.Historical & Philosophical StudiesUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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