Direct vs. Representative Democracy
Is direct democracy preferable to representative democracy?
Please cast your vote after you've read the arguments.
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
Direct democracy gives power back to the people. Getting to vote only once every 4 years (for examp...
Direct democracy would speed up political processes. If urgent action were needed, decisions could ...
People today are apathetic and distrustful about politics, which is very unhealthy for a democracy. ...
Direct democracy gives power to people by by-passing other organisations. Governments are constantl...
In a democracy, everyone's opinion should be equal, because there are no right or wrong beliefs abou...
Direct democracy would lead to better decision-making than we get under representative democracy. E...
Using Representative Democracy is the only way of ensuring the rights of minorities
Under such circumstances, the role of the state becomes more important then ever. The state is responsible for ensuring that all its people are given all their rights regardless of their religion, caste, color, creed or sexuality. Even if the minorities are oppressed, it is essentially the role of the state to make sure they are provided security, along with their basic rights as well as equal opportunity in all spheres of life. The only way all these rights will be fulfilled will be through representative democracy. Some might argue that even democratically chosen representatives might discriminate against minorities, but for that there are already safety mechanisms in place, for example we can rely on the international community to exert pressure on such representatives and to overturn such policies which discriminate against minorities.
In Switzerland where direct democracy is practiced, the Minaret Ban discriminated against minority Muslims by prohibiting them from building minarets in mosque buildings [[http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2009/11/2009112915164769444.html]]
So in essence, under representative democracy, the rights of the minorities will be ensured and even in case the representatives themselves indulge in discriminatory behavior against minorities, there are already mechanisms in place to deal with that.
Representative democracy better caters to a bigger electorate
Since direct democracy works by taking the views of the majority on every major policy decision, it involves ensuring a fair poll which makes the process very difficult. Not only will this be a challenge in bigger countries but it will also require significant financial resources, apart from that a large workforce will have to be employed at polling stations, a government holiday will also has to be declared for such polls, even after paying a huge price a fair vote cannot be ensured. Countries who are currently struggling with their finances will never be able to follow such an approach as it would heavily strain their resources and bring down the overall productivity in the country.
Under the status quo, direct democracy is not used often because it is very difficult to ensure a fair vote, in which all the people can express their views on a certain policy, it is much more efficient and convenient to elect representatives and have them express the views of the population as in representative democracy.
Another underlying assumption with direct democracy is how people assume the population of a country will be willing to participate in the voting process on a regular basis at the expense of the their own personal resources. In countries like Japan where people work for long hours every day ,just to earn a living, they would be content having to elect a representative with strong values they agree to , as present in his/ her manifesto every 4-5 years, than to be a part of the polling process on a regular basis.
Even when elections for choosing representatives take place, we see how voter turnout is constantly declining which proves how impractical having polls on a regular basis is.
Representative democracy forms a more stable set up
In contrast under direct democracy, the general population of a country is responsible for all policy making. This means that according to the changing views of the general population, policies may be changed or altered frequently which would take a toll on the overall stability of the state.
Further substantiating the matter, for example if the people of a country like China agree to change their export and investment policies, it would drastically affect the economy, if they decide to overturn such policies again, it would push the country’s economy into long term decline as such frequent policy shifts will cause the investors to be more cautious.
Under representative democracy, the elected individuals will be responsible for making policies which will be more stable and consistent and would hence be beneficial to the people.
While this shows how policies would be consistent, it’s important not to confuse this idea with dictatorship as there are mechanisms in place to impeach a representative who doesn’t work according to the will of the people.
Representative democracy ensures the long-term betterment of a country
Austerity measures being introduced all over Europe and more specifically Greece and the widespread often violent opposition they have received are an excellent example of this phenomenon. The government in Greece understands that if these measures are not enforced, the Greek economy and thus the Greek population would suffer in the long run. However, the measures, if taken, would result in reduced economic benefits/remuneration for the Greek population in the short run and thus are opposed , often to the extent of violence, by the vast majority of Greek population. Indeed in a recent survey by the ALCO 75% [[http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2011/05/28/public-poll-75-greeks-say-governmentausterity-measures-wrong/]] of the Greek population are against the imposition of the austerity measures. The government however understands that if it does implement these measures, even against the immediate opinion of the population, it stands to gain significant political ground in the long term, since it will be held responsible for the economic prosperity these measures bring later on; it will gain significant public favour in the next elections or the ones after that, and thus will introduce these measures.
Thus under a representative democracy the people’s long term interests are looked after and preserved by the government in a responsible manner.
Representative democracy leads to national unity
The reason democratically elected representatives can be relied on to fulfill this duty is the mere fact that they must maintain their popularity in all different communities in a society. They must resolve any difference of opinion and hence follow the path of reconciliation between two parties to resolve a conflict in order to come up with a unifying policy acceptable to all sides and stakeholders.
What do you think?