Nature of democracy
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The term democracy means different things to different people, at different times.
Etymologically speaking, the word democracy comes from the Greek and means: the rule of the people.
Most people would oppose the concept of democracy to those of dictatorship, oligarchy or monarchy. In the latter ones, we have a single ruler or a small group of persons ruling over the common people, which represent the huge majority of the population. Hence democracy promotes the notion of majority rule. When speaking of "promoting democracy", it is generally said as opposed to dictatorial or oligarchical regimes.
Modern countries have millions to hundreds of millions of inhabitants. Most would consider that it is impractical to ask the entire population to rule itself. Thus modern democracies have evolved into representative democracies whereby the people elect representatives to rule in their stead, for the benefit of the whole population.
Such an arrangement is greatly affected by several factors such as the election method used to select the representatives of the people, and the role of the political parties and the media in the whole process. If we want to improve our representative democracies, we need to take into account each of those factors.
In our modern age, access to technologies such as the Internet has led some people to reconsider the notion of representative democracy. They propose to use such modern technologies to allow the entire population to vote on each issue. Depending on the exact implementation, it would be as if there were a public referendum on each policy bill.
- Wikipedia: Democracy.