In a democracy, the people are the ones who ultimately have the power, but I suppose you would say that it is the government (elected by the people) that governs. In a democracy, the people elect representatives who then create and execute the laws.
From this, you can see that citizen participation is very important in a democracy. The people, for one thing, vote for their representatives. This is perhaps the most important way in which they participate. But the people also have other ways of making their opinions known. Democracies tend to have interest groups where people join together to pressure the government to do things in some particular way.
So, in a democracy, the people participate a lot. They let the government know what they want. Because the people elect the government, the leaders have to listen to the people to some extent.
The previous thoughts are accurate. The power in a pure democracy rests with the people. They are the source of all authority and all power from the most theoretical of sense. At the same time, if the people do not assert their power in such a setting, then the government and those in the position of power are able to wrestle some of this power away from the people. In any government, it is a problem when citizens become apathetic or politically inactive. This is a major problem in a democratic setting because power is meant to rest with the people. Citizen participation is determined by the people and should be encouraged by the government. However, it benefits the authority structure and those in the position of power if people in a democracy withdraw from the participation process.
Democracy is a Greek term made up of two words 'demos' meaning 'people' and 'kratos' meaning 'power.' It literally means 'rule of the people.'
There are two types of democracy. They are 'direct democracy' and 'representative democracy.'
Direct democracy: In this form of democracy all the citizens who wish to participate in the ruling process are free to do so. Needless to say this ideal state of affairs is possible only if the population of the state is very small.
Representative democracy: This is a form of government by elected representatives. Since direct democracy is virtually impossible in a modern nation state the people elect their representatives who pass laws to rule the nation. In this form of government once the representatives are elected by the citizens they completely forget them and fulfill their own selfish needs and desires.
In spite of all these drawbacks where the common man is only left with the illusion that he has an important role to play in a democracy, this form of government continues to be popular all over the world.