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Explain the difference between direct and indirect democracy and cite examples of each. Do we need more or less direct democracy?

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Phillip Holland eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Direct democracy is where the citizens vote directly in elections. Each citizen has one vote. This type of democracy is common is class elections and other small organizational meetings. Ancient Athenians used direct democracy when they voted. They indicated their vote by using colored shards of pottery.

Indirect democracy is where citizens vote for representatives who then go on to vote on issues. This exists in the United States in the form of the people voting to send individuals to Congress. It also exists with the Electoral College, as people do not vote directly for president but for a slate of electors.

Both types of democracy have their benefits. Direct democracy's "one person, one vote" ideology is egalitarian. Indirect democracy creates fewer votes to be counted and is therefore more efficient. It also safeguards people from mob rule, as people can vote for legislators who can focus on governing. On the other hand, indirect democracy can also lead to corruption as the leaders picked by the people can feel isolated from the will of the people and can therefore mismanage the people's resources. While your opinion may be different, I believe that indirect democracy has more good points than bad when it comes to governing a nation. It is a safeguard against mob rule, and it provides for more efficient governance and decision-making. In small groups, such as a class election, direct democracy is the more viable form.

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Michael Koren eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There is a difference between a direct and an indirect democracy. In a direct democracy, individuals make all the decisions themselves. For example, they will vote on proposed laws. In ancient Greece, there were some examples of direct democracies in some of the city-states that existed. Today, a direct democracy can be seen when people vote on a referendum to exceed the tax limit set by law. In local school districts in Wisconsin, the voters must approve the budget and tax levy for a school district. All voters in the school district may attend the meeting and vote on these issues.

An indirect democracy is when we elect representatives to make the laws for us such as in Congress or in the state legislatures. These representatives should listen to what the majority of their constituents tell them and then vote according to the wishes of a majority of the voters. This system is easier than a direct democracy since it would be difficult to assemble all of the voters of a city, state, or country every time an issue needed to be decided.

I feel we don’t need more direct democracy. It would be very difficult to assemble all voters every time an issue needed to be decided. Also, with a direct democracy, too many issues, which may be only a concern for a handful of people, might constantly be brought forward for a vote and, therefore, a gathering of the voters.

 

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Direct democracy is when everyone votes. An example is local ballot initiatives. Indirect democracy is when people vote for representatives, who vote for them. An example is the electoral college. The purpose of the electoral college is to act as a failsafe if the public makes a stupid choice. I think we have the technology for more direct democracy, and we need to use it.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Direct democracy is when the people vote directly on the laws or other issues that are proposed.  Indirect democracy is when the people elect representatives who vote on laws on the behalf of the people.

An example of indirect democracy is when we elect people to Congress to represent us.

An example of direct democracy is the initiative or referendum process.  This is similar to the process by which California banned gay marriages last year.

In my opinion, many states, especially in the West, could use less direct democracy.  California is a prime example.  There seem to me to be too many ballot issues and they are generally placed on the ballot by organizations with enough money to pay for signatures to be gathered to get the measures on the ballot.  Then people vote for these often complicated measures without having enough knowledge to fully understand the impact of the measures.

So I do not think the average person knows enough to have an informed opinion on most ballot issues.  Simple issues, like gay marriage, are okay, but complicated ones are best left to people who have time to become somewhat expert on the issues.

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