Please list some disadvantages of democracy in detail.  

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shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator


Someone once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government there is, except for all the others.” (Winston Churchill once uttered the words, but it is believed that he was quoting someone else—we aren't sure who.)

Democracy has been around for a long time, but it has not always been as common as it is now.

Depending on the source you use, about one-half to two-thirds of the world's 192 countries are democracies. But even once you have identified a country as democratic, there is still a wide variation in how those democracies function. Some are left-leaning, with socialistic aspects, such as Norway. Others, like the United States, are more conservative (although the U. S. has its socialistic aspects also).

Although democracy appears to have become the preferred form of government in a world that has become more educated and technologically advanced, it is certainly not without its share of problems.

Political gridlock: Democracies have competing political parties that often oppose each other on key issues. When the two (or more) parties are relatively equal in power, it can be difficult to get things done, as one party continually blocks the efforts of the other. We see this happen in the U. S. when one party controls Congress (or at least a part of it) and another controls the White House.

Apathy: Typically, only about one-third of eligible voters actually take the time to cast votes. That means a minority is making decisions that will affect the majority.

Pressure to win votes: Politicians generally have to face re-election pressures every two to six years. This means they have to keep their constituencies happy. Sometimes that means sacrificing what might be best for the entire country in an effort to appease their own voters. 

Power of money: Winning elections in first-world democracies means spending a lot of money on campaigns and campaign advertising. Candidates who do not have access to large campaign war chests are at a considerable electoral disadvantage. But, in order to amass campaign cash, candidates have to make promises—promises about policy and political appointments. As always, money talks, so donors who have money are able to influence policy behind the scenes.

All of these problems could theoretically be avoided with a totalitarian government that did not have to worry about elections and money. But the prospect of tyranny would soon rear its ugly head, no doubt. Democracy, at the very least, forces leaders to at least maintain the appearance of good public stewardship. After that, it is up to the voters to educate themselves well enough to shove the government in the right direction.