Ralph, in many ways, embodies a democratic approach to leadership on the island. Whereas Jack is eager to seize power and maintain it through disseminating fear and encouraging greed and other base instincts throughout the population, Ralph seems open to the idea of democratic leadership when he first learns to blow the conch. He is amazed and delighted when the others begin to assemble once he has called them.
Like many leaders, Ralph has a canny advisor; his is Piggy. Ralph is nice-looking and well-born; Piggy is from a lower class and physically unattractive. Ralph becomes the face of the democratic faction on the island and depends on Piggy's intellect and Simon's humanity to shape policy.
Ralph very quickly adapts to his leadership role when he wins the election against Jack. He attempts to placate Jack and keep him close by giving him control of the choir, who become the hunters. Ralph seems to instinctively understand the separation of powers in a democracy.
Ralph attempts to keep the focus on keeping the boys safe and well while never keeping the goal of rescue far from his thoughts. He is far more of a man of the people than Jack, whose interests are darker, self-serving, and ultimately destructive.
It is Ralph who first proposes that a chief be chosen to lead the boys, and he agrees with Roger's suggestion that the boys vote for the leader. Ralph also creates the policy that the possessor of the conch will be able to speak while the others must listen. Ralph allows Jack to keep his choir boys and to choose their main responsibility, and Ralph establishes the twice-daily meetings so the boys can discuss their needs. Ralph treats the littluns as equals, recognizing that they have special needs and cannot be expected to match the physical exertions of the older boys. As the duly elected leader, Ralph stands up to Jack and disagrees with his ridiculous blood-lust for hunting, knowing that the conflict may cause later problems. Even after Jack splits from the group, Ralph attempts to maintain order, reminding the boys that he has been duly elected as leader, and that the power of the conch must be recognized.