For and against representative democracy

For and against representative democracy


  • Practicable democracy - it is the only form of democracy that can operate in large, modern societies.
  • Government by experts - decision making is left to those who are educated and politically skilled. They can use this knowledge to act in public interest.
  • Division of political labour - ordinary citizens are relieved of the burden of day-to-day decision making.
  • Political stability - representative democracy distances citizens from the political process, encouraging them to accept compromise. A degree of apathy is required for political stability.


  • Not the purest form of democracy - representative democracy turns participation into a ritualistic act that is divorced from real political decisions.
  • Lack of political education - leaving government to experts assumes that political education for the masses is unnecessary, as they are distanced from the political process.
  • Career politicians - the politicians who make day-to-day decisions in the Commons are party whipped, and may make decisions based on self-interest. Their constituents have little control over this.
  • Political apathy - in distancing citizens from the political process, representative democracy creates political apathy through lack of education and connection with politics.


Representative democracy is undoubtedly the most stable and practicable form of democracy, but this is at the expense of the political engagement and education of the citizens, which could eventually lead to a break-down in democracy due to low turnouts and voter apathy, or the unknowing election of a dangerous leader due to lack of political education.


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