Merits and Weaknesses of Direct Democracy

  • Created by: xfirereg
  • Created on: 21-02-19 13:26

Merits and Weaknesses of Direct Democracy


  • Removes the need for trusted representatives as people take responsibility for their own decisions
  • Gives equal weight to all votes (unlike representative systems where the varying sizes of constituencies means that votes do not all have equal value)
  • Encourages popular participation in politics by expecting people to take their citizenship duties seriously leading to a more knowledgable electorate
  • It can avoid delay and deadlock within the political system
  • Active citizenship leads to a higher acceptance level and thus greater legitimacy
  • Politicians can be corrupt or are not any more knowledgable than ordinary citizens on certain issues


  • Politicians are democratically accountable for their decisions making them act responsibly in the interests of their constituents
  • 'Tyranny of the majority' as majority interests are not mediated by parliamentary institutions (minority interests ignored)
  • Voter ignorance: ordinary citizens are not competent to rule wisely in their own interests and are swayed by emotions rather than reason including the manipulation by the most cleverest and articulate speakers
  • Impractical in a large, heavily populated modern state
  • Many people will not want to (or feel qualified to) take part in decision-making so political activists will decide what happens especially as repetition of participation can lead to low turnout over time
  • Elected politicians have parliamentary knowledge and have time to become versed on a particular issues through research or lobbying


Though direct democracy removes the need for representatives who can act in their own judgements (not delegates), elected representatives can mediate between the interests of the majority and minorities as people cannot be held accountable for themselves.


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