Comparing Direct and Representative Democracy

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Advantages of Representative Democracy

The advantages of representative democracy are:

  • Elected representative, such as MPs, may have superior knowledge and judgement. This avoids hasty and emotional decisions made directly by the people. 
    • The people may not have much knowledge on issues to make a wise decision.
  • Representatives and parties are able to mediate (intervene) between the interests of different sections of society. 
    • Direct democracy means the will of the majority always prevails, making the minorities vulnerable.
  • Issues involving conflicting interests require complex solutions. MPs have the knowledge to be able to do so and will know what is best.
    • Whereas the people do not have the correct knowledge to do be able to make complex solutions as direct democracy tends to reduce all questions to over-simplified answers. 
  • Representative democracy can make better sense of demands made directly by the people, and can convert them into practical programmes. 
    • Whereas, these demands are often incoherent and illogical in direct democracy.
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Advantages of Direct Democracy

The advantages of Direct Democracy are:

  • Direct democracy is the purest form of democracy as the people make the decisions. 
    • However, the people do not have all the knowledge required to make wise decisions on constitutional or political matters.
  • Decisions made directly by the people may now carry more authority. 
  • Direct democracy avoids decisions being made by representatives, purely in their own interests (party whip). 
    • However, the electorate opinion may not be the correct or right decision for Britain. 
  • People are increasingly becoming well informed and educated on politics, therefore they can make their own judgements. 
    • However, the majority of the electorate are not educated in politics and do not care for it, so a direct democracy would be letting uneducated people making the decisions, and their judgement may be incorrect. 
  • People prefer to make decisions for themselves, especially when there is disillusionment with representative institutions. 
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