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Democracy Greek demosthe people kratein to rule political system in which the people of a country rule through any form of government they choose to establish In modern democracies supreme authority is exercised for the most part by representatives elected by popular suffrage The representatives may be supplanted by the electorate according to the legal procedures of recall and referendum and they are at least in principle responsible to the electorate In many democracies such as the United States both the executive head of government and the legislature are elected In typical constitutional monarchies such as the United Kingdom and Norway only the legislators are elected and from their ranks a cabinet and a prime minister are chosen Although often used interchangeably the terms democracy and republic are not synonymous Both systems delegate the power to govern to their elected representatives In a republic however these officials are expected to act on their own best judgment of the needs and interests of the country The officials in a democracy more generally and directly reflect the known or ascertained views of their constituents sometimes subordinating their own judgment Rule by the people played an important part in the democracies of the pre-Christian era The democracies of the city-states of classical Greece and of Rome during the early years of the Republic were unlike the democracies of today They were direct democracies in which all citizens could speak and vote in assemblies that resembled New England town meetings Representative government was unknown and unnecessary because of the small size of the city-states almost never more than 10000 citizens Ancient democracy did not presuppose equality of all individuals the majority of the populace notably slaves and women had no political rights Athens the greatest of the city democracies limited the franchise to native-born citizens Roman democracy resembled that of the Greeks although Rome sometimes granted citizenship to men of non-Roman descent The Roman Stoic philosophy which defined
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