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WHAT IS A DEMOCRACY A democracy is a form of government a way of life a goal or ideal and a political philosophy ie a democratic form of government Abraham Lincoln described it by saying a government of the people by the people for the people It literally means rule by the people However there are several different meanings 1 A form of government in which the right to make political decisions is expressed directly by the whole body of citizens acting under procedures of majority rule This form is usually known as direct democracy 2 A form of government in which the citizens exercise the same right not in person but through representatives chosen by and responsible to them This is known as representative democracy 3 A form of government usually a representative democracy in which the powers of the majority are exercised within the framework of constitutional restraints designed to guarantee all citizens the enjoyment of certain individual or collective rights such as freedom of speech and religion This form is known as liberal or constitutional democracy 4 Any political or social system that tends to minimise social and economic differences especially those arising out of the unequal distribution of private property This last form is known as social or economic democracy even when the political system is not democratic in any of the first three senses Democracy also implies competition for office freedom of speech and the press and the rule of law It incorporates the principles of individual equality and freedom The people have a right to enjoy freedom from undue interference and domination by the government Representative parliaments freely elected under universal franchise are the central institutions of democratic governments Representative democracy is when the people of the particular area elect a certain number of people to represent them in relation to making decisions about laws and other matters Its main features are free elections majority
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