What is "Direct Democracy"?


Direct democracy effectively calls for democracy not to organise itself around elected representatives to express the views of citizens and/or decide policy on their behalf. Instead, elected representatives and assemblies would be supplemented or replaced with new institutions and processes where citizens can directly engage face-to-face with each other to decide on policy outcomes.

This model seems attractive for a number of reasons because it recalls the free-flowing citizen participation used in ancient Athens, the birthplace of Western democracy. It is also viewed by its supporters as the most ‘authentic’ form of democracy because it gives citizen direct control over the democratic process.

However, direct democracy’s difficulties lie in developing a practical, workable model that reconciles democratic decision-making by everyone with the realities of large-scale, complex societies.


Thumbnail image: Speaker's Platform, Pnyx Hill, Athens. By Larry/Flickr