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Is direct democracy superior to representative democracy? Show more Show less

At a time when voters are increasingly disengaged from the political process and disillusioned with their elected officials, many are starting to question whether direct democracy could hold the answer to solving the problem of the growing democratic malaise.

No, representative democracy is better Show more Show less

Individual citizens cannot be expected to truly understand every policy issue. It makes more sense for officials to be elected to make the decisions for them.
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Direct democracy is open to being hijacked by populism

In a direct democracy, the framing of the issue can have a big impact on how people vote.
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The Argument

Direct democracy has few checks or balances and is based upon the notion that the majority of the populace will be right. This democratic absolutism is open to being hijacked by nativist sentiments and ideological extremists, as complicated issues often have to be boiled down for the public into straight forward positions. The recent referendums in the UK on its membership of the European Union and on the question of Scottish Independence have shown that populists are easily able to manipulate direct democratic initiatives and polarise the electorate.

Counter arguments

In a direct democracy the people are the government. They vote directly for the policies that they favour giving them a level of say in government policy that representative democracy is unable to match. Increased levels of direct democracy also challenge the notion of a political ‘elite’ who are designated to rule in the people's stead, as it is the people, not a parliament or monarch which is considered sovereign.



[P1] A direct democracy system is highly vulnerable to being hijacked by oversimplified and populist framing of the issue.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] A direct democracy is a more representative way of voting, regardless of the framing of the issue.


Further Reading


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    This page was last edited on Monday, 30 Mar 2020 at 09:12 UTC