the democracy (Greek δημοκρατία, of δήμος, démos - people and κρατία, kratía - power, rule, Kraft, Stärke) designated first in the antique Greece the direct democracy (today: direct democracy, radical democracy, basis democracy). Today democracy becomesmostly as the more general comprehensive term for systems of government uses, whose rule basis is derived from the people.


in the representative democracies in such a way specified for this by the citizens of a state representatives are selected (or determined in the past also by lot), thoseover parliaments and in the government on behalf the people rule to exercise are. With predominantly directdemocratic systems of government the people exercises power, for example by means of popular votes and cooperative planning. Characteristic of the representative democracy is that through legally constitutedProcedure - usually elections - which government without revolution can change; herein it differs to the despotism.

Colloquially under democratically often also all involved one fairly including proceeding is understood. From this also in the following the represented democracy understanding follows,components of the western/conception of the German Federal Republic of the civil-human (on the right of) state under the term democracy summarizes, which are with it neither semantic nor historically explainable. Early democracy theoreticians of the modern times faced the principle of the constitutional state or a condition sceptically, there these powerthe people to decide sovereign would impair - just as early liberals theoreticians saw the democracy sceptical, since a consistent democracy could intervene also problem-free in the individual liberty rights of the particular. After western democracy understanding is apart from the participation of all citizensalso the constitutional state and the safety device of the human rights desirably.

In Germany the democracy is specified by the Basic Law as basic condition principle. All government authority proceeds from the people. It becomes of the people in elections and tunings and by special organs thatLegislation, the carrying out force and the iurisdiction exercised. (Kind. 20, exp. 2 GG). Also in the Austrian Federal Constitution it already means in the article 1: Austria is a democratic republic. Their right proceeds from the people.

Table of contents


the history of the democracy is closely linked with the idea that Nature rights, today rather admits under the term of the human rights. Outgoing of it the idea of the equal rights of the free ones was developed, which appear in the early beginnings to democratic societies. The codesigning powers of humans hung first, as of eventerm mentioned implies, at the status of the person: Only free ones - which excluded slaves, women and non--citizens - these rights held.

As the first implementation of the democracy in history the antique Atti democracy is regarded, those after violent struggle of the Aristocracy and that realms with the simple people established was and all male full citizens of the city Athens of rights of codetermination in the government granted. Officials were determined or selected by lot.

The system of government was not undisputed, granted it nevertheless for example thatPatriate the right to send fellow citizen, which were regarded as dangerous for the democracy, into banishing (see also Ostrakismos, ostracism) - a practice, which was used quite frequently and not always for the well-being of Athens. Also were thoseResolutions of the popular assembly easily influenceable - the Demagoge arose and should play pretty often a unfortunate role in the policy of Athens (see. Kleon and Alkibiades as well as Peloponnesi war). Also in other pole ice of the attischen sea-federation democracies were furnished,however above all to ensure it should that the interests of Athens were protected.

The well-known old historian the introduction of the democracy explained Christian Meier by the Greeks by the fact that they would have discovered that democracy is the answer to the question, howthe policy to succeed can to make also the rule to the article from politics to (Lit.: see. Meier, the emergence of the political one with the Greeks).

The antique philosopher Aristoteles uses the term democracy in its politics negatively,in order to designate the rule arms; this „degenerate system of government “would pursue not the well-being of the public, but only the well-being of a part of the population (even arms). However it did not reject the democracy (in its moderate form) strictly,as for instance still its teacher Platon this did. Aristoteles pleaded however for a form of the mixing condition between democracy and oily archie, the Politie in such a way specified. Basis of the democratic system of government Aristoteles called the liberty. There the liberty most importantCharacteristic of the democracy is, did not want democrats dearest not to be governed to be able, or then nevertheless only abwechslungsweise. To the liberty it belongs thus that one governs alternating and is governed: „All offices are occupied from all, all prevail over everyone and everyoneabwechslungsweise over all “. These offices were occupied by lot, preferably everything, however these, which would not require special experience or knowledge. The offices are all short term nature and might - apart from offices for war - only few marks be occupied.

Also those Roman republic carried out a society with rudimentary democratic elements, based on the idea of the equal rights of the free ones with the choice of republican municipal authorities, up to the gradual, continuous separation by the Prinzipat even if the oligarchische principle were determining certainly.It is however nevertheless pointed out that the historian Fergus Millar represents another point of view and much more than a kind directdemocratic commonwealth interpreted the Roman republic; the relevant discussion is not terminated yet. The historically for us more meaningAchievement of Rome might be however the establishment of an early form of a constitutional state - a concept, which is connected likewise closely with our current understanding of democracy.

At present the Middle Ages the democratic ideas almost completely displaced out of Europe, only inthe realm cities with citizen rights and parts of Switzerland these ideas partly survived.

The probably earliest larger democratic movement in earlymodern Europe developed during the English civil war in the numbers of the British House of Commons and the parliamentary new Model Army, of themmost well-known speaker John Lilburne was. Contrary to the system of the attischen democracy, John Lilburne recognized neither the slavery, nor the body characteristic as rightfully on, but demanded a general and same right to vote for all men, whom he regarded as “free-born”. Thusit put the foundation-stone for the later representatives of the modern democracy. Its party turned out however for their part rapidly under mockery on the part of the aristocracy, which accused it, for a “rule for arms” to use itself and became therefore also as” Levellers “(“Gleichmacher”) designates. Like already the antique rulers, then also the later Oberschicht regarded all democratic movements with largest distrust and accused to them from fear of the loss of their privileges to want to bring the “Pöbel” to power.

1762 published Jean Jacques Rousseauyou contract Social; ou Principes you Droit Politique “and established the identitäre democracy theory, which ruler controlled and equates with the present contract Treaty. In such a way developing people sovereignty is based on the common will, „volonté générale “. Alsothe division of power in legislation , Judikative and executive, established by John curl and Charles de Secondat Montesquieu , as an elementary component of a modern democratic right state one regards.

At the same time in the USA five Indians had united - trunks for the federation of the Irokesenand itself an advice condition given.Benjamin Franklin and other American statesmen could be energized regarding the arrangement of the American condition of the Irokesen.

Pre-working these philosophers, the model of the English parliamentarism and also the model of the irokesischen condition foundConsideration, as with the condition of the USA 1787 the first modern democratic state, which, developed for the USA. Poland was the second state with a democratic condition (3. May 1791) and first in Europe. These processes inspired those And led French revolution to a gradual democratization of other European countries (although by any means to all, do not see tsarist Russia, Austria Hungary, Prussia etc.), whereby the English parliamentarism earns special mention.

Substantial characteristics of the democracy

pure democracy as system of government always ordersover the following characteristics.

  • Individual liberty is limited in favor of public goods.
  • There are demos and/or. a group (people), which accomplishes political decisions in collective procedures. Only members demos participate in it. (In today's democracies is the demos the nationand the nationality corresponds to the membership.)
  • it gives a territory, in which the decisions are used and in that of the demos are settled. Nowadays this is the territory of the national state and because this corresponds theoretically with the homeland of the people,agree demos and range of the democratic process. Colonies of democracies were not regarded even as democratic, if they were governed by the democratic motherland. (Demos and territory did not agree.)
  • there is a decision identification procedure, which either directly for political standards(for example as referendum) or indirectly (for example over the choice of a representing parliament) functions. This procedure is regarded legitimized of demos already thereby as if its result becomes accepted „“. Political legitimacy is the readiness or also the powerlessness thatPopulation the decisions of the state (thus the government and the courts) against individual advantages and interests accept or to accept to have. This is important, because democratic elections have always winners and losers. At least the procedure must be so effective,that it can be used for changes of government, if a sufficient support exists in addition. Headlight awls, which serve only to confirm the existing regime are not democratic.
  • The demos possesses over one decision making/government phase up to the next long-term unity andContinuity. Separating the minorities by secession, autonomy or opting out - procedure is not planned.
  • In the case of national states this sovereign must be: democratic elections are useless, if an authority can outvote the result from the outside.


the people“is no single instance with a free will, but (usually very large) a number of equal individuals, of whom everyone has its own, free will. Task of democratic systems is it thus to organize itself in such a way that with it the single interestsbalanced and the decisions will depend on a emergierenden total will.

Since in practice the state people cannot decide however on each detail of the political cash transaction, all existing democracies organized themselves such that - usually on several levelslike municipality, country, State of etc. to be graduated - parts of the sovereignty in single decisions to selected representatives of the people be transferred. The people gives then in elections „the rough line “, at which the representatives have to orient themselves (and/or. orient in practice,there of it their re-election depends). These representatives are to act as representatives of the voter municipality, by which they were selected and whose interests and goals it in the appropriate committees in the interest of their voters to intersperse to be supposed.

The influence, that the people asSovereign during the term of office of the selected representatives on these keeps, differs in the different democracy forms. In some systems as in Switzerland the people keeps a right of veto in relation to the decisions of the representatives of the people, in other one exists only a Petitionsrecht, again different are limited to the right to vote for the representative government. It gives to get along also the demand after a conversion of radical-democratic systems, those without representatives of the people is or the representation principle to despise (see z. B. Partizipatori democracy). It actsitself around theoretical models, which are not continued to regard in this article.

Different democracy forms

democracy is converted and. A. in the following forms again. Apart from these democracy variants in practice there is a multiplicity of theories, the still further viewsover democracy represented (see democracy theories).

Representative democracy

in the representative democracy the representatives are authorized in the parliament for a limited time to the exercise of power. At expiration of this period must again be decided on the composition of the parliament. This period amounts totoday usually 4 or 5 years.

With the meeting of elections the government authority proceeds to that extent from the people, when this selects the representatives (persons or parties), who make the political decisions for the time of the next electoral period. With the pure elections on the basis of proportional representation rightthe voter can designate a party, which comes its political conceptions next. In the parliament the parties are then for instance represented with the strength, which corresponds to its voice portion. With the pure Mehrheitswahlrecht that applicant draws into the parliament from each constituency,that most voices on itself unites there. Different combinations occur.

In the Stochokratie the representatives of the people are determined not by elections but by lot!

Direct democracy

in the direct democracy is entire power with the Volk.In to thatPractice however never arises this form of the democracy on state level; it is set rather on the plebiszitäre elements, whereby the people is taken part directly only in important decisions by popular vote. In far parts of the 68er and alternative movements (direct democracyor at least more elements of direct democracy were considered to basis democracy as avowed goals) was/is usual instead of direct democracy the term „“.

Combination of representative and direct democracy

the soviet system of government finally represents a combination between direct and representative democracy .

Most modern democracies are partial representative democracies, with directdemocratic elements such as popular votes on national or local level.

Switzerland is on national, kantonaler and local level a plebiszitäre democracy, whereby on national and in most cantons alsoon kantonaler level and in larger cities on local level a parliament legislation is, and the people with parliament decisions only over constitutional amendments and over law changes co-ordinates. Additionally there is the right of the condition initiative for the people still, with thata number of citizens a change of the condition to suggest can, on which mandatorily must be co-ordinated. Besides a popular vote (referendum tuning) can be forced over a law decided by the parliament with sufficient signatures. Some small cantons have the land municipality instead of the parliament. On local level there are no representative government, but decisions, which is discussed and co-ordinated directly in a citizen assembly in smaller places.

Präsidentielle and parliamentary democracy systems

according to the classical principle of the division of power are in democracies the legislation and the governmentto separate. In practice (for example over party memberships) both are not to be seen independent: The parliamentary group, which has the majority within the range of the legislation, places in practice usually also the government. The difference between one rather präsidentielland is appropriate for a rather parliamentary aligned democracy now in the practical effects of the written balance of power between government and legislation.

Präsidentielle oriented developments (example the USA) are characterised by a strong position of the head of the government, the president, in relation to the parliament,in parliamentary systems the parliament governs in practice a piece far also. Practical effects have for example the obligated for agreementness of the parliament with certain decisions (in the USA for example the president can instruct freely a military employment, in which Federal Republic needsthe chancellor for this in all rule a positive vote of the parliament.), or questions of the budgetary law.

With präsidentiell oriented systems one finds frequently a step-by-step selection of the presidents by the people, in order to make the strong powerful position more strongly dependent on the sovereign. Ina parliamentary democracy the government is usually selected by the parliament and can be set off from the parliament, by a vote of no confidence, also again.

Majority democracy, concordance democracy and consent democracy

in majority democracies the government is built up from parties, which have the majority in the parliament. Thusthe government has good chances to through-bring their suggestions at the parliament. With a change of government however the pendulum can run again into the opposite direction.Great Britain and the USA are examples of majority democracies.

In a concordance democracy, public offices become after Proporz or parity distributes. All larger parties and important groups of interests are involved in decision making and the decision are practically always a compromise. The decision-making process needs more time and large changes is hardly possible, on the other hand one conditions are even over longerTime stably and no political decisions are umgestürzt with a change of government. Switzerland is an example of a concordance democracy. The demarcation of concordance and consent democracy is difficult and varied very strong depending upon author. The terms become multiple inthe literature equated, the differences are then also actually marginal. Consent democracies generally show a pronounced power division in the executive, a equal parliamentary system of two Houses, which use of the elections on the basis of proportional representation right and a rigid, only by two-third majority condition which can be changed. Germanyfits very well into this raster and therefore as consent democracy one leads.

Advice democracy

nominal democracies

nowadays will state hardly a state of the world of itself not to be democratic. Usually either the term becomes „democracy “or „republic “in the state name led. Numerous states nevertheless lead the democracy in the name, substantial democratic elements (for example general, free, same and secret elections) are however not carried out. Thus for example the use of the name becomes „German Democratic Republic “one of the two German states between 1949 and 1990 of most humans as applicable does not judge, since the government authority did not proceed in fact from the people. (In the Soviet sphere of influence one spoke of „Volksdemokratie “.) „Nominal democracy “also hitsvorgeblich „democratic “tunings too, with which in diktatorischen systems authority decisions abzunicken by the state people „“are (typically: 99.8% yes-voices - S. also Kleptokratie, Plutokratie, medium democracy and medium manipulation).

According to newer studies are only approx. 75 nations of the world „fastidious democracies “, bear the name thus not only per forma (Hans Vorländer).

Social perspective

apart from the represented definitions to the democracy as method, realized by political institutions, requires the democratic thought also an implementation in the society, thereby thosePrinciples of the democratic system of government also in the reality become experiencable. This view, which wants to expand the democracy principle since if possible everything, thus the term of the democracy literally takes, as Partizipatori democracy is designated.

Only by the entrance to education for allin Europe if the ideal thought is made possible for the democracy by separation of the monarchy, because in a democracy the political will formation runs from bottom to top, thus from the center of the population to the elite one carries. In a dictatorship, as well asin all totalitarian systems, this turned around, here the political will formation by an elite of the population was manipulativ forced upon exactly.

Democracy should not ordered, but when organic process are understood, that in the public takes place and a pluralistische forming of an opinionmade possible and promotes.

Thereby and by the protection of fundamental rights (z, accompanying compellingly with it. B. Freedom of reunion, Pressefreiheit) as well as by the equipments of the political education and the public reporting over social and political events is to come self-dynamics.In this way develop organized groups of interests, which can exert influence on the policy.

In Brazil developed in the surrounding field of the world social forums also forms of the partizipatorischen democracy with the right, directly on the budget use influence to take (so-called. „Participation household “or„Community centre stop “).

Together with these general remarks straight from social perspective „the threat “of the nationalnational democracy must be called by the globalization of the economy and the society. There mostly the executive (government and administration) strongly in the relations with regard to foreign policy competentlyare, the decisions increased by these organs and by the people and the parliament pleases less. For example only the Ministers have a seat in the European Council of Ministers - even -. Of this development are concerned v.a. States, with a fully developeddirect democracy, so e.g. Switzerland. Around this problem against new concepts of the co-operation will step demanded. A passable way e.g. exists. to create therein new resolution forms for the parliaments, with those it the government in precise way of ordersto give can. The say of the people can become secured for example by convention referenda or through - more flexible, modified - people initiatives.

Of Germany way to the democracy

see in addition:


Democratic structures became generally accepted in many states, likewise in some churches, z. B.Presbyteriani churches, Evangelist methodistische church, Swiss regional churches (in Switzerland even catholic ministers are selected by the municipality), however hardly in the economy (exception cooperatives).

In the political science some philosophers speak of the democratic peace under reference on it that democracies in history would have led so far hardly wars against each other, and rate this as particularly positive characteristic of the democratic system. However at least the athenische Ur-democracy can not when example of this thesis are consulted.Immanuel Kant estimated democracies therefore as comparatively peaceful, since their voters would send themselves reluctantly into a war (see. the writing named to the eternal peace of 1795). This is howeverin the peace and conflict research disputed; as safe it is considered that democracies are peaceful in dyadischen relations that in the monadischen system democracy is alone however still no sufficient condition for more peaceful behavior. In addition one must consider that the experience to thisTopic points out clearly that democracies do not lead altogether less war than other states. That means: Democracies lead wars, and that in relation to non--democracy very probably mostly successfully.

The Indian Nobelpreisträger Amartya Sen stresses the welfare-securing control function of the democracy. Without democracy giveit for the dominant ones no incentives for representing the interests of the population of majority. Democracy is thus a protection from poverty and hunger.

The democratic principle has however also borders. Majority decisions can lead for example to a disadvantage of minorities (see also Tocquevilles warning of „the tyranny of the majority “). Besides the partizipatorische democracy theory criticizes that too few joint decision and self implementation possibilities are given in the modern democracy.

Thus the basic principle of the protection of minorities , the part of the important liberty concept of the Pluralismus stands is,as reconciliation against the majority principle. To the protection of minorities Switzerland knows in such a way specified the condition more: Apart from the majority of the voices also the majority of the cantons (conditions) must endorse a constitutional amendment (with law changes simple the people more applies).

Therenever one attacked „genuine “democracy another, sees the American Francis Fukuyama in the world-wide democratization, in connection with the establishment of the free free-market economy, the end of all wars and thus the end of history, which certainlyis most disputed.

Altogether democratic structures are considered as rather slowly and unsuitable to fast adjustment to changing circumstances, particularly since the choice choices are not always made according to objective criteria (see also Demagogie, Polemik). On the other hand democratic structures for stability can and partial predictable conditions ensure, if the society is stable. In addition democracies have a broader authentication basis and can carry for the preferences of the voters calculation. Besides the regular possibility is given to exchange the political point without use of force in a democracy.Beyond that it grants the possibility of the political integration (democracy as participation method, if this is only within limits possible also certainly in a surface state) to the inhabitants.


  • „the condition, which we have (...) are called democracy, because the statenot to few citizens, but is aligned to the majority. “
    (Thukydides, history of the Peloponnesi war, II 37; originally a component of the preamble of the European Union draft constitution)
  • „yardstick of the aristocracy is the virtue, the oily archie the wealth, the democracy the liberty “
    (Aristoteles, politics, 1294a10 FF.)
  • „The government OF the people, by the people, for the people. “ (The government of the people, by the people, for the people.)
    Abraham Lincoln over the nature of the democracy, Gettysburg ADDRESS, 1863
  • „liberality, those indiscriminatelyhumans their right happened leaves, come down to destruction like the will of the majority, which causes bad to the minority and so the democracy Hohn speaks, according to whose principle it acts. “
    (Theodor W. Adorno: Minima Moralia, part of 1, 1944)
  • „Democracy is the worst form OF government - except for all those OTHER form, have been tried from time ton of time that. “ (Democracy is the worst system of government - except all the other forms, those from time toTime tried out are.)
    (vienna clay/tone Churchill in a speech in the House of Commons at the 11. November 1947)
  • „under all the name its that one a little fast in the category of the “political system of government” classified (I do not believe that “democracy”in the long run a political system of government designation), is to criticize themselves the ererbte term of the democracy the only one, which the possibility takes up of placing itself to question and be improved in indefinite way. If it itself thereby still overthe name of a system of government acted, then around that of the only “regime”, which its own perfecting barness places itself, thus his own historicity - and as responsible as possible, I would say, the Aporie of the Unentscheidbarkeit take care of, on their reason withoutReason it decides. “
    Jacques Derrida (2001; in: Philosophy in times of the terror, ISBN 3865723586, S. 161)

See also

Wikiquote: Democracy - quotations


introduction and history
  • Conze, Werner / Koselleck, pure-hard / Maier, Hans / Meier, Christian /Reimann, Hans Leo: Democracy. in: Historical fundamental ideas. Historical encyclopedia to the political-social language in Germany, hrsg. by Otto Brunner/Werner Conze/Reinhart Koselleck, Bd. 1, Stuttgart 1972, S. 821-899. Fundamental explanation of the democracy term ofthe antique ones into the modern trend, including literature data.
  • Konrad H. Kinzl (Hrsg.): Demokratia. The way to the democracy with the Greeks. Scientific book company, Darmstadt 1995, ISBN 3-534-09216-3.
  • Christian Meier: The emergence of the political one with the Greeks, Frankfurt A.M.1980.
  • Karl Mittermaier/my hard Mair: Democracy -- The history of a political idea from Platon to today, scientific book company, Darmstadt 1995, ISBN 3-534-80181-4.
  • Hans Vorländer: Democracy. Beck knowledge, Munich 2003. Knappe introduction to the topic.
Democracy theories inComparison
  • of olive wings/pure hard welfare/Andreas Hetzel: The return of the political one. Democracy theories today, scientific book company Darmstadt 2004, ISBN 3-534-17435-6, read sample
  • Giovanni Sartori : Democracy theory, scientific book company, Darmstadt 1992, ISBN 3-534-11493-0.
  • Manfred G. Schmidt: Democracy theories. An introduction. 3.Aufl., Opladen 2000.Fundamental introduction with extensive literature data; the elbow stretches itself from Aristoteles up to the modern democracy theories. ISBN 3-8252-1887-2
current discussed work
  • Johannes Heinrichs: Revolution of the democracy. A material utopia for the being silent majority. Berlin: Maas, 2003. ISBN 3-929010-92-5
  • Robert D. Putnam, Robert Leonardi, Raffaella Nanetti: Making Democracy Work. Civic tradition in decaying Italy. Princeton: Princeton University press, 1994. ISBN 0-69103738-8

Web on the left of

Wiktionary: Democracy - word origin, synonyms and translations

  > German to English > (Machine translated into English)