Gouvernement oů le peuple exerce la souveraineté par l'intermédiaire d'élus.
ETYM French démocratie, from Greek demokratia; demos the people + kratein to be strong, to rule, kratos strength.
1. A political system governed by the people or their representatives; SYN. republic, commonwealth.
2. The political orientation of those who favor government by the people of by their elected representatives.
Government by the people, usually through elected representatives. In the modern world, democracy has developed from the American and French revolutions.
Representative parliamentary government existed in Iceland from the 10th century and in England from the 13th century, but the British working classes were excluded almost entirely from the vote until 1867, and women were admitted and property qualifications abolished only 1918.
In direct democracy the whole people meets for the making of laws or the direction of executive officers; for example, in Athens in the 5th century BC. Direct democracy today is represented mainly by the use of the referendum, as in the UK, France, Switzerland, and certain states of the US.
The two concepts underlying liberal democracy are the right to representative government and the right to individual freedom. In practice the features of a liberal democratic system include representative institutions based on majority rule, through free elections and a choice of political parties; accountability of the government to the electorate; freedom of expression, assembly, and the individual, guaranteed by an independent judiciary; and limitations on the power of government.
A political system can properly be called democratic only if the government in power can be peacefully removed by a majority decision of the people, through fair and open elections. There are few nation states today that do not claim to be democratic, but not all would qualify on the basis of this criterion.