Q:

What are the strengths and weaknesses of democracy?

A:

Direct democracy allows open and direct debate on issues, quick decision-making, tolerance for alternate viewpoints and a general sense that everyone gets a fair say. However, it is prone to mob rule, limited in scope to smaller communities, hasty and usually excludes certain classes from full participation.

The sometimes severe restrictions of direct democracy have led to the development of representational democracy, in which specialists are chosen by the community to represent the votes of the people. While this form of democracy also has severe drawbacks (like the potential for corruption and decreased access to governance by the population), its efficiency, effectiveness and less-volatile nature make it a preferable system for larger communities. It is not unusual, however, for small local governments to function effectively using direct democracy while following national systems of representational democracy, as with the New England town meeting system in the United States.


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