14 Pros and Cons of Representative Democracy 2024

Representative democracy is a government system whereby the people elect officials or politicians to represent their interests in policy and law-making. The elected officials then vote on laws, policies, and other government projects on behalf of the people. The general population doesn’t have to vote on every issue as it is in direct democracy. Nearly 70% of the world’s states employ a state based on representative democracy, including the United Kingdom (a Constitutional monarchy), the U.S. (a democratic state), and France as a unitary country. A representative form of government is also known as indirect democracy, and this form of government has an equal share of opponents and proponents. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of representative democracy.

Pros of Representative Democracy

1. It is an Efficient Form of Government.

The maximization use of an executive law-making body is the crucial advantage that representative democracy can offer. This law-making body is generally controlled by the laws and governed by the state constitution. The body is responsible for implementing and drafting high-priority laws, decisions, and policies. On the other hand, indirect democracy, people are free and entitled to participate/ contribute to making national policies through voting. But this can be challenging to manage for states with many people. The logistics and platform of pulling this off in any state as big as the United Kingdom and the United States of America can be an aggravation. The situation is easily controlled if people vote for a representative they trust will represent their law-making ideas. The elected representative will then draft policies that violate the country’s constitution and benefit a few individuals. In simple terms, anything the elected person drafted is considered the voice of the people who voted for them instead of voting for each law.

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2. Easy Decision Making.

Individuals elected by the electorate and given the ability/capability to draft or proportionate decisions and policies comprise the law-making body. When getting people to vote on the next step can be difficult during an emergency, this is the best way to enact laws and regulations. It is also a wise form of government that expedites decision-making because 50 people can quickly become more conscious than 100 million people. And the quicker decisions are made, the better government projects are carried out to benefit its citizens. This form of government ensures that the government receives immediate feedback from all elected officials on significant investments or projects that benefit the people, in comparison with a direct form of governance whereby people have to read the whole document and prepare for a voting day and voting counting process before making simple policies into practice and delaying the project execution and other benefits, thus giving people time to enjoy simple benefits that they would have done simply in one day.

Pros and Cons of Representative Democracy

3. Gives People the ability to Elect their Representatives.

People/citizens have the right to choose who will hold office. They can also determine the best candidate to represent their interests and defend their strong opinions and beliefs. This setting implies that people should select/vote for those who have the necessary qualities to represent everyone’s interests. While maintaining consistency in education and training experiences, this form of governance allows people or each state to feel like they are part of a team making government laws. The goal is to ensure that everyone is fairly represented in any legislative process. The best way to ensure that everyone is represented is to have someone chosen by a citizen represent each group. Making citizens part of the leading team improves law-making and speeds up choices. As long as one is eligible to vote, each vote counts on the laws and regulations the elected person will pass or draft as economic, infrastructure, and social amenities. As a citizen being part of this solution makes everyone happy and part of the country.

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4. Equal Citizen Representation.

Citizens eligible to vote elect their representatives to represent them and present their views and opinions to the parliament in this form of governance. People can express their thoughts and desires through this approach through their elected representatives. And, if they believe or believe that some of their ideologies and views are not being adequately addressed, they can air their grievances, and their legislatures can take appropriate action. Citizens with this ability act as watchdogs, allowing their representatives to act on their views and policies. Engaging people in any government arm makes it easier for the federal government to allocate resources fairly because they represent the interests of each group. Unlike any other form of governance, representative democracy allocates the people’s role in law-making to a specific group of people. But the elected group doesn’t make their policies; they table what people want and believe. And by doing this, the country can summarize the whole document by assessing each state’s interests and needs in the country-building motive.

5. Summarize the Government’s Problem-Solving Platforms.

Because the elected person is expected to have opinions and interests, the government can identify what is suitable for a specific state or group of people with equal representation by the elected legislative body. The government will work on whatever the elected official has tabled or presented to them. It is also assumed that what legislators have is what the people require. It is much easier for the federal government to implement 100 suggestions rather than 100 million suggestions from various citizens. Voting in people to represent each state makes it easy for the government to allocate the required resources to meet their needs and daily wants, unlike other forms of governance that will require the government to hear every citizen’s views before concluding on what people need. This also reduces the congestion of ideas and opinions and makes it easy for the government or relevant body to allocate what is good for each state’s country and the people. As they say, it is all about decisions that lead a country’s ability to grow.

6. Encourages the People’s participation.

With the idea that everyone has a voice/representative in the federal government, citizens will be more inclined to find ideas and be updated with what is happening in the country and the world government powers. According to the national governance, there is an increased number of people voting anytime there is an election, which means people feel valued when engaged or their decisions are part of the government. Though there are situations where the opposition feels left out since the one elected has none of their views, this form of governance best engages citizens in the country’s progress and other motives. In a survey conducted by the general election in the house of congress, 80% of the eligible voters who showed up suggested that they are happy to elect someone they like and someone who understands their policies—making this the best way to allow people to express their ideologies through people who they trust and believe as part of their lives. While holding the opposition part constant, it is evident that the person who won the election has the Majority’s opinions in each state.

7. Quick Allocation of Resources.

Representing representatives in the government, each with a unique need for people in different states, expedites and simplifies government program allocation. Any suggestion made by an elected official has considered what the people require. The process can be summarized as what representatives have in mind for their constituents regarding government infrastructure, social amenities, and other allocations. Despite the opposition’s point of view, the winning team’s ideas represent a larger picture for the people. They can be a good choice if acted upon because they affect a more significant number of people.

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Cons of Representative Democracy

1. It’s a Misplaced Trust.

Opponents of this way of government argue that when the election or choosing process is completed/over, the people’s voice in the state government is also over. People will just put their trust and faith in their elected legislatures. Eliminating them from accessing the law-making body is not guaranteed that the person elected will deliver the same. In countries with high corruption rates, this form of government has failed terribly as politicians or elected persons tend to forget all they promised. Although there is a genuinely dedicated representative representing the citizens, many others have hidden agendas/policies that will favor them or a particular group of people. This can only be trusted in countries with high democratic integrity. Still, for many developing countries, this form of governance allows few people to make choices, not the Majority of the voters.

Pros and Cons of Representative Democracy

2. Limit Representatives from serving their Jurisdiction.

There are situations when the Majority does not have a favorable opinion, and better choices are not based entirely on what many people think. Sometimes it requires some serious research, and few people can do that, and picking someone because people think the opinion is reasonable can be dangerous. This implies that the legislature elected by the citizen might have opposing views from some who don’t like the options. This might force the elected person to serve their personal needs or opinion, not the citizens. In some cases, wealthy representatives may not/ will not serve their role well because it is primarily a low-income venture. And failing to relate to the situation may misrepresent the people’s ideas and beliefs. Some ideas might also be forgotten since the elected person has to find a way to treat each opinion well. And since people cannot reach or air their ideas or reach the government that trusts all of the elected person’s options. The resource allocation will depend entirely on the person’s thoughts or what they think is the best while forgetting some crucial aspects and opinions. Besides, the election involves two or more contestants; only one person will win and act as the representative for all. Some of the opposing views will not be heard, and it doesn’t mean they are unsuitable for the people.

3. Deceptive Motives.

When the representative is elected into office, they may not deliver their promise to the people. Instead, they might work towards their vested and personal interest for personal gains. This has been a significant problem and disadvantage of representative democracy as it allows one person to table and present ideas on behalf of the people. In countries where democracy is not strong enough, politicians use this chance to deliver personal opinions that will benefit them and a few wealthy cartels. A politician can lie that they are the best and even copy all the people’s ideas and then claim they for the views, but deep down in the story, they have their ideas about the whole platform. The government can consider the elected team’s ideas to be people’s ideas; then, the team cannot appeal to or change the situation. And in most cases, the representative’s views are considered peoples’ thoughts, and nothing the federal government can do but allocate resources to ideas with different motives.

4. Focus on the Majority.

One problem with this form of governance is that it focuses on the majority opinions and views, while the minority parties are left out of the implementation programs. This causes political separation in the country as people/citizens feel their ideas are being brushed under other people’s rug while the Majority is always favored. The minority might have good ideas, but their arguments are always forgotten because of the voting process numbers, making them adjust to new ideologies from the winning team. In a direct democracy, each citizen’s views are responded to, and the law-making body always finds a way to accommodate each opinion.

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5. The System Doesn’t Hold the Elected Representative Accountable.

Once the election is offered and someone is elected for a particular seat, they can do whatever they like. The federal government has no right to involve people in the law-making process; they only depend on what people are elected. No constitutional ties attach to the elected representatives’ repercussions when things go wrong or turn upside down. People have against this kind of politician by voting them out in the following voting process.

6. Not always Reliable in Making Important Decisions.

The votes of the elected legislatures in representative democracy may not reflect the will of the citizens. The representatives are not tired of the law choosing how people choose them to wish to vote. Unless otherwise or limits apply to the representative question, the only choice to terminate constituents is to file a case in the law court. This depends on the independence of the court of law. It is also considered an inefficient way of governance as individuals elected might draft laws with massive bureaucracies, which take a long time for executions.

7. Invites Corruption.

It is not a direct guarantee that the elected person has the motive to deliver what they promised. Many politicians might tend to misrepresent their people on economic, infrastructure, and social amenities delivery by tabling policies that will benefit certain people to achieve new political power or wealth. While in the legislative office, the elected representative may act in service of financial gain rather than the people’s ideas and social needs or anything else.

Conclusion

On a whim, representative democracy should produce a government system formed “by the citizens, for the citizens.” However, each citizen’s success in doing or performance will be determined by the citizen’s freedom to express their sincere wishes to their politicians and the elected people’s willingness to act accordingly. The system also allows people to contribute to the government’s solutions; however, this does not imply that the Majority’s every decision is the best for the economy. As a result, it is prudent for the government to devise a strategy to address opposing viewpoints and ideas. It’s a contest, and the Majority wins. The other side has some good ideas; what they lack is numbers. If any government can find a way to listen to and address those ideas, democracy representative is the best government system ever devised. Understanding both sides of the system will allow you to make an informed decision whenever you need to address concerns or opinions about any form of government. The guide has covered some of the essential benefits and drawbacks of representative democracy.

Sources

Urbinati N. Representative democracy: principles and genealogy. University of Chicago Press; 2006.

Vestbro DU. Citizen participation or representative democracy? The case of Stockholm, Sweden. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research. 2012 Apr 1:5-17.

Budge I. Direct and representative democracy: Are they necessarily opposed? Representation. 2006 Apr 1;42(1):1-2.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_democracy

Pros and Cons of Representative Democracy

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