A very popular and historically successful form of government, democracy puts power in its people’s hands—well, kind of. The way this political system works is through the citizens voting in elections to decide who would be worthy to represent them in the different areas of the government. The elected officials would then make important decisions on the people’s behalf.
Democracy creates various branches of power within the government, which then creates a checks-and-balances system with individual sectors monitoring the others. Some of the most successful nations around the world employ a democratic system.
However, democracy does not come without its own set of flaws. Let us take a deep look into its pros and cons.
List of Pros of Democracy
1. It is by the people and for the people.
In a democratic form of government, everyone will be allowed to vote and participate in weighing in on what they think about the country’s political, social and economic issues, making sure that whatever decision is made, it will be in their interest and not just of the government leaders. The public would actually hold power and has opinions that matter. This sense of participation would allow the feelings of pride and patriotism that are not often seen in counties with a different political system.
2. It promotes a sense of involvement.
When people have the power to vote and support certain decisions and laws, they would feel like an active part in society. This means they would feel being needed for the society to thrive. Giving power to the people and letting them get involved is definitely something that will have a considerable impact on the country as a whole.
3. It imposes equality.
The vote every person has would carry the same weight, making a democratic form of government built on equality. Not only in democracy, but this reigns true in all forms of political elections, making all individuals feeling heard and important.
4. It allows for reasonable policy changes.
According to proponents, this is probably the biggest pro of democracy. Considering the people’s power, they are also important to making changes to the system when they feel it is necessary, which are then agreed with the elected officials willingly.
These changes can come without violence, where power is transferred from one party to another through election, which means the government is only bound in power by terms that are separated into yearly increments. Change would be constant, and the ruling party must work for the citizens, or they would not be voted back into power. The authority given by the people would allow for a political system that does not take advantage of the given power.
5. It does not put power into a single individual.
In democracy, power is spread out, and no individual holds all of the power—even the majority of it. This helps prevent exploitation of the people and corruption.
6. It provides obligation to citizens.Democracy enables the feeling of obligation to the public in motivating the ruling power. Consequently, government officials will have a duty and obligation to the citizens who voted them into position, which means they owe their success to the citizens, so they should be indebted to them in a certain degree. Such motivation can help these officials work towards policies and goals they were elected to impose.
List of Cons of Democracy
1. It risks lack of knowledge among the people.
Due to the fact that the people have the power to elect officials into office, they would be often not informed on political issues in a way that they should be, which means that many of them with voting power are not as knowledgeable about relevant issues as necessary. This is not always ideal, as common masses without the understanding of societal issues would make the wrong choices during elections.
2. It might cause the minority to get the short end.
Since a democratic form of government is set up to cater to the majority, the minority would be often overlooked and even exploited. A lot of policies and laws that favor the majority are mostly hurtful to the minority, causing a large gap between the 2 groups.
3. It would allow mob influence.
One big downside to democracy is the possibility that mobs will still have influence. Though the public is the one doing the voting, mobs can still influence the voters’ decisions. People would be influenced by others, and sometimes, political officials would even make claims to simply win their votes, instead of working for the people. The elections will then be the spotlight, rather than the policies that need to be changed.
4. It might experience election fraud.
Democracy will face difficulties in functioning efficiently, especially when there is a larger to take care of. Elections and vote tallying would become a seemingly impossible task, leading to some form of corruption, such as voter fraud.
5. It may have difficulties to avoid shortfalls.
Every political system does not come without flaws, which means that democracy is not a perfect system, especially that there are different people having different views, making matters complicated. Since government positions are based on short terms, the political system might also be short-term focused and would not be working for the growth of society long-term.
6. It is prone to the “free time rules” system.
In democracy, people who have the most amount of free time would get to attend meetings frequently, influencing the government decisions that would be made. On the other hand, people with full and busy schedules would have no time to attend these meetings and could not have the same pull.
Giving any form of government a label can be difficult, and for democracy, it is quite complex, where deciding whether it is good or bad would depend on so many factors. It is a tried and true government system that has actually produced great economical and social success, but there is no solid proof that all democratic countries have out-succeeded others. The best way to reach a reasonable conclusion is to weigh its pros and cons, as well as take a look at such a political system from both sides. We can also compare it to other forms of government to give it a full evaluation.
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.