Politics in Minutes (2016)

Representation

Direct democracy, such as the government of classical Athens, is based on the idea that the people can all play an active part in the political process, each having an equal say in determining the rules governing their society. But while it is possible to call regular meetings of all citizens to decide matters in small communities, it is not a practicable system for governing a city, let alone a nation.

To overcome this problem, groups of citizens were given the right to elect someone to represent their views and act on their behalf, in meetings with representatives of other groups. From these meetings of representatives developed a more complex system of representative democracy, in which local areas elect representatives to regional assemblies and to national parliaments. The idea of direct democracy has not been completely superseded, however. On some issues of particular importance, the public is consulted as a whole and all eligible voters are asked for their opinion in a referendum.

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