Democracy, in modern usage, is a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body, such as a parliament.

In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative, elected body of government.

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Democracy is sometimes referred to as "rule of the majority".

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Western democracy, as distinct from that that existed in pre-civilized societies, is generally considered to have originated in city states such as Classical Athens and the Roman Republic, where various schemes and degrees of enfranchisement of the free male population were observed before the form disappeared in the West at the beginning of late antiquity.

The city of Athens during the classical period of Ancient Greece was the major urban center of the notable polis of the same name, located in Attica, Greece, leading the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and the Peloponnesian League.

A republic is a form of government in which the country is considered a "public matter" – not the private concern or property of the rulers – and where offices of state are elected or appointed, rather than inherited.

The Roman Republic was the era of ancient Roman civilization beginning with the overthrow of the Roman Kingdom, traditionally dated to 509 BC, and ending in 27 BC with the establishment of the Roman Empire.


The English word dates to the 16th century, from the older Middle French and Middle Latin equivalents.

Medieval Latin was the form of Latin used in the Middle Ages, primarily as a medium of scholarly exchange, as the liturgical language of Chalcedonian Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church, and as a language of science, literature, law, and administration.

Middle French is a historical division of the French language that covers the period from the 14th to the early 17th centuries.


According to political scientist Larry Diamond, democracy consists of four key elements: A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections; The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life; Protection of the human rights of all citizens, and A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.

Human rights are moral principles or norms, which describe certain standards of human behaviour, and are regularly protected as legal rights in municipal and international law.

The rule of law is the legal principle that law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by arbitrary decisions of individual government officials.

An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office.


In the 5th century BC, to denote the political systems then existing in Greek city-states, notably Athens, the term is an antonym to aristocracy, meaning "rule of an elite".

Aristocracy is a form of government that places power in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class.

Polis, plural poleis, literally means city in Greek.


While theoretically these definitions are in opposition, in practice the distinction has been blurred historically.


The political system of Classical Athens, for example, granted democratic citizenship to free men and excluded slaves and women from political participation.


In 1906, Finland became the first government to harald a more inclusive democracy at the national level.


In virtually all democratic governments throughout ancient and modern history, democratic citizenship consisted of an elite class until full enfranchisement was won for all adult citizens in most modern democracies through the suffrage movements of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise is the right to vote in public, political elections.


Democracy contrasts with forms of government where power is either held by an individual, as in an absolute monarchy, or where power is held by a small number of individuals, as in an oligarchy.

Absolute monarchy, or despotic monarchy, is a form of monarchy in which one ruler has supreme authority and where that authority is not restricted by any written laws, legislature, or customs.


Nevertheless, these oppositions, inherited from Greek philosophy, are now ambiguous because contemporary governments have mixed democratic, oligarchic, and monarchic elements.


Karl Popper defined democracy in contrast to dictatorship or tyranny, thus focusing on opportunities for the people to control their leaders and to oust them without the need for a revolution.

Dictatorship is a form of government where a group of countries is ruled by one person or political entity, and exercised through various mechanisms to ensure that the entity's power remains strong.

A tyrant, in the modern English usage of the word, is an absolute ruler unrestrained by law or person, or one who has usurped legitimate sovereignty.

Sir Karl Raimund Popper was an Austrian-British philosopher and professor.

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