Democracy has many characteristics which include majority rule, individual rights, free and fair elections, tolerance, participation and compromise. A democracy is based on the idea of the people having a say in who governs and rules them, making participation one of the most important characteristics in the system.
Most democratic governments operate through representative democracy, which means that a representative is elected to be the voice of the people in the government. This does not mean that every action the occurs falls under the representative heading. Some of the actions taken by representatives are considered direct democracy.
The representative or governing body may put forth a mandate or referendum on a law, which can stem from town hall meetings held by representatives in the area they represent or groups from the area requesting the changes. This can also apply to a nominee calling for votes to be recounted in an election. These are all direct actions that do not go to be voted on by the people, although they can be requests or suggestions from them.
Another important characteristic of a democracy is majority rule and minority right. When decisions are made based on the majority of the populations wishes, this could easily lead to the oppression of those who did not agree or vote alone with the majority. Minority rights keeps this from happening by taking into account an individual's rights and needs along with the majority rule.