Democracy has been criticized for perceived weaknesses that include irrational voters, wealth disparity, political instability, and potential oppression by the majority. The Greek philosophers Socrates and Plato, as well as U.S. President James Madison, voiced complaints about democracy.Continue Reading
Both Socrates and Plato shared similar criticisms of democracy, suggesting that it gives an equal voice to those who do and don't deserve to be heard. Socrates went even further, implying that the very nature of democracy makes the system corrupt. Irrational voters, those who are uninformed about political and economic issues, can poorly interpret information presented to them and thus make ignorant decisions when they vote.
Socrates also argued that a majority would inevitably do a poorer job of governing than a few capable people with the necessary knowledge. This situation would result in government policies being influenced by non-experts, compromising their effectiveness. Plato favored a form of aristocracy called "Kallipolis" that would be led by philosopher-kings, wise men who governed unwillingly.
U.S. President James Madison suggested that republics were superior to democracies, as they safeguarded against the tyranny of the majority. In the Federalist Papers, he attests that democracies aren't compatible with protecting property rights or personal security. Madison goes on to say that they are generally short-lived and end violently.Learn more about Types of Government
In a democracy, the rights of the majority can overwhelm the rights of the minority, whereas in a republic, a constitution or charter protects its citizens with laws that cannot be changed by a simple majority vote.Full Answer >
A presidential system of democracy is based on the separation of powers between three branches of government: judicial, legislative and executive. The United States originated the use of a presidential system, and only a few other democracies follow the format.Full Answer >
Taiwan's government is a multiparty democracy that consists of five government branches: the Legislative Yuan, the Executive Yuan, the Judicial Yuan, the Examination Yuan and the Control Yuan. The president and members of the Legislative Yuan are elected by popular vote. The Legislative Yuan is a unicameral sect with only one house.Full Answer >
A limited democracy is a system of government in which power is only partially in the hands of the general populace. The level of power is identified within a constitution.Full Answer >