What Are Disadvantages of Representative Democracy?

CongressLink provides the key disadvantages of representative democracy as negative public opinion of the character and intentions of politicians combined with overwhelming cynicism that elected officials represent the true interests of people. Causes of this negative perception are low tolerance of the processes necessary to make the system work (debate, compromise, advocacy and stalemate), the observation that special interest groups have greater representation and the media overemphasis of negative government events.

Princeton defines a representative democracy as a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people. The accuracy of representation is a distinct problem, as there are many different viewpoints and opinions within a specific constituency group; therefore, elected officials have a difficult time determining the single important majority interest to vote appropriately. CongressLink cites that significant, positive changes have taken place through elected representation; however, the overall performance of representative democracy has been significantly limited by public apathy, resulting from frustration over the system processes, in addition to dwindling recruitment of public officials afraid to risk personal character damage. Various campaigns and publications have been established in an attempt to mend the public distrust of representation, including “The Case for Representative Democracy: What Americans Should Know About Their Legislatures,” written by NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) and “Representative Democracy and Capacity Development for Responsible Politics,” written by IDEA (Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance).