Examples of representative democracies include the United States government, the government of the United Kingdom and most of the other governing bodies in the world. In essence, a representative democracy is a form of leadership in which the populace elects a number of representatives who serve the function of acting in their interests.
For instance, representatives may make laws and policies on behalf of the people and also act as a check against overreach of the other arms of government. This form of democracy is popular because it makes it much easier to govern.
The alternative to representative democracy is a direct democracy in which the populace itself decides on the policies that they need to implement. Though this is a more direct way of enabling democracy, one major shortfall of direct democracy is that, because the opinions of most of the populace are needed, it becomes very cumbersome to make decisions. For this reason, direct democracy is only practical in states in which the population is low, making it easier for the citizenry to meet and discuss policy matters. Some of the common features of a representative democracy include the presence of an independent judiciary, as well as election of officials through free and fair elections.