The United States practices representative democracy. In this democratic system, citizens vote democratically for representatives who meet to pass laws at the state and federal level.
Representative democracy contrasts with direct democracy, a system in which the citizens vote on the laws by which they are governed. The ancient Athenians practiced direct democracy. Though there are certain aspects of direct democracy in the U.S. system, such as the ballot initiative and the referendum, most laws in America are made by elected bodies of representatives. All modern Western-style democracies are representative democracies, though each system has variations. For example, the United Kingdom has a constitutional monarchy, while Germany is a parliamentary republic.