Representative democracy is a governmental structure based upon citizens electing representatives to serve on their behalf. Representative democracy contrasts with direct democracy, in which citizens directly manage the affairs of the government.
Elected officials in a representative democracy do not merely serve as proxies for citizens. They are not obliged to poll citizens to ascertain the majority position on any particular issue. Rather, the elected representatives inherently are vested with the authority to make decisions that they believe represent the best interests of the people, even if a majority of the citizenry objects to a particular initiative or course of action.