11 Important Pros and Cons of Representative Democracy

Democracy is the form of government most widely used by many nations. It is a preferred type of government because it gives the citizens a voice in important decisions that could affect them one way or the other.

There are several types of democracy. One of which is representative democracy. It is the style of democracy founded on the principle of citizens allowing other people, like elected officials, to represent them in government dealings. This is being practiced by the US, Great Britain, and India, to name a few. The people are not directly involved in any of legislative or lawmaking process. This form of democracy is practiced in nations where the number of citizens is so high that direct representation would probably be too complicated or would go wrong. It is found at the federal level of the US government. The whole concept of representative democracy depends on the people’s ability to express their wishes to their representatives.

Generally, representatives serve in a chamber, like a parliament, House of Representatives, senate or similar governing body. Unlike in direct democracy wherein people draft bills themselves, debate and vote to pass them into law, citizens elect people to handle those responsibilities on their behalf in a representative democracy. To some, this might seem as though it could separate the people and the laws of the land. But in reality, the intention of this form of government is to educate and train representatives to better understand the complexity of their jurisdiction. This type of government has its fair share of proponents and opponents. Here are the lists of pros and cons of representative democracy.

List of Pros of Representative Democracy

1. It is efficient.
The efficient use of an executive legislative body is the most important advantage that this form of democracy can offer. This legislative body is generally controlled by the laws as well as the constitution and is responsible for drafting and implementing high priority policies, laws and decisions.

In direct democracy, citizens are free to participate in making national decisions by voting. However, this can be hard to manage for countries with considerable amounts of populations. The logistics of pulling this off in a country as big as the US and the UK can be too much of a hassle.

2. It can come up with a well-balanced decision.
The legislative body is comprised of people voted by the electorate and given the capability to make proportionate decisions. This is especially useful during emergencies.

3. It lets the people elect their officials.
The citizens have the power to elect whom they want to assume office. They have to discern who the best person is to represent them and defend the beliefs and opinions they hold so dear. This also means that the people should vote for those who possess the education and training.

4. It ensures better citizen representation.
In this form of government, the people elect their legislatures who will in turn represent them and place the views of their constituent to the parliament. Through this, the citizens are able to voice out their wishes and opinions. So, when there is something that they find unfavorable or is not implemented properly, they can make a stand and let their representatives act on it.

5. It makes it easier for the government to address problems.
An elected legislative body would need to be well aware of those around them. That way, problems can be immediately addressed, meeting the needs of the people with utmost urgency.

6. It encourages participation.
By knowing that they have a voice in the government, people will be more inclined to seek education and be up to date with the issues happening around the country and the rest of the world. This is why there is an increase in the number of voters showing up at polls.

List of Cons of Representative Democracy

1. It is misplaced trust.
Opponents of this concept argue that when the election process is over, the citizens’ voice in the government is also done. They will just need to put their faith and trust on their elected representative. They will just have to wait and see until their representative does the things they promised they would do. Although there are still politicians who genuinely care representing the people, there are those with hidden agendas that favor them or a chosen few.

2. It allows representatives to end up not serving their jurisdiction well.
There are times when the majority does not become the favorable vote. This means that the representative elected by the people might have opposing opinions from those they serve. There are even cases when the legislature seems to serve their own personal needs, not the people’s. In some cases, wealthy representatives may not be able to serve their jurisdiction well because it is mostly low income. Wealthy politicians won’t be able to relate to this and therefore represent the people effectively.

3. It can encourage representatives to be deceptive.
As soon as the official is elected into office, he may not deliver on his promise of a better future for his constituents. Instead, he might work towards his vested interest and for his own personal gains.

4. It is for the majority.
The problem with this kind of democracy is that it is solely focused on the majority, while the minority groups are left on their own to solve significant issues. This causes separation in the state as people feel that their issues are being brushed under the rug while the majority is favored at all times.

5. It does not hold the elected official accountable.
Once the representatives are elected, they will do whatever they please. When things go wrong, there are no repercussions for those politicians. The only option citizens have against those kinds of officials is by not voting for them on the next election.

When you know the pros and cons of a particular concept or subject, you are able to make an informed decision. This allows you to fully understand your role in society.

Author Bio
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.