Criticism of democracy

Criticism of democracy is grounded in democracy's purpose, process, and outcomes. Since Classical antiquity and through the modern era, democracy has been associated with "rule of the people," "rule of the majority," and free selection or election either through direct participation or elected representation respectively, but has not been linked to a particular outcome.[1]

Political thinkers approach their critique of democracy from different perspectives. Many do not necessarily oppose democracy—"rule of the people"—but, rather, seek to expand or question its popular definition. In their work, they distinguish between democratic principles that are effectively implemented through undemocratic procedures; undemocratic principles that are implemented through democratic procedures; and variations of the same kind.

For instance, some critics of democracy would agree with Winston Churchill's famous remark, "No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."[2] While others, may be more prepared to describe existing democratic regimes as anything but "rule of the people."

Critics of democracy have tried to highlight democracy's inconsistencies, paradoxes, and limits by contrasting it with other forms of governments. They have characterized most modern democracies as democratic polyarchies[3] and democratic aristocracies;[4] they have identified fascist moments in modern democracies; they have termed the societies produced by modern democracies as neo-feudal;[5] while, yet others, have contrasted democracy with Nazism, anarcho-capitalism, theocracy, and absolute monarchy.

The most widely known critics of democracy include Plato and the authors of the Federalist Papers, who were interested in establishing a representative democracy in America instead of a direct democracy.

Additional historical figures associated with the critique of democracy thought include Aristotle, Montesquieu, James Harrington, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Martin Heidegger, Hubert Lagardelle, Charles Maurras, Friedrich Nietzsche, Carl Schmitt, Oswald Spengler, Nicolás Gómez Dávila, and Elazar Menachem Shach.

Leading contemporary thinkers in critical democratic theory include Jürgen Habermas, Robert A. Dahl, Robert E. Goodin, Bernard Manin, Joseph Schumpeter, James S. Fishkin, Ian Shapiro, Jason Brennan, Hélène Landemore and Hans-Hermann Hoppe.

Criticism of democracy's purpose

Benefits of a specialized society

One such argument is that the benefits of a specialized society may be compromised by democracy. As ordinary citizens are encouraged to take part in the political life of the country, they have the power to directly influence the outcome of government policies through the democratic procedures of voting, campaigning and the use of press. The result is that government policies may be more influenced by non-specialist opinions and thereby the effectiveness compromised, especially if a policy is very technically sophisticated and/or the general public inadequately informed. For example, there is no guarantee that those who campaign about the government's economic policies are themselves professional economists or academically competent in this particular discipline, regardless of whether they were well-educated. Essentially this means that a democratic government may not be providing the most good for the largest number of people. However, some have argued that this should not even be the goal of democracies because the minority could be seriously mistreated under that purported goal.[6]

Rule of the aristocratic


Friedrich Nietzsche, as an opponent of Christianity, saw western democracy as connected to it, claiming that "the democratic movement is Christianity's heir" and denounced the democratic man for being inherently unable to "feel any shame for being unable to rise above" his desire "to satisfy a host of petty wants through the calculation of long-term self-interest".[7] Nietzsche claimed that in a democracy "[w]hen the individual's highest and strongest instincts break forth with a passion, driving him far and above the average, beyond the lowlands of the herd conscience", "the moral perspective now considers how harmful or harmless an opinion, an emotional state, a will, a talent is to the community, to equality". "Exalted, self-directed spirituality, a will to solitude, even great powers of reason are felt as a danger". "Morality in Europe today is herd animal morality".[8]


The real difference between ancient democracies and modern republics lies, according to Madison, in "the total exclusion of the people in their collective capacity from any share in the latter, and not in the total exclusion of the representatives of the people from the administration of the former.

— Bernard Manin, p. 2 (See: Madison, "Federalist 63," in The Federalist Papers, p. 387; Madison's emphasis.)[4]

Bernard Manin is interested in distinguishing modern representative republics, such as the United States, from ancient direct democracies, such as Athens.[4] Manin believes that both aspire to "rule of the people," but that the nature of modern representative republics lends them to "rule of the aristocratic." Manin explains that in ancient democracies, virtually every citizen had the chance to be selected to populate the government but in modern republics, only elites have the chance of being elected. He does not defend this phenomenon but rather seeks to describe it.

Manin draws from James Harrington, Montesquieu, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau to suggest that the dominant form of government, representative as opposed to direct, is effectively aristocratic.[4] He proposes that modern representative governments exercise political power through aristocratic elections which, in turn, brings into question democracy's "rule of the people" principle. As far as Montesquieu is concerned, elections favor the "best" citizens who Manin notes tend to be wealthy and upper-class. As far as Rousseau is concerned, elections favor the incumbent government officials or the citizens with the strongest personalities, which results in hereditary aristocracy. Manin further evinces the aristocratic nature of representative governments by contrasting them with the ancient style of selection by lot. Manin notes that Montesquieu believed that lotteries prevent jealousy and distribute offices equally (among citizens from different ranks), while Rousseau believed that lotteries choose indifferently, preventing self-interest and partiality from polluting the citizen's choice (and thus prevent hereditary aristocracy).

However, Manin also provides criticism of direct democracy, or selection by lot.[4] Manin reflects on Montesquieu's interrogation of the extent to which Athenian direct democracy was truly direct. Montesquieu finds that citizens who had reason to believe they would be accused as "unworthy of selection" commonly withheld their names from the lottery, thereby making selection by lot vulnerable to self-selection bias and, thus, aristocratic in nature. Manin does not dwell on direct democracy's potentially aristocratic elements, perhaps because he share's Montesquieu's belief that there is nothing alarming about the exclusion of citizens who may be incompetent; this exclusion may be inevitable in any method of selection.

Additionally, Manin is interested in explaining the discrepancy between 18th century American and French revolutionaries' declaration of the "equality of all citizens" and their enactment of (aristocratic) elections in their respective democratic experiments.[4] Manin suggests that the discrepancy is explained by the revolutionaries' contemporary preoccupation with one form of equality over another. The revolutionaries prioritized gaining the equal right to consent to their choice of government (even a potentially aristocratic democracy), at the expense of seeking the equal right to be face of that democracy. And it is elections, not lots, that provide citizens with more opportunities to consent. In elections, citizens consent both to the procedure of elections and to the product of the elections (even if they produce the election of elites). In lotteries, citizens consent only to the procedure of lots, but not to the product of the lots (even if they produce election of the average person). That is, if the revolutionaries prioritized consent to be governed over equal opportunity to serve as the government, then their choice of elections over lotteries makes sense.


A major scholarly attack on the basis of democracy was made by German-Italian political scientist Robert Michels who developed the mainstream political science theory of the iron law of oligarchy in 1911.[9] Michels argued that oligarchy is inevitable as an "iron law" within any organization as part of the "tactical and technical necessities" of organization and on the topic of democracy, Michels stated: "It is organization which gives birth to the dominion of the elected over the electors, of the mandataries over the mandators, of the delegates over the delegators. Who says organization, says oligarchy" and went on to state "Historical evolution mocks all the prophylactic measures that have been adopted for the prevention of oligarchy."[9] Michels stated that the official goal of democracy of eliminating elite rule was impossible, that democracy is a façade legitimizing the rule of a particular elite, and that elite rule, that he refers to as oligarchy, is inevitable.[9] Michels had formerly been a Marxist but became drawn to the syndicalism of Sorel, Eduoard Berth, Arturo Labriola, and Enrico Leone and had become strongly opposed parliamentarian, legalistic, and bureaucratic socialism of social democracy and in contrast supported an activist, voluntarist, anti-parliamentarian socialism.[10] Michels would later become a supporter of fascism upon Mussolini's rise to power in 1922, viewing fascism's goal to destroy liberal democracy in a sympathetic manner.[11]


Charles Maurras, an FRS member of the Action française movement, stated in a famous dictum "Democracy is evil, democracy is death." Maurras' concept of politique naturelle declared recognition of inescapable biological inequality and thereby natural hierarchies, and claimed that the individual is naturally subordinated to social collectivities such as the family, the society, and the state, which he claims are doomed to fail if based upon the "myth of equality" or "abstract liberty". Maurras criticized democracy as being a "government by numbers" in which quantity matters more over quality and prefers the worst over the best. Maurras denounced the principles of liberalism as described in The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and in Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen as based upon the false assumption of liberty and the false assumption of equality. He claimed that the parliamentary system subordinates the national interest, or common good, to private interests of a parliament's representatives where only short-sighted interests of individuals prevail.


French revolutionary syndicalist Hubert Lagardelle claimed that French revolutionary syndicalism came to being as the result of "the reaction of the proletariat against democracy," which he claimed was "the popular form of bourgeois dominance." Lagardelle opposed democracy for its universalism, and believed in the necessity of class separation of the proletariat from the bourgeoisie, as democracy did not recognize the social differences between them.


Israeli politician Rabbi Elazar Menachem Shach promoted Judaic law to be the natural governance for Jews and condemned democracy, he claimed that "Democracy as a machinery of lies, false notions, pursuit of narrow interests and deceit - as opposed to the Torah regime, which is based on seeking the ultimate truth." Shach criticized democracy for having no real goals, saying "The whole point of democracy is money. The one does what the other asks him to do in pursuit of his own interest, so as to be given what he himself asks for, and the whole purpose of the transaction is that each would get what they want."

Criticism of democracy's process

Political instability

More recently, democracy is criticized for not offering enough political stability. As governments are frequently elected on and off there tend to be frequent changes in the policies of democratic countries both domestically and internationally. Even if a political party maintains power, vociferous, headline grabbing protests and harsh criticism from the mass media are often enough to force sudden, unexpected political change. Frequent policy changes with regard to business and immigration are likely to deter investment and so hinder economic growth. For this reason, many people have put forward the idea that democracy is undesirable for a developing country in which economic growth and the reduction of poverty are top priority.[12] However, Anthony Downs argued that the political market works much the same way as the economic market, and that there could potentially be an equilibrium in the system because of democratic process.[13] However, he eventually argued that imperfect knowledge in politicians and voters prevented the reaching of that equilibrium.[13]


Democracy is also criticised for frequent elections due to the instability of coalition governments. Coalitions are frequently formed after the elections in many countries (for example India) and the basis of alliance is predominantly to enable a viable majority, not an ideological concurrence.

This opportunist alliance not only has the handicap of having to cater to too many ideologically opposing factions, but it is usually short lived since any perceived or actual imbalance in the treatment of coalition partners, or changes to leadership in the coalition partners themselves, can very easily result in the coalition partner withdrawing its support from the government.

Democratic institutions work on consensus to decide an issue, which usually takes longer than a unilateral decision.

M. S. Golwalkar in his book Bunch of Thoughts describes democracy as, "is to a very large extent only a myth in practice...The high-sounding concept of "individual freedom" only meant the freedom of those talented few to exploit the rest."


This is a simple form of appealing to the short term interests of the voters.

Another form is commonly called Pork barrel, where local areas or political sectors are given special benefits but whose costs are spread among all taxpayers.

Mere elections are just one aspect of the democratic process. Other tenets of democracy, like relative equality and freedom, are frequently absent in ostensibly democratic countries.

Moreover, in many countries, democratic participation is less than 50% at times, and it can be argued that election of individual(s) instead of ideas disrupts democracy.

Potential incompatibility with former politics

The new establishment of democratic institutions, in countries where the associated practices have as yet been uncommon or deemed culturally unacceptable, can result in institutions that are not sustainable in the long term. One circumstance supporting this outcome may be when it is part of the common perception among the populace that the institutions were established as a direct result of foreign pressure.

Sustained regular inspection from democratic countries, however effortful and well-meaning, are normally not sufficient in preventing the erosion of democratic practices. In the cases of several African countries, corruption still is rife in spite of democratically elected governments, as one of the most severe examples, Zimbabwe, is often perceived to have backfired into outright militarism.

Efficiency of the system

Economist Donald Wittman has written numerous works attempting to counter criticisms of democracy common among his colleagues. He argues democracy is efficient based on the premise of rational voters, competitive elections, and relatively low political transactions costs. Economists, such as Meltzer and Richard, have added that as industrial activity in a democracy increases, so too do the people's demands for subsidies and support from the government. By the median voter theorem, only a few people actually hold the balance of power in the country, and many may be unhappy with their decisions. In this way, they argue, democracies are inefficient.[14]

Such a system could result in a wealth disparity or racial discrimination. Fierlbeck (1998) points out that such a result is not necessarily due to a failing in the democratic process, but rather, "because democracy is responsive to the desires of a large middle class increasingly willing to disregard the muted voices of economically marginalized groups within its own borders."[15] The will of the democratic majority may not always be in the best interest of all citizens.

Susceptibility to propaganda

Lack of political education

Voters may not be educated enough to exercise their democratic rights prudently. Politicians may take advantage of voters' irrationality, and compete more in the field of public relations and tactics, than in ideology. While arguments against democracy are often taken by advocates of democracy as an attempt to maintain or revive traditional hierarchy and autocratic rule, many extensions have been made to develop the argument further.[12] In Lipset's 1959 essay about the requirements for forming democracy, he found that almost all emerging democracies provided good education. However, education alone cannot sustain a democracy, though Caplan did note in 2005 that as people become educated, they think more like economists.[16]

Manipulation or control of public opinion

Politicians and special interests have attempted to manipulate public opinion for as long as recorded history − this has put into question the feasibility of democratic government.[17][18] Critics claim that mass media actually shapes public opinion, and can therefore be used to "control" democracy. Opinion polls before the election are under special criticism.[19][20] Furthermore, the disclosure of reputation damaging material shortly before elections may be used to significantly manipulate public opinion. In the United States the FBI was criticized for announcing that the agency would examine potentially incriminating evidence against Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server just 11 days before the election.[21] It has been said that misinformation − such as fake news − has become central to elections around the world.[21] In December 2016 United States' intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia worked "to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency" − including passing material against the Democrats to WikiLeaks to discredit the election and favor Donald Trump.[21] Social bots[22] and other forms of online propaganda as well as search engine result algorithms[23] may be used to alter the perception and opinion of voters. In 2016 Andrés Sepúlveda disclosed that he manipulated public opinion to rig elections in Latin America. According to him with a budget of $600,000 he led a team of hackers that stole campaign strategies, manipulated social media to create false waves of enthusiasm and derision, and installed spyware in opposition offices to help Enrique Peña Nieto, a right-of-center candidate, win the election.[24][25]

Manipulation of the opposition

Various reasons can be found for eliminating or suppressing political opponents. Methods such as false flags, counterterrorism-laws,[26] planting or creating compromising material and perpetuation of public fear may be used to suppress dissent. After a failed coup d'état over 110,000 people have been purged and nearly 40,000 have been imprisoned in Turkey, which is or was considered to be a democratic nation, during the 2016 Turkish purges.[27][28]

Fake parties, phantom political rivals and "scarecrow" opponents may be used to undermine the opposition.[29]

Limited responsiveness and representation

Robert A. Dahl defines democracies as systems of government that respond nearly fully to each and every one of their citizens. He then poses that no such, fully responsive system exists today.[3] However, this does not mean that partially democratic regimes do not exist—they do. Thus, Dahl rejects a democracy dichotomy in favor of a democratization spectrum. To Dahl, the question is not whether a country is a democracy or not. The question is to what extent a country is experiencing democratization at a national level. Dahl measures this democratization in terms of the country's endorsement and reception of public contestation. And polyarchy, or "rule of the many people," is the only existing form of democratizeable government; that is, it is within polyarchies that democratization can flourish. Countries do not immediately transform from hegemonies and competitive oligarchies into democracies. Instead, a country that adopts democracy as its form of government can only claim to have switched to polyarchy, which is conducive to, but does not guarantee, democratization. Dahl's polyarchy spectrum ends at the point in which a country becomes a full polyarchy at the national level and begins to democratize at the subnational level, among its social and private affairs. Dahl is not deeply concerned about the limits of his polyarchy spectrum because he believes that most countries today still have a long way before they reach full polyarchy status.[30] For Dahl, whatever lies beyond full polyarchy is only possible, and thus only a concern, for advanced countries like the Western Europe.

Criticism of democracy's outcome

Mob rule

Plato's Republic presents a critical view of democracy through the narration of Socrates: "Democracy, which is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequaled alike."[31] In his work, Plato lists 5 forms of government from best to worst. Assuming that the Republic was intended to be a serious critique of the political thought in Athens, Plato argues that only Kallipolis, an aristocracy led by the unwilling philosopher-kings (the wisest men), is a just form of government.

Plato rejected Athenian democracy on the basis that such democracies were anarchic societies without internal unity, that they followed citizens' impulses rather than pursuing the common good, that democracies are unable to allow a sufficient number of their citizens to have their voices heard, and that such democracies were typically run by fools. Plato attacked Athenian democracies for mistaking anarchy for freedom. The lack of coherent unity in Athenian democracy made Plato conclude that such democracies were a mere collection of individuals occupying a common space rather than a form of political organization.

According to Plato, other forms of government place too much focus on lesser virtues and degenerate into other forms from best to worst, starting with timocracy, which overvalues honour, then oligarchy, which overvalues wealth, which is followed by democracy. In democracy, the oligarchs, or merchant, are unable to wield their power effectively and the people take over, electing someone who plays on their wishes (for example, by throwing lavish festivals). However, the government grants the people too much freedom, and the state degenerates into the fourth form, tyranny, or mob rule.[32]

Oppression by the majority

The constitutions of many countries have parts of them that restrict the nature of the types of laws that legislatures can pass. A fundamental idea behind some of these restrictions, is that the majority of a population and its elected legislature can often be the source of minority persecutions, such as with racial discrimination. For example, during the mid-1930s and mid-1970s in the democratic country of Sweden, the government forcibly sterilized thousands of innocent women. They were sterilized due to "'mental defects', or simply because they were of mixed race."[33] A second example is when, in 2014 in Pakistan, "a Christian couple were burnt alive in a brick kiln by a mob for their alleged burning of the pages of Quran."[34] This was followed by little police retaliation and a statement from the President of Pakistan stating that his government would protect the rights and interests of the Christian community. Some countries throughout the world have judiciaries where judges can serve for long periods of time, and often serve under appointed posts. This is often balanced, however, by the fact that some trials are decided by juries. While many, like Wittman, have argued that democracies work much the same way as the free market and that there is competition among parties to prevent oppression by the majority, others have argued that there is actually very little competition among political parties in democracies due to the high cost associated with campaigning.[35]

John T. Wenders, a professor of Economics at the University of Idaho, writes:

"Freedom and democracy are different. In words attributed to Scottish historian Alexander Tytler: 'A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury.' Democracy evolves into kleptocracy. A majority bullying a minority is just as bad as a dictator, communist or otherwise, doing so. Democracy is two coyotes and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch."[36]

Additionally, some political scientists question the notion that majority rule is an "uncontested good."[37] If we base our critique on the definition of democracy as governance based on the will of the majority, there can be some foreseeable consequences to this form of rule. For example, Fierlbeck (1998: 12) points out that the middle class majority in a country may decide to redistribute wealth and resources into the hands of those that they feel are most capable of investing or increasing them. Of course this is only a critique of a subset of types of democracy that primarily use majority rule.

US President James Madison devoted the whole of Federalist No. 10 to a scathing critique of democracy and offered that republics are a far better solution, saying: "...democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." Madison offered that republics were superior to democracies because republics safeguarded against tyranny of the majority, stating in Federalist No. 10: "the same advantage which a republic has over a democracy, in controlling the effects of faction, is enjoyed by a large over a small republic".

The Founding Fathers of the United States intended to address this criticism by combining democracy with republicanism. A constitution[38] would limit the powers of what a simple majority can accomplish.[39]

Cyclical theory of government

Machiavelli put the idea that democracies will tend to cater to the whims of the people,[40] who follow false ideas to entertain themselves, squander their reserves, and do not deal with potential threats to their rule until it is too late.

However Machiavelli's definition of democracy was narrower than the current one. He hypothesized that a hybrid system of government incorporating facets of all three major types (monarchy, aristocracy and democracy) could break this cycle. Many modern democracies that have separation of powers are claimed to represent these kinds of hybrid governments. However, in modern democracies there is usually no direct correlation with Machiavelli's idea, because of weakening of the separation of powers, or erosion of the original function of the various branches. For example, the modern United States executive branch has slowly accumulated more power from the legislative branch, and the Senate no longer functions as a quasi-aristocratic body as was originally intended, since senators are now democratically elected.

Political Coase theorem

Some have tried to argue that the Coase theorem applies to political markets as well. Daron Acemoglu, however, provides evidence to the contrary, claiming that the Coase Theorem is only valid while there are "rules of the game," so to speak, that are being enforced by the government. But when there is nobody there to enforce the rules for the government itself, there is no way to guarantee that low transaction costs will lead to an efficient outcome in democracies.[41]



The practice of orthodox Islam in the form of Salafism can clash with a democratic system. The core precept of Islam, that of "tawheed", (the "oneness of God"), can be interpreted by fundamentalists to mean, among other things, that democracy as a political system is incompatible with the purported notion that laws not handed down by God should not be recognized.[42]

See also


  1. ^ "Democracy – Definition of Democracy by Merriam-Webster".
  2. ^ "Parliament Bill". November 11, 1947. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Dahl, Robert A. (1972). Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 1–16. ISBN 978-0300015652.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Manin, Bernard (1997). The Principles of Representative Government. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 2, 67–93, 132–160. ISBN 978-0521458917.
  5. ^ Thom Hartmann, "Time to Remove the Bananas...and Return Our Republic to Democracy",, 6 November 2002
  6. ^ Arrow, Kenneth J.; Lind, Robert C. (June 1970). "Uncertainty and the Evaluation of Public Investment Decisions". The American Economic Review. 60 (3): 364–378. JSTOR 1817987.
  7. ^ "Friedrich Nietzsche / The Inevitabilty of Democracy -- 1886". Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  8. ^ Nietzche, Friedrich (2018). Beyond Good and Evil / On the Genealogy of Morals. Clap Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1635378443.
  9. ^ a b c James L. Hyland. Democratic theory: the philosophical foundations. Manchester, England, UK; New York, New York, USA: Manchester University Press ND, 1995. Pp. 247.
  10. ^ Blamires, Cyprian (2006). World Fascism: a Historical Encyclopedia. 1. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc. p. 418. ISBN 9781576079409.
  11. ^ Blamires, Cyprian (2006). World Fascism: a Historical Encyclopedia. 1. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc. pp. 418–419. ISBN 9781576079409.
  12. ^ a b Richburg, Keith (October 16, 2008). "Head to head: African democracy". BBC News. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  13. ^ a b Downs, Anthony (April 1957). "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy". Journal of Political Economy. 65 (2): 135–150. doi:10.1086/257897. JSTOR 1827369.
  14. ^ Meltzer, Allan H.; Richard, Scott F. (October 1981). "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government". Journal of Political Economy. 89 (5): 914–927. doi:10.1086/261013. JSTOR 1830813. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  15. ^ Shrag, P. (1956), "india elected anarchy." nehru, 289(1734), 50-9.
  16. ^ Bendix, Reinhard; Lipset, Seymour M. (June 1957). "Political Sociology". Current Sociology. 6 (2): 79–99. doi:10.1177/001139215700600201. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  17. ^ Jacobs, Lawrence R. (December 1, 2001). "Commentary: Manipulators and Manipulation: Public Opinion in a Representative Democracy". Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law. 26 (6): 1361–1374. doi:10.1215/03616878-26-6-1361. ISSN 1527-1927. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  18. ^ Gorton, William A. (January 2, 2016). "Manipulating Citizens: How Political Campaigns' Use of Behavioral Social Science Harms Democracy". New Political Science. 38: 61–80. doi:10.1080/07393148.2015.1125119.
  19. ^ "Does Polling Undermine Democracy?". The New York Times. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  20. ^ Davis, Colin J.; Bowers, Jeffrey S.; Memon, Amina (March 30, 2011). "Social Influence in Televised Election Debates: A Potential Distortion of Democracy". PLOS ONE. 6 (3): e18154. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018154. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 3068183. PMID 21479191.
  21. ^ a b c "Was the 2016 U.S. election democratic? Here are 7 serious shortfalls". Washington Post. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  22. ^ "Merkel fears social bots may manipulate German election". Reuters. November 24, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  23. ^ "The new power of manipulation". Deutsche Welle. October 18, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  24. ^ "How to Hack an Election". Bloomberg. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  25. ^ "Man claims he rigged elections in most Latin American countries over 8 years". The Independent. April 2, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  26. ^ Chronicles. Rockford Institute. 2003. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  27. ^ "Turkey's crackdown on dissent has gone too far". Financial Times. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  28. ^ Norton, Ben (November 2, 2016). "Turkey's ruthless, slow-motion coup: 110,000 purged as Western ally cracks down on dissent, journalism". Salon. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  29. ^ Wilson, Andrew (2005). Virtual politics : faking democracy in the post-Soviet world (1st ed.). New Haven [u.a.]: Yale Univ. Pr. ISBN 9780300095456.
  30. ^ Dahl, Robert A. (1970). After the Revolution? Authority in a Good Society. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  31. ^ Plato, the Republic of Plato (London: J.M Dent & Sons LTD.; New York: E.P. Dutton & Co. Inc.), 558-C.
  32. ^ Michels, Robert. Political Parties – A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy, Jarrold & Sons. London, 1916.
  33. ^ "Why democracy is wrong". Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  34. ^ "The Khilafah". January 3, 2015.
  35. ^ Becker, Gary S. (1958). "Competition and Democracy". HeinOnline. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
  36. ^ Wenders, John T. (January 1, 1998). "Democracy Would Doom Hong Kong". Foundation for Economic Education. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
  37. ^ Fierlbeck, K. (1998) Globalizing Democracy: Power, Legitimacy and the Interpretation of democratic ideas. (p. 13) Manchester University Press, New York.
  38. ^ Lowell, A. Lawrence. "Democracy and the Constitution," Essays on Government, Houghton Mifflin & Co. New York, 1890.
  39. ^ James Madison, Federalist No. 10
  40. ^ Danoff, Brian; Hebert, Louie Joseph (2011). Alexis de Tocqueville and the Art of Democratic Statesmanship. Lexington Books. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-7391-4529-6. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  41. ^ Acemoglu, Daron (2003). "Why Not A Political Coase Theorem? Social Conflict, Commitment, And Politics". Journal of Comparative Economics. 31 (4): 620–652. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/j.jce.2003.09.003.
  42. ^ Salafism in the Netherlands: Diversity and dynamics (PDF). General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV). 2015. p. 12.

Further reading


  • Algoud, François-Marie. De la Démocratie à la Démoncratie, ou la Mort Programmée, Éditions de Chiré, 2008.
  • Baumier, Matthieu. La Démocratie Totalitaire: Penser la Modernité Post-Démocratique, Presses de la Renaissance, 2007.
  • Caponnetto, Antonio. La Perversión Democrática, Editorial Santiago Apóstol, 2008.
  • d’Andigné, Amédée. L’Équivoque Démocratique, Au Fil d’Ariane, 1963.
  • Fromentoux, Michel. L’Illusion Démocratique, Nouvelles Éditions Latines, 1975.
  • Haupt, Jean. Le Procès de la Démocratie, Cahiers découvertes, 1971.
  • Madiran, Jean. Les Deux Démocraties, Nouvelles Éditions Latines, 1977.
  • Montejano, Bernardino. La Democracia Según el Magisterio de la Iglesia, Buenos Aires, 1966.
  • Popescu, Stan. Autopsia de la Democracia, Euthymia, 1984.
  • Ramos, Fulvio. La Iglesia y la Democracia, Cruz y Fierro, 1984.
2017 Turkish constitutional referendum

A constitutional referendum was held throughout Turkey on 16 April 2017 on whether to approve 18 proposed amendments to the Turkish constitution that were brought forward by the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). If approved, the office of the Prime Minister would be abolished and the existing parliamentary system of government would be replaced with an executive presidency and a presidential system. The number of seats in Parliament was proposed to be raised from 550 to 600 while the president was proposed to be given more control over appointments to the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). The referendum was held under a state of emergency that was declared following a failed military coup attempt in July 2016.

Early results indicated a 51–49% lead for the "Yes" vote. In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) allowed non-stamped ballots to be accepted as valid. Some opposers to the reform decried this move to be illegal, claiming that as many as 1.5 million ballots were unstamped, and refused to recognize the results. Large-scale protests erupted following the results in order to protest the YSK's decision. In subsequent reports, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) both criticised unfairness during the campaign and declared the YSK's decision to be illegal.An executive presidency has been a long-standing proposal of the governing AKP and its founder, the current President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In October 2016, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) announced its co-operation for producing draft proposals with the government, with the combined support of both AKP and MHP MPs being sufficient to put forward the proposals to a referendum following a parliamentary vote in January. Those in favour of a 'Yes' vote argued that the changes were necessary for a strong and stable Turkey, arguing that an executive presidency would bring about an end to unstable coalition governments that had dominated Turkish politics since the 1960s up until 2002. The 'No' campaign have argued that the proposals would concentrate too much power in the hands of the President, effectively dismantling the separation of powers and taking legislative authority away from Parliament. Critics argued that the proposed system would resemble an 'elected dictatorship' with no ability to hold the executive to account, leading effectively to a 'democratic suicide' and autocracy. Three days before the referendum, one of Erdoğan's aides called for a federal system should the 'Yes' vote prevail, causing a backlash from the pro-Yes MHP. Both sides of the campaign have been accused of using divisive and extreme rhetoric, with Erdoğan accusing all 'No' voters of being terrorists siding with the plotters of the failed 2016 coup.The campaign was marred by allegations of state suppression against 'No' campaigners, while the 'Yes' campaign were able to make use of state facilities and funding to organise rallies and campaign events. Leading members of the 'No' campaign, which included many high-profile former members of the MHP such as Meral Akşener, Ümit Özdağ, Sinan Oğan, and Yusuf Halaçoğlu were all subject to both violence and campaign restrictions. The 'Yes' campaign were faced with campaigning restrictions by several European countries, with the German, Dutch, Danish and Swiss governments all cancelling or requesting the suspension of 'Yes' campaign events directed at Turkish voters living abroad. The restrictions caused a sharp deterioration in diplomatic relations and caused a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and the Netherlands. Concerns were also raised about voting irregularities, with 'Yes' voters in Germany being caught attempting to vote more than once and also being found to have been in possession of ballot papers before the overseas voting process had started. European election monitors said the vote did not meet international standards.

Against Democracy

Against Democracy is a 2016 book by political philosopher Jason Brennan.The book challenges the belief that the simplified version of democracy used nowadays is good and moral.

In his work, Brennan primarily suggests that voters tend to be irrational and ignorant about politics. He believes that there is little incentive for voters to inform themselves about politics, as they believe (correctly) that one vote will not make a great difference in the overall election results. Moreover, he states that voters tend to make decisions that are ideologically inclined and easily manipulated.

Brennan presents and discusses different alternatives of "the rule of the knowledgeable" (epistocracy), where only the most knowledgeable voters get to elect our leaders.

Criticism of government

Criticism of government may refer to criticism of particular government, or of the concept of government itself. In certain cases, such as in certain monarchies and authoritarian (or sometimes totalitarian or dictatorial) governments, criticizing the government is considered criminal speech and is punished in accord which the perceived severity of the claimed crime.

Anarchism – according to one definition, is the concept that all government is bad, and people would do better with no government.

Criticism of royalty – this includes criticism of the monarchy, and royal families

Criticism of democracy – criticism of democracy comes from various points of view, including monarchical, authoritarian, totalitarian, and libertarian points of view.

Criticism of communism (disambiguation)

Criticism of socialism

Criticism of presidential systems

Criticism of the United States government

Criticism of the Israeli government

Criticism of libertarianism

Criticism of libertarianism includes ethical, economic, environmental and pragmatic concerns, though most of them are mainly related to right-libertarianism. For instance, it has been argued that laissez-faire capitalism does not necessarily produce the best or most efficient outcome, nor does its philosophy of individualism and policies of deregulation prevent the abuse of natural resources. Criticisms of left-libertarianism are instead mainly related to anarchism and include allegations of utopianism, tacit authoritarianism and vandalism towards feats of civilization. Furthermore, some criticisms include left-libertarians critiques of right-libertarianism and viceversa.

Direct democracy

Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which people decide on policy initiatives directly. This differs from the majority of currently established democracies, which are representative democracies.

Free Talk Live

Free Talk Live is an American call-in radio talk show heard seven nights a week. The program is hosted primarily by Ian Freeman and Mark Edge. They are typically joined by a rotating cast of changing co-hosts. It is a chiefly libertarian anarchist political talk show and topics range from current events to philosophy, from politics to personal issues. Free Talk Live engages in only a very basic form of call screening. The show is broadcast from Keene, New Hampshire. Before moving to New Hampshire as part of the Free State Project, the show was broadcast from Sarasota, Florida.The program is syndicated on over 160 radio stations via The Genesis Communications Network, 2 television stations across the United States, as well as on a KU-band satellite channel across North America and Africa, and multiple Internet radio networks around the globe. The nightly shows are alternatively available on the Free Talk Live website through podcast. Archives of more than 12 years of past shows are also available for download in MP3 format from the website.

Governance failure

A governance failure refers to any failures of governance or ineffectiveness of governance processes.

Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Hans-Hermann Hoppe (; German: [ˈhɔpə]; born September 2, 1949) is a German-born American Austrian School economist, and paleolibertarian anarcho-capitalist philosopher. He is Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), Senior Fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, former Editor of the Journal of Libertarian Studies, a lifetime member of the Royal Horticultural Society and the founder and president of the Property and Freedom Society.Hoppe identifies as a culturally conservative libertarian. Some of his remarks and ideas have provoked controversy among his libertarian peers and his colleagues at UNLV. His belief in rights of property owners to establish private covenant communities, from which homosexuals and political dissidents may be "physically removed," has proved particularly divisive. Hoppe also garners controversy due to his support for restrictive limits on immigration which critics argue is at odds with libertarianism and anarchism.

Herbert Spiro

Herbert John Spiro (September 7, 1924 – April 6, 2010) was an American political scientist and diplomat. Born in Hamburg, Germany, where he attended the Wilhelm-Gymnasium, he and his family emigrated to the United States in 1938, fleeing Nazi persecution. He served with the United States Army in World War II, and afterwards received bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees from Harvard University. The author of thirteen books on politics and government, he taught at Amherst College and the University of Pennsylvania. During the Ford administration, he served as United States Ambassador to Cameroon and to Equatorial Guinea, though the latter country declared him persona non grata. He later returned to academia as a professor at the Free University of Berlin. In the early 1990s, he ran for state and then national office as a Republican from Texas, but was not elected.

Internet manipulation

Internet manipulation refers to media manipulation on the Internet.Such manipulation may be conducted for purposes of propaganda, discreditation, harming corporate or political competitors, improving personal or brand reputation or plain trolling among other things. To accomplish these objectives, online influencers, hired professionals and/or software − typically Internet bots such as social bots, votebots and clickbots − may be used.

Cognitive hacking refers to a cyberattack that aims to change users' perceptions and corresponding behaviors.Internet manipulation is sometimes also used to describe selective Internet censorship or violations of net neutrality.

Liberal democracy

Liberal democracy is a liberal political ideology and a form of government in which representative democracy operates under the principles of classical liberalism. Also called Western democracy, it is characterised by elections between multiple distinct political parties, a separation of powers into different branches of government, the rule of law in everyday life as part of an open society, a market economy with private property and the equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and political freedoms for all people. To define the system in practice, liberal democracies often draw upon a constitution, either formally written or uncodified, to delineate the powers of government and enshrine the social contract. After a period of sustained expansion throughout the 20th century, liberal democracy became the predominant political system in the world.

A liberal democracy may take various constitutional forms as it may be a constitutional monarchy (such as Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom) or a republic (such as France, India, Italy, Ireland and the United States). It may have a parliamentary system (such as Australia, Canada, India, Israel, Ireland, Italy and the United Kingdom), a presidential system (such as Indonesia and the United States) or a semi-presidential system (such as France and Romania).

Liberal democracies usually have universal suffrage, granting all adult citizens the right to vote regardless of ethnicity, sex, or property ownership. However, historically some countries regarded as liberal democracies have had a more limited franchise and some do not have secret ballots. There may also be qualifications such as voters being required to register before being allowed to vote. The decisions made through elections are made not by all of the citizens but rather by those who are eligible and who choose to participate by voting.

The liberal democratic constitution defines the democratic character of the state. The purpose of a constitution is often seen as a limit on the authority of the government. Liberal democracy emphasises the separation of powers, an independent judiciary and a system of checks and balances between branches of government. Liberal democracies are likely to emphasise the importance of the state being a Rechtsstaat, i.e. a state that follows the principle of rule of law. Governmental authority is legitimately exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws adopted and enforced in accordance with established procedure. Many democracies use federalism—also known as vertical separation of powers—in order to prevent abuse and increase public input by dividing governing powers between municipal, provincial and national governments (e.g. Germany, where the federal government assumes the main legislative responsibilities and the federated Länder assume many executive tasks).

Online discussion platform

An online discussion platform is an online platform that allows for, or is built specifically for, online discussion.

Outline of democracy

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to democracy.

Democracy – form of government which allows people to participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws.


Paleolibertarianism is a variety of libertarianism developed by anarcho-capitalist theorists Murray Rothbard and Llewellyn Rockwell that combines conservative cultural values and social philosophy with a libertarian opposition to government intervention.


Right-libertarianism, or right-wing libertarianism, refers to libertarian political philosophies that advocate natural law, laissez faire capitalism, civil liberties, and a major reversal of the modern welfare state. Right-libertarians strongly support private property rights and defend market distribution of natural resources and private property. This position is contrasted with that of some versions of left-libertarianism. Yellow is often used as political colour for right-libertarianism.Right-libertarian political thought is characterized by the strict priority given to liberty, with the need to maximize the realm of individual freedom and minimize the scope of public authority. Right-libertarians typically see the state as the principal threat to liberty. This anti-statism, however, differs from anarchist doctrines in that it is based upon an uncompromising individualism that places little or no emphasis upon human sociability or cooperation.The philosophy is also rooted in the ideas of individual rights and laissez-faire economics. The right-libertarianism theory of individual rights generally stresses that the individual is the owner of their person and thus that people have an absolute entitlement to the property that their labor produces. Economically, right libertarians emphasize the self-regulating nature and mechanisms of the market, portraying government intervention and attempts to redistribute wealth as invariably unnecessary and counter-productive. Although all right-libertarians oppose government intervention, there is a division between those who adhere to the anarcho-capitalism position, who view the state as an unnecessary evil, and minarchists who recognize the necessary need for a minimal state.Although influenced by classical liberal thought, with some viewing right-libertarianism as an outgrowth or as a variant of it, there are significant differences. With Edwin van de Haar stating that "confusingly, in the United States the term libertarianism is sometimes also used for or by classical liberals. But this erroneously masks the differences between them." Classical liberalism refuses to give priority to liberty over order and therefore does not exhibit the hostility to the state, which is the defining feature of libertarianism. Subsequently, right-libertarians believe classical liberals favor too much state involvement, arguing that they do not have enough respect for individual property rights and lack sufficient trust in the workings of the free market and spontaneous order leading to support of a much larger state. Also, right-libertarians often attack classical liberals for their support for central banks and monetarist policies.

Slavic Native Faith's identity and political philosophy

Slavic Native Faith (Rodnovery) is intrinsically related to the identity of the Slavs and the broader group of populations with Indo-European origins. Scholar Kaarina Aitamurto has studied Rodnovers' political philosophy as a form of "democratic criticism of liberal democracy", or grassroots democracy. They generally propose a political system in which power is entrusted to assemblies of consensually-acknowledged wise men, or to a single wise individual.

Scott Simpson states that Slavic Native Faith is "fundamentally concerned with questions of community and ethnic identity". Shnirelman notes that the movement is "obsessed with the idea of origin". Rodnovery typically displays greater concern for collective rights than individual rights. Most Rodnover groups will permit only Slavs as members, although there are a few exceptions.

Spartan hegemony

The polis of Sparta was the greatest military land power of classical Greek antiquity. During the classical period, Sparta governed, dominated or influenced the entire Peloponnese. Additionally, the defeat of the Athenians and the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War in 431-404 BC resulted in a short-lived Spartan dominance of the southern Greek world from 404 to 371 BC. Due to their mistrust of others, Spartans discouraged the creation of records about their internal affairs. The only histories of Sparta are from the writings of Xenophon, Thucydides, Herodotus and Plutarch, none of whom were Spartans. Plutarch was writing several centuries after the period of Spartan hegemony had ceased. This creates difficulties in understanding the Spartan political system, which was distinctly different from any other Greek polis.


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