Representative democracy

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Representative democracy (RD) is a system of government in which citizens elect representatives to make policy decisions – as opposed to direct democracy, where citizens vote directly on such decisions.

  • Advantages:
    • Decisionmakers can be provided with adequate resources (time, assistance, expertise) for making good decisions.
    • Meaningful debate and consensus are theoretically possible, given the smaller number of negotiators.
  • Disadvantages:
    • RD creates unaccountable concentration of power in a number of ways:
      • Traditional forms of RD usually have set terms for each representative and a very high bar for recall (i.e. removal from office by popular initiative), giving them a large window during which they may do damage.
      • Traditional electoral methods:
        • support the creation and continuance of a two-party system, greatly narrowing the field of available candidates.
        • do not represent the wishes of the voters very accurately, often resulting in the election of "compromise" candidates strongly disliked by a majority.
        • can be manipulated by the powerful in a number of ways, including gerrymandering and mass-media propaganda (advertising).


  • Liquid representation attempts to address the problems inherent in RD without creating the problems inherent in DD.
  • Range voting increases vote fidelity, making it more difficult to manipulate the vote and providing less stability for a two-party system.
  • Having representatives deliberate online, so that they didn't need to travel long distances when elected, would reduce the need for long terms of office.
    • Having such deliberations take place solely in text mode would also provide a searchable record of such deliberation, making it easier to hold representatives accountable.
    • Structured debate would rigorously document the logic (if any) behind each position, further ensuring accountability.