5 Fundamental Pros and Cons of Representative Democracy

Representative democracy is a kind of democracy where elected officials represent a group of people in government processes. This form of government is popular in regions with a high population that direct representation is simply not feasible. This type of democracy is an element of both the parliamentary system and the presidential system of government. It is mostly used in a lower chamber such as the House of Commons in the UK or the Bundestag in Germany.

Basically, citizens elect representatives to serve in a chamber such as a senate, parliament, House of Representatives, and any other similar government body. In a direct democracy, it’s the citizens who draft bills, debate them and vote to have them passed into law. In a representative democracy, elected officials do the aforementioned tasks in behalf of the citizens. This kind of government has its fair share of supporters and detractors.

Pros of Representative Democracy

1. It is efficient, especially when it comes to voting on issues
In a direct democracy, citizens are given the freedom to decide things on their own. While this is manageable in countries where there are fewer citizens, the logistics of pulling this off in a country so big with many citizens too boot becomes a hassle.

Instead, the people elect officials who share their interests into office. In other words, an elected representative becomes the voice of the segment he or she represents. So when it comes to voting on certain issues, it won’t be difficult to gather around representatives because they work within the same building.

2. It allows officials to be democratically elected
The people decide on who they want to see assume office. In other words, they have to vote wisely on the person they want to see represent them and defend their shared beliefs and opinions. People vote representatives into office because they possess the education and training to better understand the needs of their jurisdiction.

Cons of Representative Democracy

1. Representatives might not serve their jurisdiction properly
Sometimes, the majority vote often ends up as not the favorable vote. This means that the person who ends up representing a particular jurisdiction can have different opinions than those they serve. There are many cases where representatives seem to serve their own needs and preferences rather than those of the people they are supposed to represent.

For instance, if a wealthy representative ends up serving a jurisdiction that is mostly low income, they might not be able to relate to the problems and therefore can’t provide the necessary solutions. Even worse, they might not be aware of the plight of their constituents.

Plus, it’s quite difficult to elect a representative of a community that is heterogeneous. Basically, not everyone will be in agreement with what they do or plan.

2. Citizens don’t participate in a representative democracy
In the end, it’s the representative who has the final say on things, and most of the time, the opinion of constituents is not even considered.

3. Representative can be deceptive
While a candidate may promise a brighter and better future during the campaign season, all that could change when they step into office.