The advantages and disadvantages of Representative Democracy
It is the only form of democracy which will work in large nation states. Direct democracy is only achievable in relatively small communities, especially in the form of government by mass meeting. It is therefore a practical means of making democracy work.
• Elected representatives have the time to develop skills and knowledge in order to make informed decisions. They can therefore govern for the people using their superior understanding to act in the public interest. Therefore they represent as 'Trustees' rather than delegates.
• People are too busy to take part in politics directly. Representative democracy is more efficient because ordinary citizens are relieved of the burden of day-to- day decision-making – they simply have to choose who they want to govern them. Random selection (sortition) would be an inconvenient duty for most people.
• Representative democracy maintains distance between ordinary citizens and difficult decisions. This encourages compromise and decisions which can be free of passion and emotion. This avoids the tyranny of the majority since politicians can make decisions in the interest of all citizens.
However, critics might argue that representative democracy is a façade and not real democracy. The act of voting every few years is, at best, a democratic ritual; and, at worst, it benefits the government more than the people. by keeping power in the hands of the same class. Governments therefore govern in the name of the people, but, in practice, the people may have little meaningful control over government. There is also confusion about exactly how politicians should represent. The Trustee model seems condescending- since politicians claim to 'know what's best' and this is used as an excuse for ignoring the real interests of the people. Representatives tend tp come from a narrow class background with little resemblance to the general population.
Strengths of Representative Democracy
Vote leave by education
Weaknesses of Representative Democracy
In the 2010 election PM Gordon Brown is recorded calling a women 'bigoted'. Or was she just an ordinary voter who he could not understand?