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the democratically elected Parliament

Examples of Direct Democracy: Athens and Switzerland

Perhaps the best example of direct democracy existed in ancient Athens, Greece. While it excluded women, slaves, and immigrants from voting, Athenian direct democracy required all citizens to vote on all major issues of government. Even the verdict of every court case was determined by a vote of all the people.

In the most prominent example in modern society, Switzerland practices a modified form of direct democracy under which any law enacted by the nation’s elected legislative branch can be vetoed by a vote of the general public. In addition, citizens can vote to require the national legislature to consider amendments to the Swiss constitution.

Pros and Cons of Direct Democracy

While the idea of having the ultimate say-so over the affairs of government might sound tempting, there are some good – and bad – aspects of direct democracy that need to be considered:

3 Pros of Direct Democracy

  1. Full Government Transparency: Without a doubt, no other form of democracy ensures a greater degree of openness and transparency between the people and their government. Discussions and debates on major issues are held in public. In addition, all successes or failures of the society can be credited to – or blamed on – the people, rather than the government.
  2.  More Government Accountability: By offering the people a direct and unmistakable voice through their votes, direct democracy demands a great level of accountability on the part of the government. The government cannot claim it was unaware of or unclear on the will of the people. Interference in the legislative process from partisan political parties and special interest groups are largely eliminated.
  3. Greater Citizen Cooperation: In theory at least, people are more likely to happily comply with laws they create themselves. Moreover, people who know that their opinions will make a difference, they more eager to take part in the processes of government.