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Direct Versus Indirect Democracy

Direct democracy, in contrast to representative democracy, describes political decisions of factual issues by voters themselves. In a representative democracy, politicians in parliament and government formulate and pass laws on behalf of the voters who have elected them. Voters’ political will is thus transformed in representative democracy; for example, by the deliberations taking place in parliaments and parliamentary committees, such that it only indirectly influences political outcomes. In direct democracy, voters directly shape political decisions.

Instruments of Direct Democracy

Historically, direct democracy took place in town meetings, for example, in the Athenian democracy and the Germanic Thing (assembly). Still today, town meetings exist in the United States and in Switzerland, the two countries most widely using instruments of direct democracy. In two Swiss cantons, Appenzell Inner ...

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