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Democracy V. Republic: What Is the Difference?

Human beings reside on one planet, under one atmosphere. Despite it, there is a separation of landmasses, ranging into different continents and countries. Each country has its own culture, tradition, and history. These countries are governed by the government, which is further categorized into many forms. Democracy and Republic are the most popular of all.

The world has 195 countries. Each of these countries has different forms of government, leaders, powers, and rights. The government is responsible for the proper functioning, law, and order, rights, and duties. There are many differences in how these countries govern themselves. The government of any country influences many factors including the growth and development of the country, rights of its people, the standard of living of its people, the relation between the states and with the foreign countries.

Democracy V. Republic

Democracy and Republic are the most popular forms of government we have worldwide. Each of them has varied characteristics. Here are the differences between the two:

What is a Democracy?

A democracy or democratic form of government is where all the eligible citizens have the right of equal participation in forming the government. Such participation may be direct or through elected representatives, development, in the proposal, or creation of laws.

The democratic form of government is where the people choose their own government. Out of all the parties to the election, the majority having maximum votes, rules for a particular time. After the establishment of the majority, the minority has no say in the affairs of the government.

When Was Democracy Originated?

The word ‘democracy’ was first coined in the 5th century BCE to refer to the government in Athens, Greece. The citizens here governed themselves, now referred to as a pure democracy.

In ancient Athens, they did not have anyone to represent themselves in the government. Everyone had their own voice and opinions. It gave rise to frequent debates about how the country should be governed. Over time, the male Athenian citizens were given individual rights to vote. The qualified citizens of the country were also given time off work and a stipend to ensure that everyone’s voice was heard. It happened through the Athenian Assembly.

Soon this type of democracy was replaced by a more representative form of government. It was an underlying idea that the government works the best when it is run by citizens. The idea then surpassed the vicinity of Greece and reached the western world, including the United States of America.

Pros of a Democracy

  • This type of government is favored for its ability to decentralize the power as the public remains in charge of running the whole system.
  • The democratic form of government is all about equality and fair justice for one and all.
  • The government allows a greater degree of freedom of trade, practicing religion, and following different cultures and traditions.

Cons of Democracy

  • This type of government may encourage mob rule. As a result, the minority always gets exploited by the majority.
  • There is a hunger for more power; thus, the leaders become corrupt.
  • As many people keep voicing their opinions, decision-making becomes a cumbersome process.

What is a Republic?

The word ‘republic’ is used today for representative democracy having an elected head of the state such as the President, who serves for a limited term. Similar to democracy, the majority rules the country through its chosen representatives. However, there is a constitution of basic rights that protects the minority from being entirely unrepresented or overridden.

When was Republic Originated?

Many ancient states were a republic. One of the most notable was the Roman Republic that existed between 500 BCE and 27 BCE. During this time, the country expanded to encompass most of modern-day Europe with some parts of Africa and Asia.

It is the same period that marked the country’s switch from being ruled by the king (monarchy) to a constitutional government. In 509, BCE, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the last Roman King, was sent to exile and ended the monarchy.

The Roman Senate comprising the noble families of the country decided to establish a new type of government. It was to be led by two elected consuls entertaining equal powers and serving one-year terms. The consuls were elected by the legislative assemblies comprising male citizens of the country. These assemblies were also given the right to vote on the laws developed by the Roman Senate.

The job of the Senate was to draft new laws that would be voted on by the Assembly. Over the upcoming centuries, the government of Rome began to develop a set of guidelines and principles to govern the expanding country, coalescing into the Roman Constitution. It remained one of the foundational governing documents in the Roman Empire. Unfortunately, it was collapsed in the 5th century CE.

Pros of Republic

  • If the laws seem unfair to the public, they have the right to change their leader.
  • A republican form of government protects the interest of every citizen, even if they belong to a minority.
  • The constitution puts self-restraint on the leaders who abuse their powers.

Cons of Republic

  • The Republican form of government gives rise to constant deadlocks and many debates.
  • A lot of time gets wasted on legislation.

Difference Between Democracy and Republic

  • Under democracy, the power lies in the hands of the people, but in a republic form of government, this power is granted to individual citizens only.
  • In a democratic system, the majority creates the laws to govern the country. In the Republican government, the laws are made and governed by the representatives elected by the people.
  • The majority makes the laws under a democratic form of government. The Republic system follows the establishment of laws by the elected representatives.
  • In a democracy, the will of the majority can override the existing rights of the people. Under the republic system, the will of the majority cannot be overridden. The constitution protects all rights.
  • The democratic form of government puts no constraints on the rule of government, but the republican does.
  • In a democratic rule, the entire focus is laid on the general will of the people. The republican government focuses on the constitution. It is above every citizen.

Despite the bragging of the word democracy, many countries govern themselves as republics. That being said, republics also differ widely. Stay tuned for more.

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