Under a direct democracy form of government, the citizens of that nation are given the ability to decide their own fate. This is because they are involved with every decision that is being made. The majority will always rule because each decision is put forth to the people.
The advantage of this system is that because the government acts on the will of the people, everyone has the ability to speak their mind or give their opinion with a fear of reprisal. On the other hand, when every decision must be directly decided by the people, the time it takes to act can be lengthy and with added costs. Is a direct democracy a good system of government to have? Here are the key advantages and disadvantages to consider with this type of government.
5 Advantages of a Direct Democracy
1. This is the most transparent form of government.
There must be a complete and total level of transparency in a direct democracy. The citizens of a country with this type of government must be given all necessary information to make an informed decision at all times. This means the progress this society can achieve is directly influenced by the majority at all times.
2. There are high levels of accountability.
Because this form of government relies on the citizenship more than government officials, the structure naturally provides a higher level of accountability. Instead of forcing citizens to go through multiple levels of bureaucracy to make their point, the people go straight to the government. If the correct actions aren’t taken, the people can act immediately to correct that situation.
3. It increases trust.
When we discuss issues, we establish trust for one another. Even people on polar extremes of an issue can establish trust when the goal is to learn from one another. Although not perfect in implementation, it is this format which a direct democracy helps to encourage.
4. It makes people take ownership of their decisions.
There’s no one to blame except oneself in a direct democracy. If you influenced a decision because you thought it was the right action to take and it ended up being the wrong action, then you are directly responsible. This stops a lot of the anonymous bickering and name-calling that goes back and forth in other government structures because each person has some skin in the game.
5. It is the epitome of fairness.
One person, one vote is a process of many democracies, but in a direct democracy, it is the precise definition of societal fairness. If you want to get involved, then you can. You work toward a decision. You become the deciding factor in your life.
5 Disadvantages of a Direct Democracy
1. More time must be allowed to make decisions.
Because a direct democracy requires everyone to come to a majority or consensus decision, more time must be given by the government before actions can be taken. Anyone who wishes to have their voice heard must be given a forum so that they can express their opinion in a meaningful way.
2. Sometimes the majority isn’t always in the right.
Majority or consensus decisions aren’t always the right path for a society to take. In the 1960s, for example, the majority of people did not favor the outcomes desired by the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. But, because of the actions of a minority group, meaningful laws were passed that helped to end segregation. In a direct democracy, it could have taken years to get the majority to take these actions – and they might not have happened at all.
3. The majority might be apathetic and not care.
A direct democracy can only work when everyone is getting involved with their government. If a majority of people are apathetic about a decision, then a small minority of people can take control over the government or influence the decisions needing to be made in a negative way.
4. It can create high levels of polarization.
What happens if there isn’t a clear majority on an issue? Polarization within the citizenship of a country doesn’t just go away when everyone has the chance to express their opinion. Sometimes the tension between two opposite opinions can be even greater under this structure because each has something invested into getting the outcome they desire.
5. It is an inefficient practice for larger nations.
For a country like Switzerland, the idea of a direct democracy makes sense because the citizenship is at a smaller scale than a country like the United States. Imagine a nation like China, with over 1 billion people, all having the ability to express an opinion before a decision is made? The costs would be staggering and the process would be quite inefficient.
These direct democracy advantages and disadvantages are just a small sampling of the key points that could be made on this subject. Do you feel like this is a fair form of government? Why or why not?