Forms of Government (Democracy)

Forms of Government (Democracy)

Forms of Government

Part 1

As the world is mourning the recent death of the Queen of England, lets take a moment to peak at the different forms of government that are or have been in existence throughout the history of the world.


  • The most well-known definition of Democracy comes from the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln which is “that government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
  • Democracy is known as the ideal form of government throughout the modern world.
  • The western form of democracy originated in the city state of Athens in Ancient Greece.
  • India is said to have had democratic kingdoms during the Mahajanapadas period such as Shakya clan to which Buddha belonged to.

Democracy is classified into two forms

  1. Direct Democracy:

    Direct democracy is considered as pure democracy by some of its proponents as it postulates that the electors themselves will be responsible for creating laws and policies. Direct Democracy is seen as unattainable in most of the countries with Switzerland serving as the lone exception. Direct Democracy is achieved through the use of four devices such as:

    a) Plebiscite:

    In Plebiscite, people are asked to vote on an issue in order to gauge the people’s support. Results of Plebiscites are not binding on the government.

    b) Referendum:

    Like Plebiscite, Referendum also asks for the electors to vote. However, unlike Plebiscite, the results of Referendums are binding on the Government.

    c) Recall:

    Recall is a devise of Direct Democracy when an elected official or a proposed law is withdrawn or recalled due to public opposition.

    d) Initiative:

    Initiative is a device in direct democracy which allows the citizens to propose a new law or constitutional amendment to the government rather than government proposing to the citizens.

  2. Representative democracy:

    Representative democracy, also known as indirect democracy is the more common form of democracy practiced by countries around the world.
    In this form, the people elect representatives who will create laws and policies instead of the citizens directly making laws.
    Representative democracy often employs political parties to form ideological divisions amongst the elected representatives.
    This improves the ease at which people can choose their representatives, since parties will have their own manifestos in which they will declare their aims and ideologies.
    Representative democracy is considered better than Direct democracy since it allows for people to choose experts who will be able to create more nuanced policies which might be beyond the ability of a common man.
    Representative democracy is the only feasible form of democracy in countries which have a large population such as US or India.