What are liquid, direct and representative democracy?

Direct democracy is when every citizen can vote on each issue directly, this allows people an equal voice, independent of whom they are. Direct democracy has a number of drawbacks. Firstly many people don’t have the time or energy to continuously vote on single policy issues, also many people don’t feel informed enough to take the decisions, meaning they may not vote, this means that voting can become a privilege of those with free-time and confidence in their knowledge. The Second problem is that where direct democracy and popular assemblies can work well in smaller and less complex communities, such as in ancient Athens, modern nation states are incredibly complex.

Representative Democracy has been the answer to the problems of direct democracy. People relinquish their vote to specific individuals, through elections, who represent them on the national stage. There are many problems with a representative democracy, as we can see here in the UK, those politicians who act as chosen representatives won’t necessarily vote with their constituents on specific [and even more general] issues, they certainly are unlikely to be able to vote with each individual constituent as large scale consensus is near enough impossible. What’s more, politicians can become bogged down in partisan politics, corrupted by power and divided and detached from the people they are representing. Additionally, this can lead to apathy on the part of the electorate.

Liquid Democracy is a combination of both.  In a liquid democracy people can vote on specific issues [direct democracy] as well as delegating their vote to an individual that represents them [representative democracy]. In a liquid democracy, politicians [optional] would also be able to delegate their vote to others, perhaps based on expertise levels. This is an issue by issue choice that individuals can make, so they do not need to vote directly on every issue simply because on one issue they felt they did not want to delegate their vote. Liquid democracy also involves a much richer system of communication and feedback between politicians and citizens, encouraging dialogue and trust. There are a number of possible issues with liquid democracy, a few; being the increased complexity of voting system that would need to be fairly technology reliant; limited engagement from the electorate on specific issues, which might limit any increase in real democracy; and also that it has never been tried on a large scale, so many issues remain unforeseen and unforeseeable.


4 replies on “What are liquid, direct and representative democracy?”

  1. Thank you for the informative piece.
    Is that a typo six lines up from bottom, when you say ‘issues with *direct* democracy’ in the liquid democracy section?

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