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Though the term "democracy" is typically used in the context of a political state, the principles are also applicable to private organizations and other groups.

A democratic system is where the function of government is carried out by the governed people or by people appointed by them. The term was used to describe the state of government In Athens after the uprising of 508BC however of the 250,000 inhabitants only some 30,000 on average were considered citizens.

Of those 30,000 perhaps 5,000 might regularly attend one or more meetings of the popular Assembly. Most of the officers and magistrates of Athenian government were allotted; only the generals and a few other officers were elected.

Although in a democracy equality and liberty are said to be primary principles by most, it must be clear that the holding of free elections does not automatically bring about either equality or liberty in a society. So to say that because a state holds a free election it is democratic could be seen as wrong, unless one accepts that democracy is not about equality or liberty. Given that both Athens, the USA and some other countries have seen themselves as democratic, even at times when slavery was legal, it would seem best to say that democracy simply means free elections.

An essential process in representative democracies is well informed citizens voting in competitive elections, that are fair both substantively and procedurally.

However, if any democracy is not carefully legislated to avoid an uneven distribution of political power with balances, such as the separation of powers, then a branch of the system of rule could accumulate power and become harmful to the democracy itself.

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The Six Nations: Oldest Living Participatory Democracy on Earth

Subpages (1): Elections