For this reason, representative democracy is also sometimes known as elective democracy or indirect democracy. Great Britain or the United Kingdom (UK), to use its more modern name, is the mother of present-day representative democracy. Democracy here followed a topsy turvy route involving a prolonged peoples struggle against the monarchy, eventually leading to the well-known Westminster Parliamentary Democracy. Representative or elective democracy is now the universal norm, though it may exist in different forms viz.
Parliamentary or Presidential (India is an example of the former while the USA is an illustration of the latter). Thus, looking into the history of democracy, we find that it has travelled a long way from the direct democracy of ancient Greece to the present day representative democracy of the United Kingdom and other countries. However, all through it has implied popular and political participation in the affairs of the state with political participation being based on the elective principle (after the coming into being of representative or indirect democracy); and also on liberty and equality of citizens. Broadly, one has the Liberal and the Marxist perspectives to contend with and their various offshoots/ variations. The Liberal perspective lays more emphasis (this is in fact a point of criticism by the Marxists) on political equality, while the Marxist perspective stresses socio-economic equality. The Liberals and the Marxists have always had diametrically opposite views on what democracy is.
The liberal version of democracy with its concomitant of adult franchise, periodic elections, individual autonomy, rule of law and equality before law is contemptuously dismissed by followers of Karl Marx as a ‘bourgeois’ phenomenon. The Liberals, on the other hand, dismiss democracy practised in countries such as the Peoples’ Republic of China and the erstwhile Soviet Union as a sham (false) democracy. What should matter is the knowledge that there are different perspectives on democracy.
Also, the fact that though there arc wide divergences between the two perspectives, there is some meeting ground between the two. This brings us to the generally accepted (consensual) meaning of democracy. Despite certain differences between liberalism, Marxism and their various offspring’s on the meaning of democracy, both are in agreement on the following: i. Popular and political participation in Statecraft; ii.
Equality among citizens. Liberty too figures here, though the Marxists have a very different view of it. In fact, as you might have gathered from the preceding sub-section, the differences between Liberalism and Marxism actually stem from the points of agreement, given above. That is, the Liberals and the Marxists differ on the nature and extent of popular and political participation and as already mentioned, on the notions of equality and liberty.
Be that as it may. One can keep the following formulation in mind whenever one studies about democracy, viz. Democracy = Popular and Political Participation in Statecraft + Equality among Citizens + Liberty Democratic process or alternately, the working of democracy in any country entails a consideration of those state and non-state actors that concern themselves with the issues of popular and political participation, equality and liberty (our framework of democracy).
Having said this under the category of institutions, one can include the organs of government (a democratic one of course), the election machinery and local self-governing institutions (Panchayati Raj, for instance). The non-state category essentially comprises the civil society, which in turn, comprises pressure groups and lobbies, NGOs and people’s movements.