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"Rule of the majority" is commonly referred to as democracy. John Locke wrote: “There is no practical alternative to majority political rule – i.e., to taking the consent of the majority as the act of the whole and binding every individual. It would be next to impossible to obtain the consent of every individual before acting collectively ... No rational people could desire and constitute a society that had to dissolve straightaway because the majority was unable to make the final decision and the society was incapable of acting as one body."
Democracy is a system of processing conflicts in which outcomes depend on what participants do, but no single force controls what occurs and its outcomes. The uncertainty of outcomes is inherent in democracy. Democracy makes all forces struggle repeatedly to realize their interests and devolves power from groups of people to sets of rules.
According to American political scientist
The term appeared in the 5th century BC to denote the political systems then existing in
Democracy contrasts with forms of government where power is either held by an individual, as in an
No consensus exists on how to define democracy, but
One theory holds that democracy requires three fundamental principles: upward control (sovereignty residing at the lowest levels of authority), political equality, and social norms by which individuals and institutions only consider acceptable acts that reflect the first two principles of upward control and political equality.
The term "democracy" is sometimes used as shorthand for
In some countries, notably in the
It has also been suggested that a basic feature of democracy is the capacity of all voters to participate freely and fully in the life of their society. With its emphasis on notions of
While representative democracy is sometimes equated with the republican form of government, the term "