Ruling of government by the people, through the recognition of the people as the source of legitimate political power, provision of equal rights and liberties for citizens and people participating in the resolution of state affairs. Generally in the modern nation-state, forms of democracy are representational either through a single dual or multi-party system.
The meaning of 'democracy' has become diffuse as it has been coopted to various interests and coloured in different shades. For instance, the definition of democracy was different in Hellenic terms from that in socialist or market ideologies. For Aristotle, democracy was hardly the most desirable form of government, but it has become the preferred term to describe optimum political and societal life by two opposed ideologies, free-market capitalism, and centrally-planned communism. In both cases it was even used as synonomous with "freedom". Other forms of democracy exist in some constitutional monarchies and tribal societies. The only criterion left for the word to have some semblance of meaning is when it appears that part of the population constitutes an electorate for some of the offices of government. A debate within the United Nations system on the meaning of 'democracy' was abandoned.
The Greeks between the 8th and 3rd centuries BC practised forms of direct participation in state affairs by citizens, however, they excluded women, foreigners and slaves. Some Swiss cantons, New England town meetings, some small Italian states and early Germany and Russia tribal and prehistoric communities practised modified or limited democracy.
My notion of democracy is that under it the weakest shall have the same opportunities as the strongest...no country in the world today show any but patronizing regard for the weak...Western democracy, as it functions today, is diluted fascism...true democracy cannot be worked by twenty men sitting at the center. It has to be worked from below, by the people of every village (Gandhi).
1. Few examples of pure or direct democracy exist, and none of these have functioned in large nation-states.