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'democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…’

Winston S. Churchill

Basic Information

Democracy is a form of government. In it, the act of governing is done either directly by the people of the nation, or by representatives elected by the people.

Of course, democracy covers a multitude of sins and who has the franchise and how much their vote counts for are all important - communists, for example, would insist that "the dictatorship of the proletariat" represents the purist form of democracy, whilst a national socialist would say the same of the incorporate nation. This sort of thing explains why nations that are quite clearly totalitarian states can call themselves democratic with a straight face. Who constitutes the demos and how that kras is wielded by them (or at least on their behalf) is all important. Elections, for example, are not necessarily a sign of a democracy but equally it is entirely possible to run an elective democracy without (official) grouping of representatives into political parties.

Some positions hold that a degree of restraint on the powers of "the people" is a requirement for a true democracy as opposed to ochlocracy (mob rule) - the ur example probably being that the facility for 51% of the population to vote the other 49% out of existence is not a reasonable way to organise a state (although cynics would tend to suggest that everything else is just haggling over percentages).

Democracy should also be distinguished from demarchy - which is arguably a sub-type of the whole - in which matters are decided by a group of franchise holders selected by lot.

Forms of Democracy



Game and Story Use

  • In a democracy when the PCs want to establish or overturn a specific law they don't just have to convince the local ruler, but also the population itself as well. This may make things more challenging, but also more fun - encourage the PCs to come up with speeches, publicity stunts, and media campaigns to convince the fickle public.
    • Or, if sufficiently powerful, subvert the ruling class and force the change through irrespective of the wishes of the electorate. A surprising number of otherwise functional democracies have a code of laws that both excludes many things desired by the electorate and includes things they never desired nor asked for. Some of these are based on consensus opinion by the ruling class, some on corruption (or at least intense lobbying) by specific interests, and some on pure stupidity and other factors. These can be given a veneer of respectability by quietly stapling them to something the electorate does support as a sort of malign "gift with purchase" or simply enforced - especially if enough of the political class desire them that the electorate is given no functional alternative.
  • Modelling each individual voter is likely a headache and a half, unless the community is small enough to personally meet every NPC. Instead, consider breaking it into groups which each return some fraction of the vote, and working out how to convince them. These groups shouldn't add up to 100%, unless the entire population is single-issue voters or blind partisans; one person can be simultaneously rural, rich, and knee-jerk opposed to anything the Very Silly Party supports.
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