We live in a democratic society where people can change institutions and government for the better. But we also face problems like poverty, hunger, environmental degradation, and political turmoil. The level to which people can participate actively in the decisions that impact them is known as their democratic engagement. This process of political decision-making by popular initiative is known as participative democracy. It differs from the top-down form of democracy in that it does not have any inherent structure or mechanism by which checks and balances are maintained.
There is no single institution that is recognized as the defining feature of democracy; rather, all of the many definitions of democracy agree on some basic features that allow citizens to participate in a political system. In a democratic polity, there is first elected a general assembly of members. This assembly consists of a president, a prime minister, a cabinet, members of the lower house and the Senate, and local leaders. A president has the executive power, while a prime minister has the power only to make laws, not to dissolve the parliament or the national administration.
All these share some attributes, though each one has some shortcomings as well. Under theocratic democracy, there is usually an establishment of a legislature which makes laws and enacts policy. In this type of government, the ruling party retains its majority and the opposition parties have little chance of winning control over the legislature. There is a separation of powers between the courts and the legislature, so that the courts cannot review the policies of the legislature. This is one reason why many modern nations have adopted checks and balances to prevent too much interference by the courts in politics.
In a multiparty democracy, one party rules and the other representatives do not. It is the duty of the representatives to suggest legislation, but if their suggestions are unacceptable to the other political parties, they have to get the support of others in order for their proposals to be adopted. The checks and balances feature is missing in a multiparty system. In a pure democracy, different representatives may decide to adopt different measures and the people would not have any say in the political decisions. A representative has to cater to the interests of the whomever he is supposed to represent, rather than the needs of the general public.
Checks and balances prevent the elected officials from making bad decisions and giving the general public the wrong impression. In addition, in a multiparty system there is no guarantee that new laws would not increase taxes or spending, which could lead to a balance of wealth and resources. A democratic consolidation also involves more checks and balances than a direct democracy, since there are more bodies that need to approve a decision. For example, in a constitutional system, the formulation of new laws requires the approval of a majority of parliamentarians, not just the king, queen, the prime minister or representatives of various groups.
The multipart form of representative democracy involves an extra level of checks and balances beyond what is observed in the representative system. Multiparty systems require some type of constitutional amendments coupled with indirect or direct legislation. These amendments allow for changes in the constitution that allow for representatives to make laws that are subject to approval by a supermajority of parliamentarians. As a result, representatives to different levels of government cannot make laws that are inconsistent with the constitution, except in cases where they can garner support from a governing party.