Case Study

Robert Dahl’s 7 criteria for a democracy

  1. Control over politicians after election.
  2. Free and fair elections.
  3. Universal adult suffrage.
  4. Right to run for public office.
  5. Freedom of expression.
  6. Access to non-governmental sources of information.
  7. Freedom of association.

Reflective Question: Are you a representative or popular democrat (if a democrat at all)?

List any issues which in your country you imagine could command popular support in a referendum but which you personally would not support (for example on whether or not to have the death penalty for murder). Would you: (a) accept these decisions being implemented for your country despite them being against your own views, or (b) consider that some issues cannot be accepted as legitimate, even if they do have popular support because they are not in the interests of ‘the people’.

If you have answered (a) you appear to support popular democracy. If you have answered (b) you appear to prefer representative forms of democracy (or, possibly, do not support democracy at all).