Difference Between Participatory Democracy and Representative Democracy

Democracy is the form of government that has been accepted widely across the globe due to its open and transparent running of the system.


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They have got their differences in terms of governing and maintenance of the governing bodies. 

Participatory Democracy vs Representative Democracy

The difference between participatory democracy and representative democracy is that while in a participatory form of government, all the people of the concerned nation who are eligible and are of age can participate in all decision-making processes that might affect the whole country. Representative democracy gets the people to vote for their representatives and lead the system for the people. 

Participatory Democracy vs Representative Democracy

It gains popularity in a nation with a limited area and a rather small population as in such countries the probability of disparities arising among people reduces. The name itself describes its designated role in the running of the country. 

Representative democracy is the most common form of democracy followed worldwide. Most countries prefer this form of democracy as it is hassle-free and provides an easier governing method.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonParticipatory DemocracyRepresentative Democracy  
Presence of ReferendumNoYes
Success RateVery lowUsually high
Direct Citizen ParticipationYesNo, through elected representatives  
Probability of All the People’s Demands Being HeardVery lessTo some extent, the demands will be heard
Is Present in the OtherIs usually seen in representative democracyNot commonly seen in participatory democracy

What is Participatory Democracy? 

Participatory democracies are more commonly referred to as direct democracy. 

This name confers to the fact that all citizens of the nation are considered eligible to voice their opinions in matters of the national governing body. 

All the people need to be willing to participate in the decision-making process irrespective of their gains and think about national prosperity. 

Due to this nature of participatory democracy, it can be said that such a democratic rule would be pretty difficult to maintain and manage the people’s interests. 

Participatory democracy gives the citizens a chance to decide on the issues persisting in individual areas and focus upon it instead of having a single law followed by all. 

What is Representative Democracy? 

The common democratic face is the representative democracy. 

Here, the representatives are elected to power by the citizens of the country. 

The elected representatives talk and act based on the interest of their people, therefore, reducing confusion. 

This means that instead of the whole nation is in a position of power, the power of the people is given to a few individuals that the people choose.  

Each ward elects its representative who is the face of the whole constituency through whom the interest of the people is expressed at higher levels of the governing body. 

Main Differences Between Participatory Democracy and Representative Democracy

  1. Participatory democracy leads to fewer chances of issues arising in communities as the people alone get to choose their way of running as a unit but representative democracy has got a setback in this case as whatever the elected representatives decide is the final word but the people can oppose it if they want to. 
  2. In a representative democracy, if the requests from people are widely promoted with strokes and rallies, the government is obliged to bend to their needs, but due to direct citizen participation in a participatory democracy, such needs don’t arise. 


  1. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s002679900074.pdf
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=9iWxeJ9knnwC&oi=fnd&pg=PR3&dq=representative+democracy+&ots=BiTgq8pkTl&sig=TVvfkHiVetUWkFeIht3nU5m33sk
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