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Democracy (from the ancient Greek term "rule of the people") refers to a system of government in which all citizens have a say in the affairs of state. The usual manner of implementation is by casting votes.

Democratic rule has emerged in several instances, several Native American cultures were democratic in the way they operated as were several classical Mediterranean civilizations while democratic policies had been used on a small scale in certain situations (such as trade guilds electing leaders). In the case of Europe these traditions fell out of favor and were superseded by Feudalism in Europe during the Dark Ages but these traditions eventually re-emerged due to various power conflicts between nobility and monarchs, the rise of prominent non-landowning merchant classes, a renewed interest in the classical world, and the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment. At first, voting rights were limited to wealthy male property owners, then were gradually extended to non-property-owners and (thanks to the efforts of Feminists), women.

Types of Democratic Government

  • Direct Democracy: Direct Democracy involves having each citizen voting directly on certain issues. This form of democracy generally faces some logistical concerns that makes it nonviable for large scale political entities such as nations. Though many nations do employ referendums for certain issues.
  • Representative Democracy: Representative Democracy involves the population voting for individuals to serve as leaders for fixed periods of time.
  • Republic: A republic can a take a variety of forms but usually involve a Legislative body that serves as the main ruling body. It can have a Executive leader serving as overall director but the law makers do most of the decision-making of the government.

Democracies in Science Fiction

  • Before the rise of the Galactic Empire, the Star Wars galaxy was mostly governed by the Galactic Republic. Representatives to the Galactic Senate were apparently appointed by their home world governments (example: Padmé Amidala was appointed by the reigning Queen of Naboo). Some worlds apparently do have elected governments (example: the Monarch of Naboo is an elected position, despite the title), but others may not.
  • Governance in Star Trek is unclear. The planet Bajor is clearly described as having elected officials, but we have no specific evidence of elections or other democratic institutions operating on Earth or other Federation planets.
  • The Earth Alliance of Babylon 5 has an elected government, with an elected President and Senate. An election took place in 2258 in which Luis Santiago was re-elected President. Earth Alliance citizens on the Babylon 5 station (and presumably on Earth's colonies and at other outposts) participated in the election.
  • The Asari Republics of Mass Effect are described as an "electronic democracy" in which all citizens can participate in some level of government decision-making via the Extranet.