Republic Vs Democracy: Key Difference

The key difference between a Republic versus Democracy is the protection of certain inalienable rights granted in a republic, such as the right to bear arms in the United States. This inalienable right cannot be taken away by elected officials, whereas in a true democracy the elected party and government is not restricted by any inalienable rights.

The terms republic and democracy are often times thrown around and used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same. While the two terms can mean something similar, there is a distinction between them. To learn all about the differences between a republic vs. democracy check out this guide.

Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Definitions

Image source: Apple

Before we delve into the similarities and the differences between republics versus democracies we need to define what each actually is.

Democracy

The definition of democracy (as defined by Dictionary.com, found here) is: “government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system”.

So what does that mean in more broader terms? In a democracy, people get to choose who they put in the government but the majority is who makes the rules and the minority have absolutely no say. This is often times referred to as “the people’s system”.

Republic

The definition of a republic (as defined by Dictionary.com, found here) is: “a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.”

In broader terms, a democracy is a style of government where a head of state is elected (with term limits) and representatives are elected. In this type of government, the majority still determines the rules, but the minority still have a say.

Differences between a Democracy and a Republic

Image source: Difference Wiki

While they may seem very similar, democracies and republics are very different beasts. Let’s look at them:

 DifferencesRepublicDemocracy
Who is in charge?The majority, the minority has no sayMajority, but the minority has a say
Who rules the government?MajorityThe majority as well as the constitution
Important elementsCalled the “people’s system”, has free elections where people decide who to put into office. Also, have “free elections” where everyone can vote.The people still vote and have elections, but the minority is protected by rules so they still have a say. A head of state is also elected.
PhilosophyEveryone has a say and can vote, then majority rule in congress then enforces what they ran on.Eligible people get a vote but are always protected by a constitution or laws, so the majority cannot impose laws that affect the country

 

SimilaritiesDemocracyRepublic
How to change laws and rules?VotingVoting
Social class structureDetermined by a capitalist society that varies by state.Determined by a capitalist society that varies by state.
Economy systemTypically is a capitalist societyTypically is a capitalist society

Pros and Cons

Each of these systems has a few pros and cons associated with them.Let’s go over them:

Democracy pros and cons

  • Pros of a democracy
    • Typically is considered a fairer system where everyone has a say, not just those deemed as eligible
    • Democracies usually have less corruption since electives really only stay for 1 term
    • More people participate in democracies and those people often feel a sense of belonging since their vote fully counts
    • Democracies don’t go to war as often since the government is truly for the people and the people have a say in war discussions
  • Cons of a democracy
    • Representatives are often not lifelong politicians since they serve for about 5 years and getting reelected is no guarantee (a con depending on who you ask, could be a pro to some)
    • Not everyone gets a say since minority is ignored
    • Even if an election comes down to a majority of 51% and a minority of 49% the majority still has rule even though the minority consisted of a large number of votes
    • Democracies often force people to vote selfishly over the needs of the group as a whole
    • Just like in most elections, many representatives do not always do what they say they will (also lends to 1 term representatives)
    • If someone or a group of people vote negligently the entire country suffers for the term of that elected official

Republic pros and cons

  • Pros for a Republic
    • It is a very efficient system since it is governed by the law and the representatives answer to those that they represent
      • We aren’t required to vote on laws since we chose our officials who vote for us
    • Republics are very well balanced since the minority actually has a say since the law favors both the majority and minority
    • Typically well structured and stable
  • Cons of a Republic
    • It takes a while to agree on laws and is often drawn out over time
    • The representatives may not vote how they said they would and it can greatly affect their constituents
    • Some people feel their vote may not matter (like the electoral college voting, as an example)

Countries

Now let’s take a look at different countries that are either Republics or Democracies:

Republic Countries (in alphabetical order)

  • Afghanistan
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Arab Republic of Egypt
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bangladesh
  • Bolivia
  • Bulgaria
  • Burkina Faso
  • Central African Republic
  • Chili
  • Commonwealth of Dominica
  • Co-operative Republic of Guyana
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Dominican Republic
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • East Timor
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • Finland
  • France
  • Gabonese Republic
  • Georgia
  • Ghana
  • Goust
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • Hellenic Republic
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • Islamic Republic of Mauritania
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Kyrgyz Republic
  • Mongolia
  • Most Serene Republic of San Marino
  • Oriental Republic of Uruguay
  • People’s Republic of Bangladesh
  • People’s Republic of China
  • Plurinational State of Bolivia
  • Portuguese Republic
  • Republic of Acre
  • Republic of Djibouti
  • Republic of Benin
  • Republic of Botswana
  • Republic of Burundi
  • Republic of Cameroon
  • Republic of Cape Verde
  • Republic of Chad
  • Republic of Colombia
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Republic of Equatorial Guinea
  • Republic of Estonia
  • Republic of the Fiji Islands
  • Republic of Finland
  • Republic of Formosa
  • Republic of the Gambia
  • Republic of Ghana
  • Republic of Guinea-Bissau
  • Republic of Iraq
  • Republic of Ivory Coast
  • Republic of Kazakhstan
  • Republic of Kenya
  • Republic of Kiribati
  • Republic of Korea
  • Republic of Latvia
  • Republic of Lebanon
  • Republic of Liberia
  • Republic of Lithuania
  • Republic of Macedonia
  • Republic of Madagascar
  • Republic of Malaŵi
  • Republic of Maldives
  • Republic of Mali
  • Republic of Malta
  • Republic of the Marshall Islands
  • Republic of Mauritius
  • Republic of Moldova
  • Republic of Montenegro
  • Republic of Mozambique
  • Republic of Namibia
  • Republic of Nauru
  • Republic of Nicaragua
  • Republic of Niger
  • Republic of Palau
  • Republic of Panama
  • Republic of Paraguay
  • Republic of Peru
  • Republic of Poland
  • Republic of Rwanda
  • Republic of Senegal
  • Republic of Serbia
  • Republic of Seychelles
  • Republic of Sierra Leone
  • Republic of Singapore
  • Republic of Slovenia
  • Republic of Somalia
  • Republic of South Africa
  • Republic of Suriname
  • Republic of Tajikistan
  • Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
  • Republic of Turkey
  • Republic of Turkmenistan
  • Republic of Uganda
  • Republic of Uzbekistan
  • Republic of Vanuatu
  • Republic of West Florida
  • Republic of Yemen
  • Republic of Zambia
  • Romania
  • Samoa
  • Socialist Republic of Vietnam
  • State of Eritrea
  • Syrian Arab Republic
  • Togolese Republic
  • Tunisian Republic
  • Ukraine
  • Union of Myanmar
  • United Kingdom
  • United Republic of Tanzania

Democratic countries (in alphabetical order):

  • Norway
  • Iceland
  • Sweden
  • New Zealand
  • Denmark
  • Switzerland
  • Canada
  • Finland
  • Australia
  • Netherlands
  • Luxembourg
  • Ireland
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Malta
  • UK
  • Spain
  • Mauritius
  • Uruguay
  • USA
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3 Comments

  • The United States of America is a Republic utilizing some democratic principles. Please tell me you are not a college professor or high school civics teaher.

  • I believe that the labels of Republic and Democracy under differences have been reversed. The article also states the opposite of what is listed in the differences chart.

  • The US was designed and set by its Founding Fathers as a republic. The article also forget the Philippines has been a Republic all throughout its existence from the first national government, the second government after being a commonwealth, the third republic during the 70s and the fourth republic after 1986. I also think your table 1 got mixed up. I live in a republic and I have growing up sworn to uphold the constitution and the laws of land as the determinant of final direction as such the Supreme Court has the final say in direction of particularly controversial policies.

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