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Republic vs. Democracy - What's the Difference?

Anup Patwardhan May 10, 2019
Most of the nations around the world have a form of governance that is either democratic or republic. Both forms are quite distinct from one another. Let's take a look at various differences between a republic and a democracy.
"A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men."― Henry David Thoreau
There are around 195 countries in the world and each of them has some form of governance or the other. Democracy and republic are the two models of governance that have been adopted by most nations around the world. However, not only are these two models distinct from one another, the governments formed are also different in each of them.
A democratic form of government was the one that Greeks had, whereas the republican style of governance can be found today in the U.S. Given here are the various differences that exist between a republic and a democracy.


A democracy is said to be a government of the people, by the people, for the people. The origins of democracy can be traced back to the political system that prevailed in Athens, Greece, in the 6th century BCE.
As it states in the principle of democracy, the government is elected by the popular choice of people from the candidates whom they may have directly or indirectly chosen. The functioning of such a government is, by and large, then concerned with the majority that got them elected.


In a democracy, the sovereignty is held by the majority, as a group. They have the ability to approve or dispose off any laws by the means of a referendum. The laws are regulated by the masses. Thus, establishing the rule of a majority, which can easily be related to mobcracy.


Political control by a mob is known as mobcracy. Such a mob has the right and an ability to choose inefficient government over a productive one. An inactive government will implement policies that can empower it to increase taxation as well as its potential to disperse funds to stay in power.
Citizens tend to bring into power the authorities that promise them the most out of the public treasury. The progress of a nation governed by such a government will be stunted, which will lead to reduced productivity. There is nothing as a considerable minority as the 51-49 rule is followed, where the '51' forms the majority, while the rest form minority.
At times, even one vote above 50% is considered as majority, and such a majority can impose their will on the rest of the 'minority'. It is a popular opinion that a democracy will bring about its own downfall and as rule, will be followed by a dictatorship.


A republic, on the other hand, is a rule by the law where the government is only representative and is obligated to govern according to the constitution. Today, this is the form of governance that has been adopted by a majority of nations. Its roots lie in the governance methods of the Roman empire in the 5th century BCE.


The sovereignty, in a republic, lies with every individual. The constitution acknowledges some of the rights of every individual, even of a minority, as inalienable despite the opinion of the majority.
Rule making is not just a question of popularity, but laws need approval from various authorities that include, but are not limited to, a jury, the supreme court, executive of the state (a president or a governor), and the senate.


The people choose a representative to any public office if they think that the candidate is the right person for the job. A republic can cover a large number of citizens and a larger extent of territory under its authority. In this case, there is no mobcracy, and the majority cannot simply overrule the minority.
There are certain limitations to the government against popular public opinion or demand, but these limitations are not applicable for certain rights of the minorities that they cannot be deprived of. It is a common consideration that a republic governance can take a nation on the path of progress and development.
In America, a republic nation, if someone is convicted by a hundred percent jury, then his rights for being a part of the republic can be revoked, and he is treated by the same standards of democracy.
India is a democracy which also has adopted a constitution, whereas, the United States, to begin with, is a republic with a constitution that has later adopted democracy. While the Athenian democracy is an example of pure democracy.