Criticisms of Democracy: 6 Major Criticisms of a Democratic System

If you have been searching the internet to find out what the criticisms of democracy are, you are in the right place. As we continue, i will point out some of the reasons why many political scholars kick against democracy as a system of government. 

It is truism that democracy is actually the best and most suitable system of government for every state. With all the advantages and transparency this system of government ensures, it is possible to think that a democratic government is a government without any problem or possible criticism, but that is absolutely false.

Yes! I do agree with the fact that democracy is one of the most practiced government system, but it is not true that democracy is without any fault, neither is it true that democracy is absolutely the best system of government for every country.

In my article on the “Features of democracy“, I noted that the type of government system that is suitable for any country actually depends on the norms and beliefs of the people in that country.

Well, that is not the topic for today. In this article, we will be looking at the criticisms of democracy. In other words, I will explicitly explain why some political scientists argue against democracy. I enjoin you to keep reading this work painstakingly as i tide you over.

Before we move to the crux of this work, i would like to, first of all, define what democracy is. Doing this will go a long way to help you understand the arguments and criticisms of democracy when I explain them.

problems of democracy and criticisms of a democratic government
problems of democracy and criticisms of a democratic government

What is democracy?

The Oxford Learned Dictionary defines democracy as a political system that allows the citizens to participate in political decision‐making, or to elect representatives to government bodies. A more comprehensive definition of democracy has been given by Wikipedia. It postulates that democracy is a form of government in which the people exercise the authority of government either directly or through representatives appointed by them.

This definition suggests that there are actually two types of democracy. The direct and indirect democracy. I enjoin you to read my article on the pillars of democracy for more detailed information about democracy. Now that you have an understanding of what democracy it, lets not see the problems associated with the practice of democracy.


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Criticisms of Democracy

Below are the criticisms of a democratic system of government:

1. Imposition of election candidates:

A critical analysis of democracy in practice has shown that there is actually no free choice of leadership, but the imposition of leaders from different political parties. This is so because, democracy is usually practiced with either a two or a multi party system. Consequently, the people can only choose their leaders from those that are mad available to them. They is no actual freedom to elect anyone into political offices to leader the people.

This can be clearly seen in the United States. The United States has only two major political parties: the Democrats and the Republicans. Thus, the people only have two leaders from which they can elect. Those who have other choices may have to reshape their dreams and aspirations to fit any of the two politial parties above instead of elect someone that really wants to represent their interests. This is why democracy in the practical sense, is seen as the imposition of leader rather than the freedom to choose any leader.

Not only in the United States does this happen. There are many other democratic countries where leaders are imposed on the people through political parties.

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2. It encourages party politics:

One of the criticisms of democracy is that it encourages party politics. This is so because, in a democratic state, there are usually many political parties trying to win elections and take over the government at the same time.

Consequently, political parties do everything within their power to make sure that they win their elections; with the expectation that when their candidate assumes office, the political party will benefit. Thus elected officials often uphold the interest and directives of their political parties rather than the interest and welfare of the people.

This is equally one of the problems and criticisms of democracy and it can been seen in almost every country practising democracy today.

3. Power struggle:

In a democratic state, there are many political parties struggling to contest election and take over the government. Most times, these political parties play extremely dirty games to win their elections.

This argument has be corroborated by a professor of law in the University of Lagos (Ese Malemi), who argued that democracy with the various political parties campaigning for votes of the people in order to form the government is competitive and may make some parties resort to thuggery, arson and rigging in order to win elections. No doubt, power struggle is one of the major problems or criticisms of democracy.

4. Corruption and dirty politics:

Even after having all the political principles that can stop any possible form of corruption, democracy still criticize for high rate of corruption. This is due to the struggle to take of political powers of the state. Many scholars are of the view that the lobby, possible corruption, violence and dirty politics that may characterise party politics in a democracy, scares away intelligent, responsible, honest and well meaning persons from politics, while giving room for charlatans, dishonest, greedy, unprogressive, and visionless person to take over, plunder national resources and set the state adrift.

In Nigeria for instance, there is the belief that politics is a dirty game. What this means is that politics is a place for people who obviously want to soil their hands in evil. For this reason, people who actually have the leadership skills it take to lead, don’t go into politics anymore. They leave politics for corrupt and evil people. Indeed, it is also one of the major criticisms of democracy.

More so, it is submitted that since democracy involves dialogue, persuasion, compromise, concession, that is, give and take, lobby and co-operation, it may engender corruption in the system.

5. It is expensive:

Democracy has also been criticized because it is very expensive to run a democratic government. This is one of the reasons why most of the developing countries that claim to be practicing democracy are not getting it right.

First and foremost, it is pertinent to note that democracy as a system of government that involves a lot of people and structures, which are expensive to maintain. Take for instance, the cost of conducting an election in a democratic state is very expensive. Aside from that, the election must be conducted regularly; which means that the country will spend a lot of money anytime an election is conducted in the country.

If unwittingly the electoral process is monetized, politics then means money, more money and much more money. This creates a cache and carry politics, where only the rich can stand for the expensive elections, which turn out to be the, mere selection rather than election.

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6. Slow decision making:

If you read my last article on the features of democracy, you will find out that, in a democratic state, there is usually a rigid constitution which is very difficult to ammend. Coupled with that, democracy actually support the principle of separation of power between the organs of government. Now, in a country where there is separation of powers and a rigid constitution, there is usually slow decision making and that is a very big problem, especially in time of emergency.

In light of the above, many scholars argue that democracy is a large and unwieldy government, which is slow in taking decision and slow in implementing actions and so forth. This is indeed a major criticisms of the system.



Yeah! So far, i have pointed out some of the problems and criticisms of democracy. It is evident that most of the countries that practice democracy in the world today actually have some of the problems I just explained. In Nigeria for instance, there is the problem of marginalization, serious power struggle and even corruption. All these are the problems the country face because it practices democracy.

In more advanced country like US, Canada etc, some of these criticisms of democracy are also evident. So you see, democracy is not without its own defects. Meanwhile, if you have any question or contribution to make to this topic, i would like to hear from you! Tell me what you really think about democracy.

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