Democracy is a system of government by the whole population or all the suitable members of a state, normally through chosen representatives. It takes in social, economic and cultural circumstances that allow the free and equal practice of political self-determination. Democracy differs with forms of government where power is either held by one person, as in a monarchy, or where power is held by a small number of individuals, as in an oligarchy.
More than a few variants of democracy exist, but there are two basic forms, both of which concern how the whole body of all qualified citizens executes its will. One form is direct democracy in which all qualified citizens have active and direct participation in the decision making of the government. In nearly all modern democracies, the whole body of all entitled citizens remains the sovereign power but political power is exercised indirectly through elected representatives; this is called representative democracy.
The concept of representative democracy came up mainly from ideas and institutions that developed during the European Middle Ages, the Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, and the American and French Revolutions.