|Part of the Politics series|
|Basic forms of government|
Direct democracy (also known as pure democracy) is a form of democracy in which people decide (e.g. vote on, form consensus on) policy initiatives directly. This differs from the majority of modern Western-style democracies, which are indirect democracies.
- Related democratic processes 1
- History 2
- Ancient Athens 3.1
- Switzerland 3.2
- United States 3.3
- Democratic reform trilemma 4
- Electronic direct democracy 5
- Relation to other movements 6
- In schools 7
- Contemporary movements 8
- See also 9
- Notes and references 10
- Bibliography 11
- Further reading 12
External links 13
- Multimedia 13.1
Related democratic processes
Direct democracy is similar to, but distinct from, representative democracy in which people vote for representatives who then enact policy initiatives.
Depending on the particular system in use, direct democracy might entail passing executive decisions, the use of sortition, making laws, directly electing or dismissing officials and conducting trials. Two leading forms of direct democracy are participatory democracy and deliberative democracy.
Most countries that are representative democracies allow for three forms of political action that provide limited direct democracy: referendum (plebiscite), initiative, and recall. The first two forms—referendums and initiatives—are examples of direct legislation.
Compulsory referendum subjects the legislation drafted by political elites to a binding popular vote. This is the most common form of direct legislation. Popular referendum (also known as abrogative or facultative) empowers citizens to make a petition that calls existing legislation to a citizens' vote. Institutions specify the time frame for a valid petition, the number of signatures required, and may require signatures from diverse communities to protect minority interests. This form of direct democracy effectively grants the voting public a veto on laws adopted by the elected legislature (one nation to use this system is Switzerland).
Power of Initiative allows members of the general public to propose specific statutory measures or constitutional reforms to the government, and as with referendums, the vote may be binding or simply advisory. Initiatives may be direct or indirect: With the direct initiative, a successful proposition is placed directly on the ballot to be subject to vote (as exemplified by California's system). With an indirect initiative, a successful proposition is first presented to the legislature for their consideration; however, if no acceptable action is taken after a designated period of time, the proposition moves to direct popular vote. Such a form of indirect initiative is utilized by Switzerland for constitutional amendments.
Power of Recall gives the public the power to remove elected officials from office before the end of their term, although this is very rare in modern democracies.
Some writers with anarchist sympathies have said direct democracy is opposed to a strong central authority, as decision making power can reside at only one level – the people themselves (through direct democracy) or the central authority. Some of the most important modern thinkers who were inspired by the concept of direct democracy are Cornelius Castoriadis, Hannah Arendt, and Pierre Clastres.
The earliest known direct democracy is said to be the Athenian democracy in the 5th century BC, although it was not an inclusive democracy: women, foreigners and slaves were excluded from it. The main bodies in the Athenian democracy were the assembly, composed of male citizens; the boulê, composed of 500 citizens; and the law courts, composed of a massive number of jurors chosen by lot, with no judges. There were only about 30,000 male citizens, but several thousand of them were politically active in each year, and many of them quite regularly for years on end. The Athenian democracy was direct not only in the sense that decisions were made by the assembled people, but also in the sense that the people through the assembly, boulê and law courts controlled the entire political process and a large proportion of citizens were involved constantly in the public business. Modern democracies, being representative, not direct, do not resemble the Athenian system.
Also relevant to the history of direct democracy is the history of Ancient Rome, specifically the Roman Republic, beginning around 509 BC. Rome displayed many aspects of democracy, both direct and indirect, from the era of Roman monarchy all the way to the collapse of the Roman Empire. Indeed, the Senate, formed in the first days of the city, lasted through the Kingdom, Republic, and Empire, and even continued after the decline of Western Rome; and its structure and regulations continue to influence legislative bodies worldwide. As to direct democracy, the ancient Roman Republic had a system of citizen lawmaking, or citizen formulation and passage of law, and a citizen veto of legislature-made law. Many historians mark the end of the Republic with the passage of a law named the Lex Titia, 27 November 43 BC.
Modern-era citizen lawmaking began in the towns of Switzerland in the 13th century. In 1847, the Swiss added the "statute referendum" to their national constitution. They soon discovered that merely having the power to veto Parliament's laws was not enough. In 1891, they added the "constitutional amendment initiative". Swiss politics since 1891 have given the world a valuable experience base with the national-level constitutional amendment initiative. In the past 120 years, more than 240 initiatives have been put to referendums. The populace has been conservative, approving only about 10% of these initiatives; in addition, they have often opted for a version of the initiative rewritten by government. (See Direct democracy in Switzerland below.)
Some of the issues surrounding the related notion of a direct democracy using the Internet and other communications technologies are dealt with in e-democracy and below under the term electronic direct democracy. More concisely, the concept of open source governance applies principles of the free software movement to the governance of people, allowing the entire populace to participate in government directly, as much or as little as they please.
Athenian democracy developed in the Greek city-state of Athens, comprising the city of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, around 500 BC. Athens was one of the very first known democracies. Other Greek cities set up democracies, and even though most followed an Athenian model, none were as powerful, stable, or well-documented as that of Athens. In the direct democracy of Athens, the citizens did not nominate representatives to vote on legislation and executive bills on their behalf (as in the United States) but instead voted as individuals. Participation was by no means open, but the in-group of participants was constituted with no reference to economic class and they participated on a big scale. The public opinion of voters was influenced by the political satire of the comic poets in the theatres.
Solon (594 BC), Cleisthenes (508-7 BC), and Ephialtes (462 BC) all contributed to the development of Athenian democracy. Historians differ on which of them was responsible for which institution, and which of them most represented a truly democratic movement. It is most usual to date Athenian democracy from Cleisthenes, since Solon's constitution fell and was replaced by the tyranny of Peisistratus, whereas Ephialtes revised Cleisthenes' constitution relatively peacefully. Hipparchus, the brother of the tyrant Hippias, was killed by Harmodius and Aristogeiton, who were subsequently honored by the Athenians for their alleged restoration of Athenian freedom.
The greatest and longest-lasting democratic leader was Pericles; after his death, Athenian democracy was twice briefly interrupted by oligarchic revolution towards the end of the Peloponnesian War. It was modified somewhat after it was restored under Eucleides; the most detailed accounts are of this 4th-century modification rather than of the Periclean system. It was suppressed by the Macedonians in 322 BC. The Athenian institutions were later revived, but the extent to which they were a real democracy is debatable.
The pure form of direct democracy only exists in the Swiss cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden and Glarus. The Swiss confederation is a semi-direct democracy (representative democracy with strong instruments of direct democracy). The nature of direct democracy in Switzerland is fundamentally complemented by its profound federal governmental structures (in German also called the Subsidiaritätsprinzip.)
Most western countries have representative systems. Switzerland is a rare example of a country with instruments of direct democracy (at the level of the municipalities, cantons and federal state). Citizens have more power than in a representative democracy. At the federal level, citizens can propose changes to the constitution (federal popular initiative) or ask for a referendum to be held on any law voted by the parliament. Swiss citizens vote regularly on any kind of issue on every political level, such as financial approvals of a school house or the building of a new street, or the change of the policy regarding sexual work, or on constitutional changes, or on the foreign policy of Switzerland, four times a year. Between January 1995 and June 2005, Swiss citizens voted 31 times, on 103 federal questions besides many more cantonal and municipal questions. During the same period, French citizens participated in only two referendums.
A double majority requires approval by a majority of individuals voting, and also by a majority of cantons. Thus in Switzerland a citizen-proposed amendment to the federal constitution (i.e. initiative) cannot be passed at the federal level if a majority of the people approve but a majority of the cantons disapprove. For referendums or propositions in general terms (like the principle of a general revision of the Constitution), a majority of those voting is sufficient (Swiss constitution, 2005).
In 1890, when the provisions for Swiss national citizen lawmaking were being debated by civil society and government, the Swiss adopted the idea of double majorities from the United States Congress, in which House votes were to represent the people and Senate votes were to represent the states. According to its supporters, this "legitimacy-rich" approach to national citizen lawmaking has been very successful. Kris Kobach claims that Switzerland has had tandem successes both socially and economically which are matched by only a few other nations. Kobach states at the end of his book, "Too often, observers deem Switzerland an oddity among political systems. It is more appropriate to regard it as a pioneer." Finally, the Swiss political system, including its direct democratic devices in a multi-level governance context, becomes increasingly interesting for scholars of European Union integration 
Direct democracy was not what the framers of the United States Constitution envisioned for the nation. They saw a danger in tyranny of the majority. As a result, they advocated a representative democracy in the form of a constitutional republic over a direct democracy. For example, James Madison, in Federalist No. 10 advocates a constitutional republic over direct democracy precisely to protect the individual from the will of the majority. He says,
Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government. [...] [A] pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party. Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.
John Witherspoon, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, said "Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state – it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage." Alexander Hamilton said, "That a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure, deformity."
Despite the framers' intentions in the beginning of the republic, ballot measures and their corresponding referendums have been widely used at the state and sub-state level. There is much state and federal case law, from the early 1900s to the 1990s, that protects the people's right to each of these direct democracy governance components (Magleby, 1984, and Zimmerman, 1999). The first United States Supreme Court ruling in favor of the citizen lawmaking was in Pacific States Telephone and Telegraph Company v. Oregon, 223 U.S. 118 in 1912 (Zimmerman, December 1999). President Theodore Roosevelt, in his "Charter of Democracy" speech to the 1912 Ohio constitutional convention, stated "I believe in the Initiative and Referendum, which should be used not to destroy representative government, but to correct it whenever it becomes misrepresentative."
In various states, referendums through which the people rule include:
- Referrals by the legislature to the people of "proposed constitutional amendments" (constitutionally used in 49 states, excepting only Delaware – Initiative & Referendum Institute, 2004).
- Referrals by the legislature to the people of "proposed statute laws" (constitutionally used in all 50 states – Initiative & Referendum Institute, 2004).
- Constitutional amendment initiative is a constitutionally-defined petition process of "proposed constitutional law", which, if successful, results in its provisions being written directly into the state's constitution. Since constitutional law cannot be altered by state legislatures, this direct democracy component gives the people an automatic superiority and sovereignty, over representative government (Magelby, 1984). It is utilized at the state level in nineteen states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and South Dakota (Cronin, 1989). Among these states, there are three main types of the constitutional amendment initiative, with different degrees of involvement of the state legislature distinguishing between the types (Zimmerman, December 1999).
- Statute law initiative is a constitutionally-defined, citizen-initiated, petition process of "proposed statute law", which, if successful, results in law being written directly into the state's statutes. The statute initiative is used at the state level in twenty-one states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming (Cronin, 1989). Note that, in Utah, there is no constitutional provision for citizen lawmaking. All of Utah's I&R law is in the state statutes (Zimmerman, December 1999). In most states, there is no special protection for citizen-made statutes; the legislature can begin to amend them immediately.
- Statute law referendum is a constitutionally-defined, citizen-initiated, petition process of the "proposed veto of all or part of a legislature-made law", which, if successful, repeals the standing law. It is used at the state level in twenty-four states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming (Cronin, 1989).
- The recall is a constitutionally-defined, citizen-initiated, petition process, which, if successful, removes an elected official from office by "recalling" the official's election. In most state and sub-state jurisdictions having this governance component, voting for the ballot that determines the recall includes voting for one of a slate of candidates to be the next office holder, if the recall is successful. It is utilized at the state level in nineteen states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and Wisconsin (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2011, Recall Of State Officials).
There are now a total of 24 U.S. states with constitutionally-defined, citizen-initiated, direct democracy governance components (Zimmerman, December 1999). In the United States, for the most part only one-time majorities are required (simple majority of those voting) to approve any of these components.
In addition, many localities around the U.S. also provide for some or all of these direct democracy governance components, and in specific classes of initiatives (like those for raising taxes), there is a supermajority voting threshold requirement. Even in states where direct democracy components are scant or nonexistent at the state level, there often exists local options for deciding specific issues, such as whether a county should be "wet" or "dry" in terms of whether alcohol sales are allowed.
In the U.S. region of New England, many municipalities (styled towns in contrast to cities) practice a very limited form of home rule, and decide local affairs through the direct democratic process of the town meeting.
Democratic reform trilemma
Democratic theorists have identified a trilemma due to the presence of three desirable characteristics of an ideal system of direct democracy, which are challenging to deliver all at once. These three characteristics are participation – widespread participation in the decision making process by the people affected; deliberation – a rational discussion where all major points of view are weighted according to evidence; and equality – all members of the population on whose behalf decisions are taken have an equal chance of having their views taken into account. Empirical evidence from dozens of studies suggests deliberation leads to better decision making. The most popularly disputed form of direct popular participation is the referendum on constitutional matters.
However, the more participants there are the more time and money is needed to set up good quality discussions with clear neutrally presented briefings. Also it is hard for each individual to contribute substantially to the discussion when large numbers are involved.
For the system to respect the principle of political equality, either everyone needs to be involved or there needs to be a representative random sample of people chosen to take part in the discussion. In the definition used by scholars such as James Fishkin, deliberative democracy is a form of direct democracy which satisfies the requirement for deliberation and equality but does not make provision to involve everyone who wants to be included in the discussion. Participatory democracy, by Fishkin's definition, allows inclusive participation and deliberation, but at a cost of sacrificing equality. Because if widespread participation is allowed, sufficient resources rarely will be available to compensate people who sacrifice their time to participate in the deliberation. So, participants tend to be those with a strong interest in the issue to be decided and often will not therefore be representative of the overall population. Fishkin instead argues that random sampling should be used to select a small, but still representative, number of people from the general public.
Fishkin concedes it is possible to imagine a system that transcends the trilemma, but it would require very radical reforms if such a system is to be integrated into mainstream politics. To an extent, the Occupy movement attempted to create a system that satisfies all three desirable requirements at once, but at a cost of the resulting system being widely criticized for being slow and unwieldy.
Electronic direct democracy
Electronic direct democracy (EDD), also known as direct digital democracy (DDD), is a form of direct democracy which utilizes telecommunications to facilitate public participation. Electronic direct democracy is sometimes referred to by other names, such as open source governance and collaborative governance.
EDD requires electronic voting or some way to register votes on issues electronically. As in any direct democracy, in an EDD, citizens would have the right to vote on legislation, author new legislation, and recall representatives (if any representatives are preserved).
Technology for supporting EDD has been researched and developed at the
- Documentary about the history and potential of direct democracy in the United States: It's Time We Talked
- Direct DemocracyDocumentary: on YouTube
- Alex Romane (People's Administration Direct Democracy Party)
- Direct democracy links
- Direct democracy at DMOZ
- Direct Democracy Pamphlet by Akiva ORR
-  Electronic Direct Democracy organisations on Participedia
- I&R ~ GB Campaign for Direct Democracy in Britain INIREF
- Key points of the bill | Più Democrazia in Trentino, Italy
- Occupy Movement, the Zapatista's and the General Assemblies
- ParticipatoryDemocracy.ca Social sustainability develops as we apply the universal, intrinsic, social commonalities of all people to the design and operation of our social institutions and organizations. Those commonalities exist now and will exist 1000 years from now.
- People's Administration Direct Democracy Party
- Popular Assemblies in Revolts and Revolutions
- Real Direct Democracy Now Blog on Real Direct Democracy Now
- The direct democracy as an alternative proposition
- UN Advisor stresses the need to develop direct democracy globally to protect human rights, Direct Democracy Ireland.
- The Need for Direct Democracy in India
- Arnon, Harel (January 2008). "A Theory of Direct Legislation" (LFB Scholarly)
- Cronin, Thomas E. (1989). Direct Democracy: The Politics Of Initiative, Referendum, And Recall. Harvard University Press.
- Finley, M.I. (1973). Democracy Ancient And Modern. Rutgers University Press.
- Fotopoulos, Takis, Towards an Inclusive Democracy: The Crisis of the Growth Economy and the Need for a New Liberatory Project (London & NY: Cassell, 1997).
- Fotopoulos, Takis, The Multidimensional Crisis and Inclusive Democracy. (Athens: Gordios, 2005). (English translation of the book with the same title published in Greek).
- Fotopoulos, Takis, "Liberal and Socialist 'Democracies' versus Inclusive Democracy", The International Journal of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY, vol.2, no.2, (January 2006).
- Gerber, Elisabeth R. (1999). The Populist Paradox: Interest Group Influence And The Promise Of Direct Legislation. Princeton University Press.
- Hansen, Mogens Herman (1999). The Athenian Democracy in the Age of Demosthenes: Structure, Principles and Ideology. University of Oklahoma, Norman (orig. 1991).
- Köchler, Hans (1995). A Theoretical Examination of the Dichotomy between Democratic Constitutions and Political Reality. University Center Luxemburg.
- Magleby, David B. (1984). Direct Legislation: Voting on Ballot Propositions in The United States. Johns Hopkins University Press.
- Matsusaka John G. (2004.) For the Many or the Few: The Initiative, Public Policy, and American Democracy, Chicago Press
- National Conference of State Legislatures, (2004). Recall of State Officials
- Orr Akiva e-books, Free download : Politics without politicians – Big Business, Big Government or Direct Democracy.
- Pimbert, Michel (2010). Reclaiming citizenship: empowering civil society in policy-making. In: Towards Food Sovereignty. http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/G02612.pdf? e-book. Free download.
- Polybius (c.150 BC). The Histories. Oxford University, The Great Histories Series, Ed., Hugh R. Trevor-Roper and E. Badian. Translated by Mortimer Chanbers. Washington Square Press, Inc (1966).
- Reich, Johannes (2008). An Interactional Model of Direct Democracy – Lessons from the Swiss Experience. SSRN Working Paper.
- Serdült, Uwe (2014) Referendums in Switzerland, in: Qvortrup, Matt (Ed.) Referendums Around the World: The Continued Growth of Direct Democracy. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 65-121.
- Verhulst Jos en Nijeboer Arjen Direct Democracy e-book in 8 languages. Free download.
- Zimmerman, Joseph F. (March 1999). The New England Town Meeting: Democracy In Action. Praeger Publishers.
- Zimmerman, Joseph F. (December 1999). The Initiative: Citizen Law-Making. Praeger Publishers.
- A. Democracy in World Book Encyclopedia, World Book Inc., 2006. B. Pure democracy entry in Merriam-Webster Dictionary. C. Pure democracy entry in American Heritage Dictionary"
- Hirschbühl (2011a).
- Hirschbühl (2011b).
- Hirschbühl (2011c).
- Hirschbühl (2011d).
- Fishkin 2011, Chapters 2 & 3.
- Ross 2011, Chapter 3
- Raaflaub, Ober & Wallace 2007, p. 5
- Cary & Scullard 1967
- Kobach 1993
- Henderson, J. (1993) Comic Hero versus Political Elite pp.307-19 in
- Elster 1998, pp. 1–3
- Vincent Golay and Mix et Remix, Swiss political institutions, Éditions loisirs et pédagogie, 2008. ISBN 978-2-606-01295-3.
- Trechsel (2005)
- The Federalist No. 10 – The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection (continued) – Daily Advertiser – November 22, 1787 – James Madison. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
- Zagarri 2010, p. 97
- Watts 2010, p. 75
- Stokes 1998
- Even Susan Strokes in her critical essay Pathologies of Deliberation concedes that a majority of academics in the field agree with this view.
- . ISSN 1406-5509 Vol.20, 2013. p.152Juridica InternationalJarinovska, K. "Popular Initiatives as Means of Altering the Core of the Republic of Latvia",
- Fishkin suggests they may even have been directly mobalised by interest groups or be largely composed of people who have fallen for political propaganda and so have inflamned and distorted opinions.
- Quezi.com. What is Direct Digital Democracy? Accessed 2011-11-26.
- "Open Governance and the Definition of e-Democracy" http://www.gov2u.org/blog/128-open-governance-and-the-definition-of-edemocracy
- Kattamuri et al. "Supporting Debates Over Citizen Initiatives", Digital Government Conference, pp 279-280, 2005
- List of active projects involved in the Metagovernment project
- List of related projects from the Metagovernment project
- Standardization project of the Metagovernment project.
- Electronic Voting in Switzerland at the Wayback Machine (archived February 12, 2007)
- Greenberg, D. (1992) Education in America – A View from Sudbury Valley, Democracy must be Experienced to be Learned.
- Greenberg, D. (1987) The Sudbury Valley School Experience, Teaching Justice Through Experience.
- Greenberg, D. (1987) Free at Last – The Sudbury Valley School, Chapter 22, The School Meeting.
- Extensive list of projects, mostly oriented toward direct democracy
Notes and references
- Libertarian municipalism
- Libertarian socialism
- Non-representative democracy
- Participatory budgeting
- Participatory democracy
- Participatory economics
- Popular assembly
- Proxy voting, esp. delegated voting
- Social democracy
- Soviet democracy
- Third International Theory
- Tyranny of the Majority
- Reform of the United Nations :United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, direct elected parliamentarians insteads of administrations' diplomaticians and United Nations Secretary-General elect by popular vote.
- Workers' councils
- Abahlali baseMjondolo – South African shack dwellers' movement
- Aktivdemokrati – political party for e-democracy Sweden
- Autonomous Action – a Russian libertarian communist and anarchist movement
- Change 2011 – a Finnish political party
- ¡Democracia Real YA! – Real Democracy NOW! Movement started from Spain.
- Democracy International eV
- Demoex – direct democracy party and experiment in Sweden
- Direct Democracy Ireland
- Direct Democracy Party of New Zealand
- Direct Democracy (Poland) – Polish political party promoting direct democracy, established 2012
- Direktdemokraterna; an alliance of three direct democratically oriented parties in Sweden, which received approx. 3000 votes in the 2014 election.
- Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy
- The Federal Democratic Party of Uganda – advocates for direct democracy. Simon Peter Kabala-Kasirye, the party's founder, advises that the Federal States of Uganda each should practice pure democracy and forward their deliberations to the central government which has no powers to alter the result of the deliberations (e.g., Buganda Kingdom Federal State has values that Karamoja Federal State may not agree with, and vice versa, but neither can alter the result of the deliberations in either state).
- Inclusive Democracy – Takis Fotopoulos' Inclusive Democracy Project that also publishes the Journal of Inclusive Democracy
- Internet Party – registered party in Spain proposing a liquid democracy system.
- Land Party – a ruralist direct democracy party in Galicia, Spain.
- The Metagovernment project – a global umbrella group supporting development and implementation of Internet-based governance software
- myDirectDemocracy project – Global and Local groups developing a New Human Right and Freedom - Direct Democracy
- The National Initiative for Democracy – United States movement led by former US Senator Mike Gravel to allow national ballot initiatives
- Occupy Movement and Occupy Wall Street
- Party for Accountability, Competency and Transparency – an electronic direct democracy party (pending registration) in Canada
- Partido de la Red – party in Argentina that promotes a balance between direct and representative democracy
- The Party of Internet Democracy – a direct democracy party in Hungary
- People's Administration Direct Democracy Party
- Pirate Party
- Senator On-Line – an electronic direct democracy party in Australia
- Thrive New Zealand – New Zealand-based political party promoting direct democracy utilising an on-line tool called RealVoice.
Some contemporary movements working for direct democracy via direct democratic praxis include:
Summerhill School in England has operated a direct democracy approach to decision making for over 90 years and has often come into conflict with the UK government as a result. The school won an appeal to the High Court in 1999 after it was threatened with closure. A joint statement confirmed that: "The minister recognised the school had a right to its own philosophy and that any inspection should take into account its aims as an international 'free' school ... both sides went on record as agreeing that the pupils' voice should be fully represented in any evaluation of the quality of education at Summerhill and that inspections must consider the full breadth of learning at the school – learning was not confined to lessons".
Sudbury model of democratic education schools are run by a School Meeting where the students and staff participate exclusively and equally. Everyone who wishes to attend can vote, and there are no proxies. As with direct democracy elsewhere, participants are usually only those who have an interest in the topic.
A democratic school is a school that centers on providing a democratic educational environment featuring "full and equal" participation from students and staff. These learning environments position youth voice as the central actor in the educative process by engaging students in every facet of school operations, including learning, teaching, leadership, justice, and democracy, through experience. Adult staff support students by offering facilitation according to students' interests.
Anarchists have advocated forms of direct democracy as an alternative to the centralized state and capitalism; however, others (such as individualist anarchists) have criticized direct democracy and democracy in general for ignoring the rights of the minority, and instead have advocated a form of consensus decision-making. Libertarian Marxists, however, fully support direct democracy in the form of the proletarian republic and see majority rule and citizen participation as virtues. The Young Communist League USA in particular refers to representative democracy as "bourgeois democracy", implying that they see direct democracy as "true democracy".
Relation to other movements
The first mainstream direct democracy party to be registered with any country's electoral commission [checked against each country's register] is the UK's People's Administration Direct Democracy party. The People's Administration have developed and published the complete architecture for a legitimate reform to EDD [including the required Parliamentary reform process]. Established by musicians and political activists, the People's Administration advocates using the web and telephone to enable the majority electorate to create, propose and vote upon all policy implementation. The People's Administration's blueprint has been published in various forms since 1998 and the People's Administration is the first direct democracy party registered in a vote-able format anywhere in the world – making transition possible through evolution via election with legitimate majority support, instead of potentially through revolution via violence.
EDD as a system is not fully implemented in a political government anywhere in the world, although several initiatives are currently forming. Ross Perot was a prominent advocate of EDD when he advocated "electronic town halls" during his 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns in the United States. Switzerland, already partially governed by direct democracy, is making progress towards such a system. Senator Online, an Australian political party running for the Senate in the 2007 federal elections, proposed to institute an EDD system so that Australians can decide which way the senators vote on each and every bill. A similar initiative was formed 2002 in Sweden where the party Aktivdemokrati, running for the Swedish parliament, offers its members the power to decide the actions of the party over all or some areas of decision, or alternatively to use a proxy with immediate recall for one or several areas. Since early 2011 EDD parties are working together on the Participedia wiki E2D
 Several of these projects are now collaborating on a cross-platform architecture, under the umbrella of the Metagovernment project. along with many supporting and related projects.