Democracy can be defined as "government of the people, by the people, for the people". In a direct democracy, "by the people" would mean that every individual would have an opportunity to participate in decision making.

However, Britain (and every other democratic state) is a representative democracy - i.e. some individuals are elected to represent the views of others. They are accountable in that they can be recalled (i.e. not elected) at elections which take place at regular intervals.

Democracy usually takes this representative form for two reasons:

> it is not possible to consult directly the very large numbers of people who make up a modern state

> the decision making process is a complex one, usually involving many different considerations, influences, etc.

Therefore, representatives are entrusted with exercising their judgements in arriving at decisions.