According to Democracy vs Republic

In a Republic,

All eligible citizens get equal say in decisions with protection of unalienable rights to individuals


Most modern nations—including the United States—are democratic republics with a constitution

where a constitution is

a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed.

This seems to be the same to me, in both a Republic and a democratic republic all eligible citizens can vote and there are certain unalienable rights (granted by constitutions in democratic republics) . What are the main differences between a democratic republic and a republic then?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Paul Johnson, Giter, Drunk Cynic, Glorfindel, President Bernie Sanders Nov 13 '18 at 22:26

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    This question is likely to attract opinion based answers, since these terms (like a lot of others in political taxonomy, including the word "country") aren't uniquely definedd. For example, North Korea is frequently considered a republic, and its official title is "the Democratic People's Republic of Korea", but there are people who would argue with all of the above. – origimbo Nov 13 '18 at 13:30

Well, there are some pretty big differences, and you are looking at a description of Republic used exclusively in the United States.

A Republic is a nation where the government of that nation is considered a "public affair" (literally translates from the Latin phrase "Res Public" which means "Public Thing") as opposed to a Monarchy, which is an inherited form of government (The King's first child shall be the next leader).

A Democracy is a government that has some measure of elections.

Not all Democracies are Republics. The United Kingdom and Japan are both Democracies but have a regent, a Queen in the United Kingdom, and an Emperor in Japan. These are Constitutional Monarchies which means they are functionally similar to Constitutional Republics, in that the laws are voted on in some fashion, but their head of state is a Monarch who is governed in what he or she can do by the Parlimentary Body, headed by a Prime Minister, who is the head of Government. In Republics, a President will be elected to fill a similar role as the Monarch, with Semi-Presidential (i.e. France, Germany) having explicit powers shared with the PM and Presidential (i.e. United States, Mexico) having all Head of Government and Head of State functions performed by the President.

Similarly, not all Republics are Democracies. As @origimbo, North Korea claims it is both these things, but to the casual observer, it is none of those things. The real answer is a bunch of Legal Fiction in that, Kim Il-sung is still the elected leader of the nation, and his son (Kim Jong-Il) and then Grandson (Kim Jong-Un) are holding down the fort until Kim Il-sung returns (yes... from the grave). Why yes, I am aware of the joke that the more adjectives in a title promoting freedom, the more like a prison the place is.

Other famous Republics that are not Democracies (or rather, Liberal Democracies, like the U.S., U.K., Canada, Japan, Switzerland, and a handful of many other nations) include the Soviet Union (The Union of Soviet Socialists Republics, officially) and pre-Iraq War Iraq. They both touted their elections, but neither was what most Western Democracies would call elections. The USSR was a one party state, so all people running were from the Communist Party and Iraq had a periodic question for election that was basically "Do you want Saddam Hussain to continue being President? Yes or No" and had surprisingly little support for No (aided by the arrest of all no voters). Normally these kinds of governments are Illiberal Democracies. Offering people the ability to vote "Like they do in the United States" is a great way for a modern dictator to hold power because the population has a concept of voting, but not what an actual ballot looks like.

Finally, when the United States says "It's a Republic, not a Democracy" it should be pointed out that Republic can be substituted for a "Representative Democracy" and Democracy can be substituted for "Direct Democracy". This goes back to the fact that the United States is generally one of the first Representative Democracies in the modern world and much of it's constitution was copied extensively by other nations making such a transition. At the time, Representative Democracy wasn't a real phrase, and the United States took government inspiration from the Roman Republic and Greek Democracy in their creation of their government model. The Founding Fathers were rather cagey about Mob-Rule from Direct Democracy and thought that a Republic was a better system to allow the people to vote, but to not vote in favor of insane polices... Look at the name of Boaty McBoatface for a more tame self rebuke on pure Democracy.

Even up to the point of Lincoln's Presidency, Democracy was strictly Direct Democracy where as Republic was a Representative Model. Generally they also held that a Republic was required to protect those with unpopular opinions (i.e. the minority political party) from getting outlawed and worked for equal rights to vote for representation (Republicans were the party of both the African American vote and pro-Woman Suffrage in the United States. This is before the party flips of the 60s, 70s, and 80s)

  • Minor quibble: the UK and Japan have monarchs, not regents. A regent is "a person appointed to govern a state because the monarch is a minor, is absent or is incapacitated." This last happened in the UK nearly 200 years ago. – Steve Melnikoff Nov 13 '18 at 16:55
  • @SteveMelnikoff: I was looking for a gender neutral non-Monarch rooted word to describe a situation. – hszmv Nov 13 '18 at 16:56
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    How about "hereditary head of state"? In any case, regent is definitely the wrong word. – Steve Melnikoff Nov 13 '18 at 16:58
  • "In Republics, a President will be elected to fill a similar role as the Monarch": specifically, in parliamentary republics. As you state, there are other types of republic. – Steve Melnikoff Nov 13 '18 at 16:58
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    @DrunkCynic en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_democracy In fact, both countries are listed on the page as examples of Liberal Democracies... the United States twice over. I don't know what you would say they are aside from that, but they are examples and this is the definition I am using when I use the phrase – hszmv Nov 13 '18 at 20:51

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