Let's say a country has 1,400,000 citizens. Elections are held about, for example, joining the EU. 1,000,000 people decide to do A, while 300,000 people decide to B, and 100,000 decide to do C. In a democratic country, everyone will do A, but doesn't this suppress the rights of the people who voted to do B and C? Why follow the majority? Just let each group do what they want. Obviously, not every person of group A will agree with each other on everything, but they can find a common ground and keep what is common.

Why has no political system similar to this been proposed for a country? What are the drawbacks?

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    This really looks like an opinion/debate type of question, making it an iffy proposition for this site. see politics.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask Besides, actually joining or not joining the EU is a binary problem within a country: you either do or you don't so this example doesn't make a lot of sense. May 29, 2023 at 17:12
  • Only some of the citizens would follow the rules of the EU, not all of them by choosing what they believe is right for themselves.
    – Volpina
    May 29, 2023 at 17:14
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica the post is a debate until the questions. The questions are clear and can be answered objectively by using the history of political systems.
    – Volpina
    May 29, 2023 at 17:15
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  • I think this question is ontopic. It might be a duplicate and already asked but should get answered at least once. And if I read answers like you cannot always get what you want that still leaves open that sometimes that might exactly what is possible. I think for example on different religious groups deciding on their own national holidays and other such situations. May 30, 2023 at 15:20

4 Answers 4


"just let each group do what they want" That is called Anarchy.

Alice gives Bob her salad. Carol wants to eat that salad. What's to stop her?

Alice and Bob want Bob to eat the salad. Carol wants to eat the salad. Without any sort of agreement, this typically means Carol resorts to some sort of "violence" (such as theft). But thats a crappy way to live: each person stealing or attacking as they feel like it. So, instead, the group eventually arrives at some sort of consensus, so that each of them doesn't need to fear the others attacking/stealing from them. Because life is nicer that way.

That process of pursuing a consensus instead of just doing what you want is Politics.

The consensus they reach is called a social contract.

When the social contract revolves around the shared voice of the people, we call it democracy (vs autocracy/theocracy/oligarchy, etc). The people make decisions as a group, typically for voting (either directly or for representatives).

So Alice and Bob likely gang up on Carol, and she likely agrees to the social contract, either for moral reasons (it's their salad), or practical reasons (either she won't win the fight, or the contract offered is worth her shot at that salad).

Morality is a whole other beast. Core to "liberal" "western" cultures is the concept that the State (the construct we create from the social contract) only infringes on freedom as is needed to maintain the State, and otherwise safeguards as many freedoms as possible.

Note first that thats not to say they always try to do that.

Note second that not all democracies feel the same way. For instance China puts a lot more emphasis on stability and the needs of the State, whereas the US puts more emphasis on the individual and on liberties. It's a complicated balancing act with a lot of different opinions and weights.

Democracy is the tool we use to manage our State's actions. So Democracy can be used to make the State either infringe on our liberties either more or less. But not at all is anarchy.

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    Technically "no rules" is called "anomie" not anarchy (no rulers). It's actually possible for an anarchist society to have rules, you'd just not have a central authority to make or enforce them.
    – haxor789
    May 30, 2023 at 9:13

Because it isn't always possible for everyone to get exactly what they want and sometimes it comes down to not being able to get it because more people want something else.

In your example of a country joining the EU they are not going to allow a country to join unless the applicable rules and regulations applied to everyone equally in the country. The country could make the statement that the rules and regulations of the EU would only apply to the people who wanted to join but that isn't something that the EU is going to allow.

Another way to twist the question was if the country held a vote on slavery. If groups A and C voted to disallow slavery (with group C being the target) but group B voted to allow slavery would you suggest that they could enslave others just because they wanted to?

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    @Volpina And that doesn't change the fact that people in groups B and C won't get what they want which could be not joining the EU or joining it with some restrictions because more people wanted to join it. No matter what form of government you have there will always be groups of people who don't/can't get what they want because they are not in the majority.
    – Joe W
    May 29, 2023 at 19:36
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    @Volpina Groups B and C won't have a choice of following the rules and regulations because those rules and regulations will become the law for the country. An organization like the EU wouldn't let people pick and chose which rules and regulations they want to follow and would require them to follow them all or not be allowed to join. Just because you don't get your way and you have to follow rules you don't like doesn't mean it wasn't fair.
    – Joe W
    May 29, 2023 at 19:57
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    @Volpina You are missing the point that it isn't possible for everyone to always get what they want and that compromise isn't always possible.
    – Joe W
    May 29, 2023 at 20:02
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    @JoeW: But I want a pony! :-P
    – einpoklum
    May 29, 2023 at 20:02
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    @Volpina And you are still missing the point of my answer. It isn't always possible to give everyone what they want. There are times when what someone wants goes completely against what others want and that means someone isn't going to get what they want.
    – Joe W
    May 29, 2023 at 20:08

First note, that "democracy" isn't just one thing. It seems to me that you're assuming a parliamentary, representative democracy, with simple-majority-oriented decision-making procedures (e.g. in parliament and referenda), with a weak/permissive constitution or weak judiciary.

You wrote:

Elections are held about, for example, joining the EU.

This already assumes that in your country, a decision supported by the majority of people/voters can subjugate them to foreign governing entities. In particular, it means your country has the centralized coercive mechanism for enforcing such subjugation. i.e. if a part of the population refuses to abide by EU decisions, the police or the military will suppress them physically - jail them, shoot them etc. - until they submit.

1,000,000 people decide to do A, while 300,000 people decide to B, and 100,000 decide to do C. In a democratic country, everyone will do A

Here is a particular point where your specific assumptions about democracy come into play. Not every "democratic" regime will have this feature. Also, if A is repressive/significantly detrimental to many people, and the judiciary is not weak relative to the executive (which ran the referendum) - then the referendum would be challenged and A would not be done. Or the referendum would not be able to be held in the first place. Some would argue that joining the EU is such a situation. It is worth mentioning that some EU member states joined without even a referendum.

but doesn't this suppress the rights of the people who voted to do B and C?

The "rights" under what system of rights? Rights don't just exist in thin air, they are social norms, and sometimes legal, formally-defined norms. You could say that enforcing A on people who disagree with it is repressive (regardless of whether we believe A to be a good idea or not).

Why follow the majority? Just let each group do what they want.

The whole point of states is that they don't let people do what they want. That is state sovereignty: The sovereign controls the means of (violent) enforcement somewhere, and thus sets basic rules for people's behavior in that territory.

Why has no political system similar to this been proposed for a country?

Many such systems are proposed, but sovereign states usually don't want to disband or devolve, and are not open to such suggestions. Thus, changes in this direction require popular struggle and/or external pressures. Sometimes that means civil war, sometimes coups d'etat, sometime complete revolutions, sometimes just legislative reform (e.g. devolution in the UK).

What are the drawbacks?

Depends on the alternative social regime proposed. If you want to ask about pros and cons of more centralized vs decentralized regimes, I believe that should be a separate question.


One problem with this question is that it seems logically inconsistent.

Let's take some starting assumption:

  • A government is in the business of legislating/regulating/coercing. Or deciding not to.

  • We are talking about a unitary country/state/province applying regulations to residents/citizens of that territory.

  • The democracy bit is not all that relevant. Same principles above apply to dictatorships.

Option 1 - everyone gets to do as they want.

Totally valid. This is a domain the government is not intervening in. Many supporters of democracy like the idea of small-as-possible government.

For example, everyone can generally eat as they wish (health regulations and endangered shark fins aside).

Option 2 - everyone welcomes the regulation

Countries have sides of the road on which to drive. It doesn't really matter which but there is an obvious benefit to have rules to avoid accidents (still, the right hand side is morally superior!)

No dilemma here either.

Option #3 Different groups get to do different things (this Q).

Let's jump into a contentious subject, abortion in the US.

Certainly pro-choice meant the people not wanting to have abortion could... not have them. But the pro-life counterargument is that the fetuses/unborn children did not have a choice. So, in their view, anyone aborting, in any group B, C, D... is morally repugnant.

In 2020, one group got to decide over the other. No real compromise was possible in the view of pro-life folk (one could also argue that the pro-choice crowd never countenanced term limits well accepted by European electorates).

To cite a comment:

if it's legal for some people, it's legal for all people

EU/not in EU.

Only some of the citizens would follow the rules of the EU, not all of them by choosing what they believe is right for themselves.

No, this doesn't make any sense either. The EU will either grant market access or not. Ask the Brexit crowd about it.

To invade or not to invade?

Russia's war on Ukraine seems popular with some and Putin has some approval rating. Surely, until the the partial mobilization last September, this would fit the Q? Group A joins volunteer battalions and group B sits out the war?

No, everyone gets hit with sanctions and everyone sees reduced services from military spending. So even there a government has to take a stand (fudging on mobilization is also very sub-optimal).

Drug laws.

After decades of war on drugs, Canada legalized cannabis. Generally a logical and popular move. But what about harder drugs? Cocaine/LSD/mushrooms etc might be regulated without excessive societal issues. How about strongly addictive and dangerous substances like heroin and fentanyl? Group A can sit them out, while group B indulges. But what happens when Group A is asked to foot the medical bills? It certainly affects them and the freedom accorded to group B comes at a cost to others.

Option 4: Absence of regulation is not always neutral.

Sure, in the case of what to eat, the government can sit it out. But let's take, sorry for that old example, child porn.

Some, very liberal and democratic, Western countries had no child pornography laws on the books. That is a choice.

Until Italy decided to criminalize groping on public transport, that was also a choice, which impacted Group B - women who didn't like getting groped.

Option 5 - laws granting rights.

An example would be laws granting freedom of religion. Those are almost the opposite of active government intervention, so they're generally not infringing on the rights of any groups and aren't very contentious in a healthy society. Hardly in scope of this question (except as far as arguing that it "infringes on the rights" of groups to coerce others).

I am sure there are counter-examples.

But not enough to posit a system where you can have a government, other than anarchy, that actually governs while offering everyone their preferred choice on a wide spectrum of issues.

The exact governance system, democracy per this question, has little to with this issue, other than democracy needs checks and balances to avoid the tyranny of the majority problem.

  • The EU example isnt a good example my bad but lets talk about the abortion law in the US?Why cant 1 group find abortion illegal and the other group find abortion legal?What prevents them?Nothing.
    – Volpina
    May 29, 2023 at 19:57
  • Lets say 80% of US citizens find abortion illegal.Why shouldnt the rest 20% be allowed to find abortion legal?And if someone from the 80% does a abortion then sure he can go to prison or be fined but why should someone from the 20% be forced to be treated the same?
    – Volpina
    May 29, 2023 at 20:01
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    You describe the pre-2020 situation where abortion was legal throughout the land and people could choose. Now they can choose to live in different States - but at a local level there is a law that decides legal/not legal. In the absence of that law, there is no regulation, so it doesn't fit the Q. May 29, 2023 at 20:04
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    @Volpina if it's legal for some people, it's legal for all people. When applied to all things that are currently illegal, you end up with anarchy.
    – Esther
    May 29, 2023 at 20:41
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    @Volpina Why would anyone convicted of a crime not say they believe that thing should be legal? Not to mention that in many cases, abortion definitely included, the people who are opposed don't just want to not do a certain thing themselves, they also want to stop other people from doing it. May 30, 2023 at 13:52

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