Republic vs Democracy: Popular Misconception

Many people misunderstand the terms of republic and democracy. These two forms of government are similar, yet they differ by the limitations that are mentioned in the Constitution and guard the rights of minorities. Both systems can be representational, which means people choose a person (politician) to represent them and their interests in the government. However, in a republic, the minority and their interests are protected by a set of laws, while in the so-called “pure democracy” the majority has a full advantage over the minority.

Most developed countries call themselves democratic republics, operating according to a constitution that can be changed by the government chosen. Yet, most people, including Americans, aim at a “pure democracy”, often not understanding that it’s not a representative democracy.

The Main Differences Between Democracy and Republic

  • In democracy, the country is ruled by the majority, not leaving the minority even a protection of their interests and rights.
    In republic, any representative of the minority is protected at least by the basic laws stated in a valid constitution, so he or she can’t be imposed by the opinion of the majority.
  • In democracy all citizens have equal rights to state their point of view in any decision.
    In republic people have the same rights, but the individuals are protected by the law.
  • Confusion in the US.
    Americans confuse pure and representative forms of democracy. In the country there’s a representative style, which is obvious as we have elections that choose these representatives.
    Republic is very much alike, and the US formally is a republic as it’s life is mostly ruled by the laws stated in the Constitution.
  • In democracy, freedom of religion is granted, yet the majority most often limits this freedom for the minority.
    In republic, as there is a constitutional rule not to interfere with the freedom of religion, the rights of the minorities can’t be overridden.
  • In democracy, all people are equal, yet the minority isn’t protected from the majority.
    In republic, it is protected by the Constitution.


You see? In democracy it’s all about the united group of people, while republic is all about individuals and their rights’ protection. Both forms of government are valid and working, yet many people don’t understand what is the key difference between them.

As for today, the term “republic” is mostly used to describe a representative form of democracy. This is what makes the matter difficult, as it is democratic yet differs from it by the protection of the minority rights.

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