Grassroots democracy

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The basis of democracy is a concept only as "diffuse collective term" defined form of direct democracy . In most grassroots democratic concepts, in contrast to representative democracy, it gets by without representatives , since all relevant decisions are made by those concerned themselves through “direct participation”, either through voting or direct action . If there are officials in some concepts, these should be subject to the permanent option of being voted out .


The term became popular in the context of citizens' initiatives and new social movements as a grassroots alternative to representative democracy. The aim is to tend to abolish the separation between rulers and ruled and to replace it with comprehensive direct participation in decision-making processes in favor of a common will that is seen as recognizable (see volonté générale ). In this sense, grassroots democracy falls back on older predecessors such as Rosa Luxemburg's remarks on the spontaneity of the masses and concepts of council democracy .

One of the fundamental difficulties lies in defining exactly who should and who should not belong to the eligible base. An increased degree of difficulty in reaching consensus and thus also in decision-making is seen. In addition, there is a fear that grassroots democracy structurally prefers groups that are capable of conflict over weaker groups within the grassroots.

Appeal to grassroots democracy in Germany

One party in Germany that explicitly supported grassroots democracy in its founding phase is the Greens . The electoral successes in the late 1980s and, above all, the merger with the East Greens and various civil rights movements that merged into Alliance 90 , however, led to an increasing professionalization and personalization of the Greens, which gradually led to parts of their principles that opposed hierarchization , tasks. In addition, due to the impact of the media, the broader population was more likely to accept a fixed leadership position than constantly changing people who were ultimately hardly known outside of the party.


The proliferation of Internet access makes it possible in theory, grassroots voting online in the network perform. By so-called I-voting could decisions be made quickly and evaluated.

Basic criticism

Because the pure concept of identitarian democracy - to which grassroots democracy is assigned - is directed against the constitutional shift of power from the mass of the people to abstract rules-following institutions , it remains questionable according to critical opinion, as in a pure grassroots democracy the rights of the individual before the Access of the respective majority could be protected. The institutional consensus reached by the majority could in principle abolish the laws protecting individual rights at any time or govern entirely without laws.

In the German representative democracy in is basic law a constitutional core of fundamental rights and constitutional principles such as the separation of powers defined as protected against change or even repeal and could be touched only by total replacement of the Constitution or an overthrow (s. Eternity clause ).

The idea of ​​grassroots democracy in its pure form is therefore sometimes accused of a potentially totalitarian understanding of politics due to its theoretically unlimited access to the individual (see Carl Joachim Friedrich ), although this accusation should not be used to defame any form of direct democratic participation.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Basic Democracy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Petra Bendel : Basisdemokratie . In: Dieter Nohlen , Rainer-Olaf Schultze (ed.) Encyclopedia of Political Science , Volume 1: A-M . CH Beck, Munich 2005, p. 63.
  2. Petra Bendel: Basic Democracy . In: Dieter Nohlen (Ed.): Lexicon of Politics . Volume 7: Political Terms . CH Beck, Munich 1998, p. 66. Peter Lösche : Direct democracy . In: Dieter Nohlen (Ed.), Ibid., P. 130.
  3. Ottokar Luban : Rosa Luxemburg's grassroots democratic conception of socialism . In: Yearbook for Research on the History of the Labor Movement , Volume II / 2006. Reiner Zilkenat : Historical research on the revolution 1918/19 and its reception in the time of the extra-parliamentary opposition . .
  4. ^ A b Petra Bendel: Basisdemokratie . In: Dieter Nohlen (Ed.): Lexicon of Politics . Volume 7: Political Terms . CH Beck, Munich 1995, p. 8051.
  5. Archive link ( Memento from November 6, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  7. cf. in total: Dieter Salomon : Green theory and gray reality: the GREENS and grassroots democracy . Arnold Bergstraesser Institute, Freiburg im Breisgau 1992
  8. ^ Dynamic Idea and Roadmap Competition. In: Dynamic Applications . January 13, 2017 ( [accessed September 29, 2018]).
  9. ^ Rainer-Olaf Schultze: Identitarian Democracy . In: Dieter Nohlen, Rainer-Olaf Schultze (Hrsg.): Lexicon of political science . Volume 1: A-M . CH Beck, Munich 2005, p. 359.