Hot on the heels of their successful 1994 Pandemonium album and tour, Killing Joke's members converged on the UK from their new-found homes in three continents, to hide away in Cornwall and Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, where the album was produced. Coleman had spent some time decompressing at the end of Pandemonium in Sedona, Arizona, where he had been inspired by the new interest in the native American culture, striking a chord with his previous involvement in Maori culture in New Zealand, where he had been settled for a short while.
A more optimistic and New Age tinged album lyrically, while keeping some of the weight and import of Pandemonium, the album marked the beginning of a more settled period for singer Jaz Coleman, who had by now also made considerable progress with his orchestral career.Production was overseen by Martin "Youth" Glover, with live session musician Geoff Dugmore on drums. Synthesised textures from keyboardist Nick Holywell-Walker added to the concoction.
The album sessions culminated in a full moon drumming fire ceremony on a small island on the river Thames at Henley, with Youth reportedly braving the murky waters for a naked swim.Democracy was mixed in Sarm West in London's Portobello Road towards the end of 1995, with the exception of the track "Savage Freedom" which was mixed at Butterfly Studios, Brixton, by celebrated British engineer-producer Ott. However, guitarist Geordie Walker has expressed disappointment with the resulting Democracy album.
After a short tour in the summer of 1996, the band began their longest career hiatus to date, not reforming until 2002 and releasing their second eponymously titled album in 2003.
Critical response to Democracy has been generally mixed. Adrien Begrand of PopMatters commented that on the album "the band sounds watered down".Trouser Press called the album "the wrong kind of joke – either Midnight Oil with a raspy singer or James Hetfield attempting to hijack U2 – complete with inane lyrics about 'Prozac People', 'Intellect' and 'Another Bloody Election'. Vote with your feet." Jack Rabid of AllMusic, on the other hand, called it "Killing Joke's best album in [eleven] years".