Substantive democracy is a form of democracy in which the outcome of elections is representative of the people. In other words, substantive democracy is a form of democracy that functions in the interest of the governed. Although a country may allow all citizens of age to vote, this characteristic does not necessarily qualify it as a substantive democracy.
In a substantive democracy, the general population plays a real role in carrying out its political affairs, i.e., the state is not merely set up as a democracy but it functions as one as well. This type of democracy can also be referred to as a functional democracy. There is no good example of an objectively substantive democracy.
The opposite of a substantive democracy is a formal democracy, which is where the relevant forms of democracy exist but are not actually managed democratically. The former Soviet Union can be characterized in as such, since its constitution was essentially democratic but in actuality the state was managed by a bureaucratic élite.
- The Critique of the State A Twenty-First Century Perspective István Mészáros Monthly Review Volume 67, Issue 04 (September)
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