What is a Democracy?

Democracy is government by the people. In today's democratic societies it is usually through elected representatives. Democratic societies are recognised by the control of the government by the people, and freedom of speech and the press.

Democracies consist of:

    • People
    • Parliament
    • Government


Parliament is the most important democratic institution in the United Kingdom and is made up of the

    • Monarch
    • House of Lords
    • House of Commons

The House of Commons has 650 Members known as MPs each of whom is elected by local residents to represent an area of the country in Parliament. 

The House of Lords has around 700 Members most of whom have been appointed.  Many of them are chosen for their knowledge and experience in a particular field.

Parliament is not the same as the Government (which runs the country) and one of the jobs Parliament does is to check that the Government is running the country properly!

Parliament approves new laws before they come into force as Acts of Parliament.  MPs and Members of the House of Lords also debate important issues of the day such as public services, terrorism and relations with other countries.


Government is like the management of the country. It is made up of the different Departments run by Ministers and is headed by the Prime Minister.

The Government is formed by the party that gains the most seats in the House of Commons at a General Election. The leader of that party becomes the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister selects the members of the Government from MPs, Peers and very occasionally senior people outside Parliament.

The Government does not make laws - Parliament makes laws.