Democracy (Greek: δημοκρατία, Dēmokratía literally "rule of the commoners"), in modern usage, is a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body, such as a Parliament. Democracy is sometimes referred to as "rule of the majority". Democracy was originally conceived in Classical Greece, where political representatives were chosen by a jury from amongst the male citizens: rich and poor. The English word dates to the 16th century, from the older Middle French andMiddle Latin equivalents.
Democracy contrasts with forms of government where power is either held by an individual, as in anabsolute monarchy, or where power is held by a small number of individuals, as in an oligarchy. Nevertheless, these oppositions, inherited from Greek philosophy, are now ambiguous because contemporary governments have mixed democratic, oligarchic, and monarchic elements. Karl Popper defined democracy in contrast to dictatorship or tyranny, thus focusing on opportunities for the people to control their leaders and to oust them without the need for a revolution.