The key difference between a democracy and a republic lies in the limits placed on government by the law, which has implications on minority rights. Both forms of government tend to use a representational system where citizens vote to elect politicians to represent their interests and form the government. However, in a republic, a constitution or charter of rights protects certain inalienable rights that cannot be taken away by the government, even if it has been elected by a majority of voters. In a "pure" democracy, the majority is not restrained and can impose its will on the minority.
The various forms of government can be briefly summarized as:
- Monarchy or dictatorship: Rule by one (a king or emperor)
- Oligarchy: Rule by a few
- Democracy: Rule by a majority
- Republic: Rule by law