There are two kinds of democracy; the first is representative democracy, where representatives of the governed have the power to make laws by referendum, and can be voted into office. The second kind of democracy is a constitutional democracy, in which members of the legislature are elected directly by the people for a fixed term and have no right of recall. In representative democracy, the legislature makes the laws. In a constitutional democracy, the legislature delegates the power of making laws to the representatives of the people. Thus, a constitution is required to govern the legislature. There are various types of democracy, but all share the following key characteristics.
A democracy has a separation of powers, with checks and balances to prevent majoritarian abuse of power by the minority. Checks and balances to prevent the majority from becoming too powerful and from trampling on the rights of minorities. Also, checks and balances to prevent representatives from becoming corrupt and from representing only the interests of their party rather than the interests of the majority of citizens.
A democracy is a government by the people and for the people. It bases its legitimacy on the consent of the governed through election. Elected officials serve for a fixed term of office and are voted into office not by the people, but by citizens casting votes for that particular office. Thus, a democracy is governed by law and the rule of the majority rules.