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Popular democracy is a notion of direct democracy based on referendums and other devices of empowerment and concretization of popular will. The concept evolved out of the political philosophy of Populism, as a fully democratic version of this popular empowerment ideology, but since it has become independent of it, and some even discuss if they are antagonistic or unrelated now (see Values). Though the expression has been used since the 19th century and may be applied to English Civil War politics, at least the notion (or the notion in its current form) is deemed recent and has only recently been fully developed.
Walt Whitman uses the word in Democratic Vistas as description of the vague notion of masse democracy with universal suffrage of a more or less direct and participatory type he defended. He admitted that the system had some dangers, but it "practically justifies itself beyond the proudest claims and wildest hopes of its enthusiasts".William Jennings Bryan may be considered a popular democrat for his support of a democracy based on popular sovereignty.
Theodore Roosevelt is considered a defender of a popular democrat insurgency against big business and elitism.
In 1996 the popular democratic Organization for Popular Democracy - Labour Movement created the Congress for Democracy and Progress, being the current ruling party in Burkina Faso.
The internet is sometimes considered as a vital part or an example of modern popular democratic practices.
Some Marxist groups consider that the current Middle East is currently prepared for and wishes popular democracy (which in this context may be referring to Marxist People's Democracy) but that the "neoconservative design upon the region" and American power prevents this.
As Popular democracy is an ideal of direct and participatory democracy based on grassroots, there aren't exactly very defined values beyond support of this kind of democracy over more representative types. But some attempts have been made to define Popular democrat ideals based around the idea that this direct democracy is just a step for a full democracy. Some proposals of Popular democratic common values have been:
As the ideal of Popular democracy came out of prepositions of Populism (ex: popular rule in democracy is fairer than elitist parliaments; decisions by general referendums are fairer than decisions by limited groups like parliaments and governments), and as platforms of certain groups claiming to be popular democratic are very similar to those of various democratic and undemocratic populist movements, there is discussion on the relation between both political philosophies.
The Nepalese Maoists also support a socialist, non-elitist, form of popular democracy
, which may be understood as a form of Maoist people's democracy but based more on popular participation and less on Vanguard parties.
^Simons, Jon (30 August 2007). "Democratically Aestheticized Politics". American Political Science Association. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 2012. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hyatt Regency Chicago and the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, Chicago, Illinois.