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δημοκρατία, “sovereignty of the people”). The Greek term for the form of constitution in which all citizens had the right of taking part in the government. This right was not always absolutely equal. Sometimes classes were formed on a property qualification and civil rights conferred accordingly (see Timocratia); but no class in this case was absolutely excluded from a share in the government, and it was possible to rise from one class to another. Sometimes provision was made by law to prevent any persons taking part in the administration but such as had proved their worth and capacity. In the absence of such limitations the democracy, as Plato in his Republic and Aristotle in his Politics observed, soon degenerated into a mob-government (ὀχλοκρατία) or developed into a despotism.

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