If we occasionally took the time to give that overworked, misunderstood word even a passing thought, it might turn out that ‘democracy’ is a pretty woolly, almost indefinable idea for a political system. It’s not actually a system per se at all. Nevertheless, we toss the term around, albeit loosely, as though we know what it means and how it is supposed to work. Most of us probably only use it, the word ‘democracy’, to tell people from any country that doesn’t currently run its affairs as what we call ‘a democracy’, that tlhey should be one – and make it snappy!
– George Negus, The World from Down Under, HarperCollins, Sydney, pg 344