A democratic republic is a form of government operating on principles adopted from a republic and a democracy. Rather than being a cross between two entirely separate systems, democratic republics may function on principles shared by both republics and democracies.
Common definitions of the terms democracy and republic often feature overlapping concerns, suggesting that many democracies function as republics, and many republics operate on democratic principles, as shown by these definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary:
Eugene Volokh of the UCLA School of Law notes that the United States exemplifies the varied nature of a constitutional republic—a country where some decisions (often local) are made by direct democratic processes, while others (often federal) are made by democratically elected representatives. As with many large systems, US governance is incompletely described by any single term. It also employs the concept, for instance, of a constitutional democracy in which a court system is involved in matters of jurisprudence.
As with other democracies, not all persons in a democratic republic are necessarily citizens, and not all citizens are necessarily entitled to vote. Suffrage is commonly restricted by criteria such as voting age. and sometimes by felony or imprisonment status.
In the US, the notion that a republic was a form of democracy was common from the time of its founding, and the concepts associated with representative democracy (and hence with a democratic republic) are suggested by John Adams (writing in 1784):
No determinations are carried, it is true, in a simple representative democracy, but by consent of the majority or their representatives.
Historically, some inconsistency around the term is frequent. The Republic of China (Taiwan) claims to be the oldest of Asia's democratic republics, though its recent history of democratic process is largely linked only to Taiwan. Likewise, Africa's oldest democratic republic, Liberia (formed in 1822), has had its political stability rocked by periodic violence and coups.
Many countries that use the term "democratic republic" in their official names (such as Algeria, Congo-Kinshasa, Ethiopia, North Korea, Laos, and Nepal) are considered undemocratic "hybrid regimes" or "authoritarian regimes" by the Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index and "not free" by the U.S.-based, U.S.-government-funded non-governmental organization Freedom House.
In addition, East Germany was also officially known as the German Democratic Republic, but, like the Somali Democratic Republic, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, was controlled by a bureaucratic government espousing Marxism–Leninism. Incidentally, the Democratic Republic of Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of the Sudan were non-Marxist socialist dictatorships that existed during the Cold War.
There are also countries which use the term "Democratic Republic" in the name and have a good track of general election and were rated "flawed democracy" or "full democracy" in the Democracy Index, such as the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
in a simple or representative democracy but by consent of the majority.