Modern democracies are properly thought of as constitutional democracies. One of the many consequences of this is that they appear to contain an ambiguity in their institutional structure and principled rationale. On the one hand, as democracies, they are said to provide the means by which the people govern, or at least elect the representatives who are to govern. On the other hand, as embodying constitutional values, they involve institutional arrangements, such as the separation of powers or a system of checks and balances, limiting the powers of government. Thus, constitutional democracies are typically governed according to two sets of principles: constitutionalism, which prescribes that governments should conduct their business according to rules that limit their freedom of action, and the democratic principle, which prescribes that governments should implement the will of the people, as determined by voting.
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