Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Freedom comes from the recognition of certain rights which may not be taken, not even by a 99% vote.
— Marvin Simkin
“We are a Republican Government. Real liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of Democracy… It has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity.”
~ Alexander Hamilton
“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
~ John Adams, 2nd President of the United States
“Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death.
~ James Madison, 4th President of the United States, Father of the Constitution
“The experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating and short-lived.”
~ John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States
“Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.”
~ John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, 1801-1835
Unfortunately, a vast majority of countries that call themselves Representative Democracies are not true democracies according to the above definition. Most of them are actually just Elected Dictatorships. People can vote usually only once every four or five years. They do not vote on any issues. They just elect their so called representatives who then until the next elections have no obligations by law and little incentives to base their decisions on individual issues on the wishes on their electorate. They hardly ever bother to consult them on their stands on various issues. Therefore, legislative bodies composed of such "representatives" act in a very dictatorial manner between the elections. The only country that is quite close to the definition of Democracy is Switzerland (more or less since 1291).
Though there might be blocs of opinion, sometimes enduring, on important matters, there were no political parties and likewise no government or opposition (as in the Westminster system ). Voting was by simple majority . In the 5th century at least there were scarcely any limits on the power exercised by the assembly. If the assembly broke the law, the only thing that might happen is that it would punish those who had made the proposal that it had agreed to. If a mistake had been made, from the assembly's viewpoint it could only be because it had been misled.