First of all, stop referring to America as a democracy. Democracy in its true form does not work, except in Switzerland. If you are reading this and care about technical accuracy, try using one of these terms instead of democracy when discussing forms of government: federal republic, parliament, and representative democracy. Maybe consider adding the word “indirect” in front of democracy when attempting to describe American government.
The United Kingdom, Ireland, Netherlands, Austria and Germany, are parliamentary democracies. The only dictatorship in Europe currently is Belarus.
Russia and France have a semi-presidential form of government. Whereas most countries are representative republics, these governments tend to act as democratic socialism in proxy. The United States, as a hybrid, federal, representative republic, has been trending towards democratic socialism by proxy, which is why I believe the elections in 2016 shifted heavily in the opposite direction from Russia and France and back towards a representative republic.
There are some other countries, which are federal republics like Germany. A federal republic represents a union of states or related entities. In this arrangement, governmental powers are divided among the federal governments and the states. The federal government of Germany is very similar to parliamentary democracy.
The United Kingdom is an example of a constitutional monarchy. In this form of government, the monarch heads the government. However, he or she does not have any real powers. Political power is vested in the prime minister, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The legislative assembly also carries out legislation, similar to a democratic state. These are the main forms of government that are currently in operation in most European countries.
The characteristics of a true democracy are the right of citizens to choose their government representatives, a government with limited powers, majority rule, minority rights, and effective checks and balances on the government.
The United States is a republic first and foremost. Encyclopedia Britannica identifies a republic as a system in which members of the citizen body constitute the government and the rule of law applies to all members of society. This makes a republic different from a monarchy, in which a single ruler obtains power from inheritance and arbitrarily governs without being accountable to a higher authority.
The underlying principle of a republic is liberty, and republics use many mechanisms to ensure the freedom of citizens. In addition to elections, republics often employ written constitutions, bills of rights, term limits, separation of powers, checks and balances, and other measures designed to limit the power of government and prevent any one person or group of people from amassing exorbitant power.
Republics are designed to cultivate the virtue of their citizenry; the preservation of a republic greatly depends upon the integrity and involvement of citizens. The Encyclopedia of Philosophy states that some of the most important republican virtues are honesty, duty, education and a commitment to the furtherance of the common good above personal interests.