"So democracy starts, in my opinion, when the poor members of the community are victorious. They kill some of the rich, they expel others, and they give everyone who's left equal social and political rights- Republic (557a).
Plato's objection to democracy as a form of government is valid, and strong. The democracy of his time was lead directly by the citizens, and decisions concerning the welfare of others could potentially be made by the uneducated and uninformed. However, his claim that democracy as a whole is weak is unsubstantiated. Modern democratic governments have in place the necessary checks and balances to keep the uninformed masses a safe distance from actual decision-making. Citizens elect informed representatives to cast the actual vote. This "buffer zone" of current democracy gives the hope of success to modern government that was, in the eyes of Plato, lacking from Athenian democracy. .
Many of the political views Plato held were influenced by the political tribulations of Athens. During Plato's life alone, Athens underwent much political unrest. After centuries with a democratic rule, the Athenian government was replaced with the violent reign of the Oligarchy of Thirty Tyrants, imposed as a result of their surrender to Sparta fallowing the Peloponnesian War. The members of the Oligarchy, Plato's uncle included, used their power to further there own agenda and increase their already substantial wealth. .
After a short reign, spanning only a few months, the Oligarchy was brought down by an exiled Athenian general, who with the help of former Athenians, restored democracy to the people of Athens.
Athenian democracy emphasized direct participation. Every male citizen was aloud to attend assembly, propose amendments, offer opinions, and was encouraged to vote. All decisions made pertaining to international or national politics was decided by a vote of the masses.