We define democracy as a relationship between challenges, institutions and participation, where challenges are the fundamental starting point of any democratic governance.
The other dimension of the democratic arrangement is the level at which decisions are made. Modern democracy started as an arrangement at the national level, starting with the American and French revolutions starting in 1776 and 1789. Democratic arrangements have since been developed at local levels. In the present age of globalisation democratic institutions have been developed at e.g. the European level with the european institutions - and some rudimentary attempts have been made at the global level in the UN system, international law and trade arrangements.
Challenges are always challenges for someone - an individual or a collective of individuals. A smaller group in a limited locality - a nation - a continent - or the entire humanity. This also means that most challenges only relate to limited groups of individuals or collectives, often delimited by a common locality. These are "owners" of the challenges, no matter what level they are at. These are the subjects of institutions. These are the actors that legitimately influence their institutions. This is symbolised by the graphic of a brain in the center of the image to the right.
In the image four levels are depicted, all positioned in the same position in relation to the subjects. Local, National, Regional (e.g. EU, USA, India), and Global.
The local level has its own challenges - such as zoning laws, roads, schools, sewage, water supply, electricity supply etc. Its own institutions such as Mayors, Local councils. Its own ways of citizens influencing through elections etc.
The National level deals with other challenges - and has Government, Prime Minister, Parliament - and elections, constitutions etc. that make it possible to influence and control institutions.
The Regional and Global levels have their own challenges such as climate change, global markets, resources, international conflicts - and until now rudimentary institutions such as EU, WTO, international conventions and United Nations.