->''"Had every Athenian citizen been a Creator/{{Socrates}}, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob."''\\
--'''UsefulNotes/JamesMadison'''

Humanity has seen better days. The EndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt has wiped out a good chunk of people, and the government has been reduced to a post office worker and a marine. In this situation where survival is imperative, what do the survivors do? Hold elections!

This isn't as foolhardy as it seems at first, though it ''can'' potentially doom the survivors. If the group of survivors is small, they may decide that rather than [[DividedWeFall pulling in different directions]], electing a leader will give them better odds of survival. Alternately, they may decide to "[[TheMutiny mutiny]]" against a self imposed leader (or one from their [[StillTheLeader pre-disaster times]]) who hasn't been doing a good job. They may hold an impromptu election with papers and a hat, or it may be as informal as everyone saying "I'm with TheHero". If they're replacing a CommanderContrarian or PointyHairedBoss with an IgnoredExpert or ReasonableAuthorityFigure, they're far likelier to survive. If on the other hand, they boot the latter choices because they [[DeathByPragmatism make pragmatic but unpopular]] choices, expect these voters to meet their doom.

If the group is much, much larger, then the survivors will band together and try to organize. It usually happens in a CosyCatastrophe (or at least a slightly less hellish one), because the people have a need for a civil leader apart from the hero(es) who lead the "armed forces". The elected mayor or president can call upon the powers of GoodRepublicEvilEmpire to rally the people, as opposed to their enemy(ies) [[IControlMyMinionsThrough who use fear]]. Unless DemocracyIsBad, in which case this becomes a pointless waste of time that gets people killed for not simply letting the hero lead them.

Depending on the implementation, this trope usually helps prove RousseauWasRight-- even at our darkest moments, we can pull together into a democracy instead of devolving into an oppressive autocracy. Of course, since a Disaster Democracy is usually pitted ''against'' an [[HobbesWasRight oppressive autocracy]], it becomes more of a cautionary [[AnAesop aesop]].

[[IThoughtItMeant Not to be confused with]] democracy being portrayed as a disaster itself, which is DemocracyIsBad.

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!!Examples:

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[[folder: Anime & Manga ]]

* In ''HighSchoolOfTheDead'', Shidou stages an 'election' amongst the survivors fleeing by bus, after the bus is packed with his cult of personality.

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[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* In Creator/MarvelComics' ''ComicBook/SecretWars'', practically the first thing the heroes do after the Beyonder transports them to Battleworld is to elect a leader (unsurprisingly, it turns out to be ComicBook/CaptainAmerica).
* In ''ComicBook/JLAAvengers'' when the two teams team up Cap is once again chosen as the leader of all.
* In ''ComicBook/TheWalkingDead'', the survivors attempt multiple forms of governing themselves. They eventually settle on electing a triumvirate. It works. For a while.

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[[folder: Literature ]]

* ''Literature/TheRestaurantAtTheEndOfTheUniverse'' subverts and parodies various aspects of this as the Golganfrinchan B Ark crew form committees to make fire, adopt the leaf as currency and then suggest burning down forests to avert inflation, and various others absurdities. But then again their population consists entirely of hair dressers, marketing executives, and telephone sanitizers. [[spoiler: They must have got their act together eventually, because they're [[AncientAstronauts humanity's ancestors]].]]
* ''Literature/LordOfTheFlies'' has an election between two of the boys. Despite the more level headed candidate getting in, ultimately things descend into chaos.
* Similar to ''Literature/LordOfTheFlies'', the ''Literature/{{Gone}}'' series features a population of children coming together to survive after all the adults suddenly disappear and they find themselves trapped inside a giant ethereal dome. The first book features an AffablyEvil young man stage a quasi-peaceful takeover of things only to be deposed when his corrupt "government"'s dirty secrets are exposed and things turn violent.
* If you consider having your entire town abruptly transported back in time to 1632 in Europe a disaster, then ''Literature/SixteenThirtyTwo'' has a fine example. The small mining town decides to uphold American ideals and holds impromptu elections to determine who has what responsibility. Once the immediate crisis has passed, they plan to hold much more far-reaching elections, including the native people from the time period.
* In Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''Literature/TunnelInTheSky'' the stranded students' mistake is NOT establishing a democracy but making their government too complicated to suit primitive survival conditions. In another book ''Literature/StarmanJones'' the stranded passengers turned colonists are advised to write out a Mayflower-like compact straight off or they are not likely to survive.
* ''TheStand'' has a pretty lengthy scene dealing with this, as the new Boulder residents have their CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming as they vote to reinstate the US Constitution. Then they actually have to get down to the nitty-gritty of running the place and the protagonists ultimately form a ruling council with MagicalNegro Abagail at its head, because she's the reason everyone settled in Boulder in the first place.
* Creator/CoryDoctorow's short story ''When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth'' starts with the main character in question (who survived the apocalypse by being inside a building with a bunch of servers and filtered air) running a campaign and then election for the Prime Minister of the Internet. It doesn't last long, although he is known as the Prime Minister forever after by geeks.
* In the ''NovelsOfTheChange'', just about everyone resorts to some variety of monarchy when gunpowder and electricity stop working, but Corvallis sticks to its American roots and has the university committee arbit all decisions. This makes it something of a HiddenElfVillage.
** Which is ironic, considering that certain of the survivors have gone well out of their way to create a ''literal'' HiddenElfVillage, right down to calling themselves the Dúnedain and using Sindarin on a regular basis.
** Corvallis is more of a city-state run by philosopher kings (the Faculty Senate) in the manner of Plato's ''Republic'' rather than true American democracy. That said, it's still one of the more desirable places to live in an otherwise CrapsackWorld. Iowa's state government is probably closer, but it [[spoiler:falls prey to dictatorship, experiences at least two internal coups, and ultimately takes on the trappings of monarchy right down to having a hereditary dynasty in charge.]]
** In ''Sword of the Lady'' it's suggested that even the Corvallans are eager to come under the rule of the region's High King.
** Democracy appears to be alive and well in at least one of the Dominions of Canada, as there's a reference to a Governor, and at least one very minor character says she voted for the current incumbent.
** In ''IslandInTheSeaOfTime'' the election of a Chief Executive and development of a new goverment is a major plot.
* In ''WorldWarZ'' the ability to hold to the democratic process in the midst of a ZombieApocalypse is a major part of one of the survivors' stories.

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[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''[[Series/BattlestarGalacticaReimagined Battlestar Galactica]]'' has two such elections, for vice president and president. Let's just say that the colonials got what they voted for when they elected Baltar.
* ''Series/GilligansIsland'' had an election, they elected Gilligan.
** Which is why they [[TooDumbToLive deserve to die]].
* ''Series/{{Jericho}}'' legally elected a new, (and less competent) mayor not long after the catastrophe.
* In ''Series/TheTribe,'' [[TheDragon Ebony]], an authoritarian [[ManipulativeBastard manipulative bitch]] was elected as city leader.
* ''Series/StargateUniverse'' doesn't really have an election. But that doesn't prevent them from having similar petty power struggles.
* Despite ''Series/{{Lost}}'''s major theme of leadership, there's never any talk of elections. Leaders arise within the camp, leaders are chosen through a complex process within the Others, and the island's Protector gets picked from a long list of "candidates" - but no, no elections. In season 3, when one character hears rumors of a vote to exile him, another scoffs at this, saying "Vote? Since when did anyone around here vote?"
* ''Series/{{Survivor}}'' has this sort of politicking in spades, though it works a bit differently since elections don't decide the leader, they decide who's VotedOffTheIsland. The [[{{Realpolitik}} nature of the game]] plus casts full of strong-willed personalities means it's almost ''never'' simple.
* There's a messed up version at the end of ''Series/TheWalkingDead'' season 2. Rick is being heavily questioned and generally the butt of everyone's frustration when they're forced to flee the farm and he reveals a secret he'd been hiding from the end of season 1. Feeling that he wasn't getting any credit for keeping them alive despite all odds, he basically pulls a "vote of no confidence" ''on himself!'' He dared all the other survivors to either band with him or, if they were as angry and convinced that he was incompetent as they said, go their own way. The season ends with everyone mutely staying in their makeshift camp.
* An episode of MyNameIsEarl flashes back to the gang's experience in Y2K: convinced the world has ended and they're the only surviving humans (not realizing that everybody is just at the parade), the gang decides to live in a Big Lots, and at first they try each living in their own isolationist area of the store, then after Randy resolves a conflict, they unanimously elect him President, which grants him absolutely no power or authority.

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[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Despite being all monarchies, ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' has the PlayerCharacter able to [[KingmakerScenario influence (or dictate) two elections for King]] during the oncoming Blight apocalypse. While just placing a new monarch guarantees soldiers, depending on the choices made beforehand is whether the kings (and/or queen) do well in the resulting peacetime.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 2}}'' the United States government, which lives inside an abandoned oil rig and is thus called "The Enclave", holds presidential elections just like in the times before the nuclear war. However, it is hinted that there is only one candidate who would rule for years. In any case, only about a thousand people lived on the rig, and so the franchise is miniscule and definitely not representative of the will of the American people.
** In ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'' [[spoiler:John Henry Eden]] didn't even try this and he can be talked into killing himself because of it.
*** Likewise Dave, of the Republic of Dave, asks that you help with the election. The five voters are inclined to vote for Dave, but the player can perform some election fraud to get somebody else elected, who immediately declares himself dictator for life.
**** [[TakeAThirdOption How about]] [[YouKillItYouBoughtIt The Republic Of Player?]]
**** Or you can rig the election for [[OnlySaneMan Rosie]] to win, since she has a much clearer head than anyone else in the republic.
** There's also the New California Republic, which is a tribal village made up of Vault 15 survivors turned US {{expy}}. By ''[[VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas New Vegas]]'' it has grown exponentially, having taken all of California through aggressive expansion and is looking to colonise [[VivaLasVegas the Mojave Wasteland]]. Generally, its government mostly resembles the United States, but is probably a little more corrupt (and currently trending towards authoritarianism).
*** Specifically, a little more corrupt and currently trending towards authoritarianism compared to ''our'' United States. They've a long, long way to go before they reach the corruption and authoritarianism of the pre-War USA of Fallout (for one thing, they don't use peaceful protestors for human experimentation).
** Not to mention the detailed story of Vault 11, which involved holding elections for a sacrifice, although to be fair, that was kind of doomed for disaster from the start, and didn't need much prodding to descend into madness.
** When talking with Mr. House in ''New Vegas'', if you object to his plans to rule over humanity as a benevolent but authoritarian dictator, he'll respond by telling you that if you want to see where democracy leads, then you just need to "look out the window."
* Every human settlement in ''VideoGame/TheLastOfUs''. Yes, even [[spoiler:the winter resort cannibals]]; you can overhear some of them talking about putting the leader up to a vote.
* In ''{{VideoGame/Rebuild}}'', one of the possible victory conditions is reclaiming the city hall from the zombies and drafting a new Constitution.

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[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* In ''Webcomic/AllMannerOfBad'', the survivors are led by competent and benevolent 'dictator' Raul. When Heller is dissatisfied with being ordered around by a former employee [[TheIllegal without a green card]], he calls for elections. [[spoiler:Raul wins, of course.]] It helps to point out that [[strike:most]] ''all'' of their human antagonists are part of "kingdoms'' led by psychotic madmen and women.

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[[folder: Real Life ]]

* Mere trifles like UsefulNotes/WorldWarII or UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar do not stop the US from holding presidential elections, though in both cases the incumbent was reelected (in the Civil War at least, that was not a foregone conclusion: Lincoln was ''extremely'' unpopular for most of the campaign, until the tide began to turn late in 1864).
** The Confederacy's government during the final days of the Civil War follows this. Jefferson Davis and the remains of his administration fled from city to city with much of their records trying to maintain some semblance of authority until they were finally captured. However, there were two different Confederate Congresses elected, the first being elected in 1861, and the second in 1863 and 1864. For reference, as of 2012, the 113th United States Congress sits.
* Great Britain went one better: it held a general election towards the end of UsefulNotes/WorldWarII (between the defeat of Germany and the defeat of Japan) in which UsefulNotes/WinstonChurchill was swept out of office.
** Although this was a shock to Churchill and the rest of the Conservatives, it wasn't all that surprising in hindsight. The British people had just been through a six-year ordeal demonstrating what tremendous feats their country was capable of when a strong government was calling the shots. They decided they'd rather let Atlee and Labour put that power to work rebuilding the country than let Churchill and the Conservatives dismantle it after Japan was defeated.
** To explain: the British parliamentary session is required to last up to 5 years, though elections have often been held earlier. An election was due in 1940, but when WWII broke out, elections were suspended, leaving a ten year gap with no elections from 1935-1945 (the longest since the Civil War). The reason this could be done is that in Britain, parliament can basically amend the "constitution" at will. In recent years, signing up to the European Convention of Human Rights has introduced some limitations on this power.
** One of the larger communal bunkers in London during the Blitz held elections under the command of their most popular resident; a three foot high entertainer. Oddly inspiring in its way.
* Averted for military personnel in most captivity situations or where a group is cut off from outside contact for any serious length of time. In such a case, authority automatically goes to the highest ranked line officer or senior enlisted, who has authority over all subordinate military personnel in the group. He can then delegate tasks to certain people, place them in charge of certain areas of responsibility, and so on. The military being what is it, this usually works out rather well for them. Civilians in the captive or disaster-struck group are welcome to take part in the process by taking direction from the officer in charge, or pooling resources and tasks with the military-led group, but it is generally accepted that a civilian will not be placed in charge of the military subgroup as a whole. Unless s/he is already an elected official of some sort, which complicates things a bit.
* In the chaos that ushered in the Russian Civil War, Red Army units nonetheless elected their commanders (never "officers") by popular vote. This practice declined as the conflict wore on, however.
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