Crucial to the understanding of delegate democracy is the theory's view of the meaning of "representative democracy." Representative democracy is seen as a form of governance whereby a single winner is determined for a predefined jurisdiction, with a change of delegation only occurring after the preset term length (or in some instances by a forced recall election if popular support warrants it). The possibility usually exists within representation that the "recalled" candidate can win the subsequent electoral challenge.
This is contrasted with most forms of governance referred to as "delegative." Delegates may not, but usually do, have specific limits on their "term" as delegates, nor do they represent specific jurisdictions. Some key differences include:
Optionality of term lengths.
Possibility for direct participation.
The delegate's power is decided in some measure by the voluntary association of members rather than an electoral victory in a predefined jurisdiction. (See also: Single Transferable Vote.)
Delegates remain re-callable at any time and in any proportion.
Often, the voters have the authority to refuse observance of a policy by way of popular referendum overriding delegate decisions or through nonobservance from the concerned members. This is not usually the case in representative democracy.
Possibility exists for differentiation between delegates in terms of what form of voting the member has delegated to them. (For example: "you are my delegate on matters of national security and farm subsidies.")