This article sets out a number of central questions which should be kept in mind in any discussion of the relationship of democracy and violence. Democracy aims at the exclusion of violence, and theoretically should render violence unnecessary, since all groups and individuals should be able to express their views and interests through a process of rational deliberation. Yet this is obviously not always the case. The democratic state, like any other, uses violence when necessary to maintain itself in existence and to resist those violent movements that reject democratic processes. The danger is that such use of violence may escape democratic control and undermine foundational rights which are supposedly being defended. Some contemporary democracies are challenged by violent movements, but these are in many cases expressions of a demand for recognition and inclusion. The question thus has to be probed of how democratic societies should respond to such challenges. It is suggested here that institutional reform and a new discourse of politics should be important elements of such a response.