in this article, i propose to develop some considerations on the central debate that characterizes contemporary democratic theory, working on the one hand, with schumpeterian minimalism, and on the other, with one of his rivals, deliberative theory. i start from the premise that, through the lenses of minimalism, democracy appears as a market; through the lenses of deliberative theory, it appears as a forum. using these abstractions, i go on to bi-dimensional figure that dahl proposes, originally made up of two axes: competition (y) and participation (x), and now composed by the axes of market (y) and forum (x). the analogy is meant to bring out the crucial points in the theories dealt with, in the attempt to facilitate aprehension of the complex - and often confusing - web of discussions that surround the issue. i finish with the conclusion that it is possible to think of the debate within modern democractic theory as needing to focus, simultaneously, on both the minimalist and the deliberative viewpoints - market and forum - because the interpretation of democracy as market dos not exclude its interpretation as forum, just as competition, in dahl, does not exclude participation, although both may vary independently.