Rights-based or procedural justifications of democracy are insufficient with regard both to the legitimacy of the institutions required for democratic rule and to the consequences of the dynamics of democracy over time. This article provides in its first part a new conception of a basic democratic structure, which defines the normative criterion for legitimacy (and not only its application) by combining legislative procedures, the strict ordering of the different branches of government, and the rule of law. In its second part the article analyzes the implications this new definition has for (political) freedom, the core normative concept in democratic theories. Democracy fully depends on its citizens’ freedom, but at the same time they cannot exercise their freedom in any other form than in a democracy. Democracy is thus both a presupposition and the expression of freedom. In conclusion this article argues that this revision leads to an idea of transnational democracy.