This article is concerned with the relationship between the right of self-determination and the political system of multiparty democracy. It considers whether international law supports the view that operation of the right of self-determination requires a multiparty political system. It also questions the position that elections in a multiparty setting lead to an automatic realisation of the right of self-determination. The article shows that the concept of democracy and the idea of self-determination to some degree share historical and philosophical underpinnings. But in contemporary international law we are dealing with self-determination as a human right and not with self-determination as an absolute political principle. As a human right, self-determination is subject to several limitations and should not be interpreted too broadly. The article concludes that in contemporary international law a multiparty political system is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for the realisation of the right of self-determination.