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Democracy by cuiliqing


 The term democracy comes from the Greek
  language and means "rule by the (simple)
 Like modern democracy, they were created as
  a reaction to a concentration and abuse of
  power by the rulers. Yet the theory of modern
  democracy was not formulated until the Age of
  Enlightment (17th/18th centuries), when
  philosophers defined the essential elements of
  democracy: separation of powers, basic civil
  rights/human rights, religious liberty and
  separation of church and state.
Since 1900, the number of independent states has grown from
55 to nearly 200. Today, governments in 120 countries are
formed by democratic method. About 62.5% of the world’s
population live in those countries.

Key events which led to this expansion:
The defeat of fascism in World War 2 (1939-45)
The fall of Western colonial empires (1950s-70s)
The fall of Western authoritarian regimes in Southern Europe
and Latin America (1970s-1980s)
The fall of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the
Soviet Union (1989-91)
Democracy and Transition: Map of Freedom
Freedomhouse Ratings
          Different Paths to Democracy
• We can identify variations among well-established,
  democratic regimes (US, Western Europe)
• Some states reject the Western democratic model (e.g.
• Some outer-European states aspirate for Western-style
  democracy, but have a weak socioeconomic base and
  alternative traditions that may compete with democracy
  (Latin America)
• Also, there are successful economic modernizers being not
  within Western cultural traditions and political systems. They
  are experimenting with their own hybrid forms of democracy
  (East Asia)
• Another group are non-Western countries that have neither
  the socioeconomic base for democracy nor a clear and strong
  democratic historical and cultural tradition (e.g. Islamic
  countries and sub-Saharan Africa).
   The Classical Theory of Democracy
U.S. president Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
defined democracy as: “Government of the people,
by the people, for the people”
The triple meaning:
1. Democracy as source of state authority –
   power of the people
2. Democracy as the purpose of government –
   the common good
3. Democracy as a method of choosing political
   leaders – by the people
Joseph Schumpeter (1942):
The classical theory is too broad and vague. It is
much more practical to narrow the meaning of
democracy to the method:
“The democratic method is that institutional
arrangement for arriving at political decisions in
which individuals acquire the power to decide by
means of a competitive struggle for the people’s
*Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and
Democracy. New York: Harper, 1947, p.269
Two major dimensions of the democratic method:*
• contestation – free and fair competition between
• participation – all adult citizens have the right to
The use of this method requires the freedoms of:
expression (to speak publicly and publish one’s
views), assembly (to gather for political purposes),
association (to form political organizations)
 *Robert A. Dahl, Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition. New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1971; Samuel Huntington, The Third Wave. Democratization in the Late
Twentieth Century. University of Oklahoma Press, 1991
In contemporary politics, the term “democracy”
is used mostly in the Schumpeterian, rather than
classical sense:
Representative democracy
Electoral democracy
Formal democracy
“The people” elect a government and keep it
    Different types of conception of democracy

Procedural Conceptions             Substantive Conceptions
  Minimal                Middle-ground       Maximal
  conceptions            Conceptions         conceptions
Three Ways of Conceptualizing Democracy

1. A procedural or minimal conception. Among
the first group of scholars (such as Joseph
Schumpeter, Robert A. Dahl, Seymour Martin
Lipset), the Schumpeterian definition is a
minimal conception of democracy, which
emphasizes the single most important defining
property of democracy – the authority of
government derives from the consent of people
or electoral participation through free, open and
contested elections.
2. A substantive or maximal conception. Some
other scholars tend to stress conceptual
breadth, which involves a larger number of
defining properties intrinsic to democracy.
Under this definition, the conception of
democracy embraces effective and responsible
government, informed and rational deliberation,
honest and openness in politics, economic
equality, equal participation and power, social
justice, and various other civic virtues.
3. A middle-ground position. Still others, such as Terry
Lynn Karl, choose a middle ground for defining
democracy in order to avoid either an overly narrow or
overly broad definition, with the concept being defined
with reference to a small number of characteristics that
distinguish it from other political systems.
1. allow the contestation over power in free and fair
2. accountability of the ruler to the ruled
3. checks and balances in the exercise of government
4. the neutrality of the armed forces
5. protection of civil and political liberty and rights of
    every citizen.
                MODELS OF DEMOCRACY
                           Individual Rights/
                           Limited Gov’t

Low Mass                                        High Mass
Participation                                   Participation

          Elite                           Majoritarian
          Democracy                       Democracy
                            General Welfare
       Models of Democracy
• Majoritarian democracy
    • most important goal is maximizing mass
    • high mass participation will result in
      decisions being made that maximize the
      general welfare
• Elite democracy
    • most important goal is the general
    • requires an elite capable of pursuing
      the long-term interests of society
       –actually values low mass
• Liberal democracy
    • most important goal is protecting
      individual rights
    • does not prefer low mass
      participation but may be willing to
      accept it
Models of Democracy: Critiques
   – Majoritarian democratic critiques of
     other models
     • Elite democracy – there is no such thing
       as an elite that is not self-interested and
       will look after the good of the general
     • Liberal democracy – emphasis on
       individual rights is used to limit
       government in order to protect small,
       priveleged groups
– Elite democratic critiques of other
  • Liberal democracy – undue focus on
    individual rights limits government’s
    ability to pursue the general welfare of
    the community
  • Majoritarian democracy – masses are too
    uninterested, incompetent or, at worst,
    dangerous to be given control over
– Liberal democratic critiques of other
   • Elite democracy – if unchecked,
     elites will use power to infringe the
     rights of individuals
   • Majoritarian democracy – if
     unchecked, majority will infringe
     the rights of minorities (tyranny of
     the majority)
Models of Democracy – Viewing Democracy Over

• Elite democrats
   – the masses will always be incapable of making decisions
      for the long-term common good
• Liberal democrats
   – elites and the majorities will always be prone to infringing
      individual rights if given the chance
• Majoritarian democrats
   – elites will always be self-serving
   – masses can learn over time to become better democratic
      citizens if given a meaningful opportunity to do so
As a model, it sounds attractive, but what
happens in real life?
If society is large, complex, divided, can it get
organized to control the state – especially a
large and powerful state?
Perhaps, only to a limited degree…
Things to Remember...
• There is no one or single accepted model of
   Within a range of basic elements (consent of the
  governed, protection of individual rights), democracy
  means different things to different people
• Democracy is a contested concept
  “People’s power”? But can “the people” rule?
  “democracy” versus “oligarchy”
• The iron law of oligarchy is a political theory, first
  developed by the German sociologist Robert Michels
  in his 1911 book, Political Parties. It states that all
  forms of organization, regardless of how democratic
  or autocratic they may be at the start, will eventually
  and inevitably develop into oligarchies. The reasons
  behind the oligarchization process are: the
  indispensability of leadership; the tendency of all
  groups, including the organization leadership, to
  defend their interests; and the passivity of the led
• He found that, paradoxically, the socialist parties of
  Europe, despite their democratic ideology and
  provisions for mass participation, seemed to be
  dominated by their leaders, just like traditional
  conservative parties. The more liberal and
  democratic modern era allowed the formation of
  organizations with innovative and revolutionary
  goals, but as such organizations become more
  complex, they became less and less democratic and
  revolutionary. Michels formulated the "Iron Law of
  Oligarchy": "Who says organization, says oligarchy."
 Democratic transition refers to a political process
  of movement aimed at establishing a democratic
  political system, initiated either from above or
  below or a combination of both, allowing
  bargaining and compromise among different
  political forces for the resolution of social
  conflicts, institutionalizing the pluralist structures
  and procedures by which different political forces
  are allowed to compete over the power,
  regularizing transfer of power, and engaging in
  the fundamental transformation of political
 Democratic Consolidation is a discernible
  process by which the democratic norms, rules,
  and institutions constitute “the only game in
  town,” the only legitimate framework for
  seeking and exercising political power, and
  through      which     democracy     becomes
  standardized and deeply internalized in
  institutional, social, and cultural life. In
  consolidated democracy, there may be intense
  conflicts, but no significant political actors
  attempt to achieve their objectives by illegal,
  unconstitutional, or antidemocratic means.
Hadenius & Berg-Schlosser (2004: 98) apply four
basic criteria of democratic “consolidation” :
• An unbroken series of free and fair elections
• Institutionalized changes of government
• The absence of significant anti-democratic
• Mass support for democratic principles
          Democracy and the Rule of Law
   Why is the rule of law a pre-requisite for democratic
    consolidation and democracy? Rule of law obliges the state to
    follow objective rights.
   As Guillermo O’Donnell explains, under a rule of law all
    citizens are equal before the law, which is fairly and
    consistently applied to all by an independent judiciary, and
    the laws themselves are clear, publicly known, universal,
    stable, and non-retroactive. What makes a rule of law
    democratic is that the legal system defends the political rights
    and procedures of democracy, upholds everyone’s civil rights,
    and reinforces the authority of other agencies of horizontal
    accountability that ensure the legality and propriety of official
Rule of Law: Pre-requisites

The most important conditions aiding the
development of law-based rule are:
• the diffusion of liberal and democratic values
  at both popular and elite levels
• strong bureaucratic traditions of competence
  and impartiality, and
• adequate institutional and economic means
Components of Rule of Law

• All actions of the state are determined by law
• All citizens are to be treated equally/The law is
  no respecter of persons
• Independent courts secure civil and human

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