Models of Democracy and Post-Democracy Alistair Cole
Regime Typologies • Traditional comparativists sought to distinguish between different types of regime: that is clusters of regimes which share sufficient characteristics to enable them to be considered as belonging to a group of similar regimes. • Comparative politics traditionally operated a tripartite division of the world into: liberal democracies, Communist regimes, ‘third world’ states (this last being the most unsatisfactory of the three). None of these categories was ever satisfactory. • The Political Development school of the 1960s and 1970s assumed eventual convergence to liberal democratic norms • Liberal democracy was assumed to be superior…
The ‘loss of clusters’ • The traditional tryptic has been challenged by the evolution of history, not least the collapse of communism in 1989-1991. • Unit of analysis less likely to be single country, more identifying explanatory variables across countries
Liberal Democracy aka Gordon Smith, 1986 • political competition for the highest offices of state, as expressed by competing political parties, • the free interplay of interests, and an acceptance of political and economic pluralism • alternation in power ( or at least the theoretical possibility of it). • recognition of a boundary between the state and civil society, implying freedom of the media. (liberal democracy) • recognition of the rights of legal opposition. • a recognition of constitutionalism: i.e. that political processes are regularised by reference to respect for duly established rules and constitutional norms. This might take the form of a written constitution, or an unwritten form; but of greater importance than this is the extent to which each branch of government theoretically operates within the strict parameters of legal rules, safeguard against arbitrary government.
Limitations and criticism • This classic definition of liberal democracy is rather a formalistic one; it does not consider, by itself, whether democracies are capable of providing effective government, of delivering the goods. • It is one based on a model of competitive elitism: alternative elites stand by ready to conduct the affairs of government. It is one that requires a minimal democratic participation. • Too much participation can be destabilising; in one version of this (Lipset and Bendix) democratic stability requires limited participation. • The claim sustained by the liberal democracies to allow for the free interplay of democratic forces has in most cases proved accurate: this can be measured by the fact that most of the core 20 liberal democracies have at some time managed an alternation in power. • Moreover, it has been rare for any one government to remain in power for more than ten years
Limitations and criticism 2 • Marxist critique: the liberties safeguarded by liberal democracy are excessively negative and formalistic, designed primarily to safeguard existing property relations • Marxist critique of the notion of pluralism - i.e. a dispersal of power throughout the political, social and economic systems - is a myth; that the pluralist idea of fair interaction between competing interests is erroneous, with the odds heavily stacked in favour of those possessing capital; and that the idea of democracy itself is a misnomer, since power is exercised by a small pro-capitalist elite. • liberal democracy has proved intolerant of genuine attempts at revolutionary change: any attempt fundamentally to challenge the norms of capitalism, e.g, has invited a reversion away from democracy towards dictatorship- such as in Chile with the overthrow of Allende's Marxist government in 1973. • Reverse: attempts to impose democracy through arms, as in Irak. Huntingdon: crisis of civilizations and imposing democracy through the barrel of a gun. S. Huntingdon, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century, 1991
Six Models of European Democracy • D. Held, Models of democracy,1987, 1996, 2005 • Held 1: Athenian Democracy • Small communities, direct participation & sovereignty (polis) over all public affairs • Office short term, by election, lot & rotation • Women & slaves excluded • Low participation • Domination by demagogues & factions as/ more likely than ‘deliberation’; instability
Held 2: Competitive elitist democracy (Majoritarian Model) • Theoretical roots in Weber & Schumpeter • Influenced by the protective model of democracy; dominant 1945-70s – rather similar to the model outlined above • Key feature: competition between alternative elites • Governments are strong within parliaments, but subordinate to elections, and hence parliaments, over time. This is particularly apposite to describe British democracy. • Participation limited and intermittent. Too much particpipation destabilising (Lipset and Bendix)
Held 3: Legal Democracy (Consensual model) • State strongly constrained by the law/the ‘rule of law’ • Separation (sharing) of powers emphasised • Minimum role for state in society • Markets and free trade should be given fullest possible scope • Epitomised by l.C20th ‘neo-liberal’ trend
Held 4: Participatory Democracy • Inspired by developmental democracy & in C20th by Macpherson & Carole Pateman • A knowledgeable, participating citizenry is essential • Participation in regulating the state, local community/ies and the workplace • Party elites directly accountable to members • Need for consistency between power structures in public and private spheres. Democracy can not thrive of structures of civil society remain authoritarian. • Driver behind new social movements, participatory democracy
Beyond Held: Social Democracy • Dahrendorf: 1945-1980 welfare states added a substantive (material) basis to the largely procedural basis of liberal democracy. Democracy consists in a set of rights and duties, including expectations of welfare rights. Democracy is a form of social citizenship. • Bobbio: ‘Rolling back’ the welfare state implies rolling back/undermining democracy itself • R. Dahrendorf, After Social Democracy, 1980 • N. Bobbio, ‘Liberalism old and new’ in: idem. The Future of Democracy, 1987
C. Crouch, Postdemocracy, 2004 • Early C21st world-historical peak for democracy, in terms of its geographical range • But there are many problems in established democracies. Everywhere there is increasing abstention, dissatisfaction with performance of democratic regimes, a challenge to the effectiveness of democratic regimes • There is also, specifically, a problem with American democracy, which is bound to impact upon European countries. US leadership of democratic world established in the 1930s, on the basis of the Roosevelt Welfare state, when most of Europe turned Right. But since the 1980s, USA has changed fundamentally: it no longer represents value-based, or normative leadership. • For Crouch, post-Democracy is NOT non-democratic, nor anti-democratic, but it is satisfied with residual democratic and welfare rights. Individual market-based economic rights have the primacy over social or political rights • In post-democracy, social movements are less vibrant, especially those of Labour,,, and the trade unions are marginal actors
Post-Democracy (suite) • unions are marginalised • State as policeman → more prominent role for the state in regulating everyday lives, a more instrusive state • Wealth gap grows; taxation less redistributive with moves to the global economy • The poor return to pre-democratic condition of non-participation: in the US, this is flagrant, but is also evidence in western European democracies, where electoral registration has declined. Poor do not register; either because they do not have a home, or because they fear the State (for taxation purposes, e.g.). • The nature of political communication is changed in an age of mediatisation and soundbites. Genuine discussion in the public space fades away.
Lijphart’s Majoritarian and Consensual Democracies • Lijphart, A. (1984). Democracies. Patterns of Majoritarian and Consensus Government in twenty-one countries, • Lijphart, A. (1999). Patterns of Democracy. Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries.
Lijphart’s Majoritarian and Consensual Democracies • Executive-parties cluster • Concentration of executive power in a single party majority cabinet/broad coalitions • Domination of Executive-Legislative relations by the Executive/ an active legislature influencing policy • The prevalence of a two-party system/ a multi-party system • A majoritarian electoral system(first past the post or two ballot)/ a proportional electoral system • A pluralist interest group system, with ‘free-for –all’ bargaining/ a corporatist style pattern of interest mediation
Federal-Unitary cluster • Unitary and centralised government / devolved or federal government • Unicameral concentration of legislative power/powerful second chamber representing societal interests • Flexible constitutions/written constitutions • Legislative sovereignty re the constitution/constitutional arbitration in a system of shared and separated powers • Executive-dependent Central Banks/independent monetary authorities.
Influential? • European democracies, for Lijphart, could be divided according to these two poles. In practice, individual democracies would lie somewhere between the two extremes. Britain, for example, as the archetype of the Westminster model, was clearly the representative of the first camp; more divided countries, such as the Netherlands, of the second camp. • This model has long been very influential, as a basic way of differentiating between European democracies.
Lijphart’s 1999 study • study increased also addressed the issue of substantive outcomes. He considered which, of majoritarian or consensual democracies, performed better in relation to: A) Economic performance and B) Democratic quality. • Lijphart’s main conclusion was that consensus/negotiation democracy pole is far superior to the majoritarian, ‘winner-takes all’ one. • Lijhpart found that there was little difference between Consensual and Majoritarian democracies in relation to economic performance. • But that consensual, non-majoritarian democracies ensured a much higher democratic quality. • The consensus model ensures a positive logic of negotiation and compromise; whereas the Winner takes all system is inherently conflictual and negative sum.
Consociational Democacy • Lijphart’s concept of consociationalism was also very influential for many years. According to the consociational model, divided societies – such as the Netherlands or Belgium – could nonetheless support effective and consensual political systems, as a result of elite-level compromises between the main pillars represented in a society. • In a society divided by issues of religious identity, for example, elite level accommodation ensured broad support for the system. • The Lijphart model was a critique of the pretensions of the Westminster model of democracy and celebrated the fact that negotiation, compromise and coalition produced not only fairer, but also better politics.
A CRITIQUE OF LIJPHART • One such critique was that of Paul Penning. The first criticism: that this model betrayed the empirical reality, as much in Majoritarian systems, as in Consensual ones. • TheMajoritarian model did not necessarily produce a winner takes all mentality, because regular alternations in power meant that governments exercised power with caution. • Likewise, the negotiated consensual and consociational mechanisms of divided societies did not always succeed in producing a fairer, or more effective politics. • The role of institutional incentives could be overstressed in these accounts. In the consociational model, as in Belgium, this has clearly broken down, with territorial elites ‘repillarising’ Belgian society. P. Pennings, ‘Parliamentary control of the executive in 47 countries’, paper prepared for the ECPR, April 2000 @: http://www.essex.ac.uk/ECPR/events/jointsessions/paperarchive/copenhagen/ws10/pennings.PDF
Penning, 2000 • Penning argued that the Lijphart model exaggerated differences – and explained these overly in relation to institutional, rather than societal arguments. • The dichotomous view of there being two types of democracy is highly misleading. Contrary to Lijphart’s assumptions, strong executives do not automatically imply weak legislatures: this is far too mechanical and assumption, one that relies too much on structure and not enough on agency explanations.
Role of electoral system and coalitions • There have also been criticisms about the role of the electoral system. PR systems can create stalemate and instability, just as easily as they can create compromise and flexibility. On the other hand, ‘… majoritarian electoral systems and moderate multi-party systems, in particular, tend to generate slightly higher levels of institutional confidence than alternative arrangements' (p.234).” Institutional confidence is maintained because Majoritarian democracy can contribute to rapidly forming and maintaining stable governments”
Democratizing the Economy while Economizing on Democracy? Economic benefits/Democratic Drawbacks Prosperity, consumerism, rising middle classes State denationalized, decision-making dispersed Capitalism is European (and Global), Democracy Local National democracy: Government by, of and for the people + with Political participation, citizen representation, effective government + interest consultation EU ‘Democracy’ EU level: governance for and with National level: government by and of Puts pressure on National politics EU: policy without politics Nat’l : politics without policy
Challenges to National Democracy Citizen demobilization or radicalization Interest group politics, social movements, INGOs helps with ‘associative democracy’ with the people does little for representative democracy by and of the people ‘civil society’ not what it seems: expertocracy National government responses? Europeanization Blame-shifting, credit-taking on policies Silence on ‘polity’ issues Globalization Blame-shifting increases sense of powerlessness Whether ‘risk society’ (Blair) or ‘protection in globalization’ (Sarkozy)