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About this book

This major new text provides an original and comprehensive assessment of key contemporary trends in democratic politics and governance across major established democracies of the world.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Abstract
Although often in quite imperfect form, democracy has spread throughout the world in successive waves (Diamond and Plattner, 1993; Merkel, 1999), and the number of democracies has tripled in the last 30 years (Morlino, 2008). The watchdog organization Freedom House counted 87 full democracies in the world in 2010, representing almost half of the independent polities and of the global population (Flinders, 2012: 8–9). Furthermore, anti-system parties challenging democratic institutions, such as those of the extreme Right in the interwar period, or those of the far Left before the breakdown of communism, have nearly disappeared in most established democracies. It is thus no surprise that Russell J. Dalton (2008: 251) concludes his book Citizen Politics with the assertion that ‘by some measures, the present may be considered the golden age of democracy’. But perhaps such an assessment is too optimistic. This is what the present book argues.
Yannis Papadopoulos

Chapter 1. Party Democracy Challenged

Abstract
As mentioned in the introduction, representative democracy is above all party democracy, in the sense that political parties are the main actors in representative institutions. In some countries, such as Italy and Belgium, the role of political parties has been, or still remains, so prominent that the countries have been labelled ‘partitocracies’. Party domination of political life has been enabled by the deep penetration of party organizations into society, a phenomenon that specialists call the partyness of society. Traditionally, parties not only recruit political leaders but also play a crucial role in expressing, aggregating and filtering social demands in the process of ‘input-formulation’ in the political system. They are also key players in making collectively binding decisions and in the authoritative allocation of public resources: this process of ‘output-formulation’ is typically the realm of ‘party government’.
Yannis Papadopoulos

Chapter 2. Mediatization and Audience Democracy

Abstract
This chapter addresses the consequences of another change that strongly impacts politics: the growing role of the media. Mediatization of politics — a manifestation of the more general trend towards a ‘media society’ in which the media penetrates most social spheres — means that the media becomes a political actor in its own right and that it has become the predominant player that informs the public about politics. The media is increasingly necessary for political communication at a time when communicating is of paramount importance for political actors. Consequently, politicians try to make their behaviour compatible with media requirements, so that the media logic — the rules and norms under which the media operates — penetrates the political system (Esser and Pfetsch, 2004: 387; Schulz, 2004: 89). A trade-off occurs: to gain media influence, political actors accept that they will lose their autonomy and that their behaviour to a significant extent will be dictated by the rules of the game that the media sets. Not only are parties now more heavily dependent on the media than in the past, but the media is also more independent from them.
Yannis Papadopoulos

Chapter 3. Internationalization, Europeanization, and Multilevel Governance

Abstract
The previous chapters dealt with important changes that affect a large number of established democracies. Changes such as the transformations of parties or the impact of media on politics manifest themselves at the domestic level; however, one must consider additional changes — those that develop beyond the nation-state, but affect the domestic political arena.
Yannis Papadopoulos

Chapter 4. Collaborative Governance and Cooperative Policy-Making

Abstract
This chapter shows that cooperative forms of governance discussed in the context of ‘multilevelness’ in the previous chapter are part of a more general trend whereby the state loses ‘its monopoly on collectively binding decision-making and on the production of public goods’ (Pauly and Grande, 2005: 15). Thus, the nation-state’s loss of centrality is related not only to ‘multilevelness’ but also to policy-making in networks that include non-state actors:
In recent decades, we have witnessed the strengthening of international organizations; the establishment of new, regional levels of political decision-making; the emergence of new forms of governance and new types of interaction and cooperation between public and private actors; and the emergence of new roles for private actors in the production of public goods. (Pauly and Grande, 2005: 15)
Yannis Papadopoulos

Chapter 5. Empowering the Citizen or the Customer?

Abstract
Reforms driven by a concern to involve citizens more directly and more closely in the policy process take place in parallel to the closer involvement of organized interests under the label of collaborative governance, as discussed in the previous chapter. We know that collaborative governance is primarily triggered by the need to increase the expertise of public authorities and support for their policies. This chapter first discusses deliberative and participatory experiments which, by contrast, appear to reflect a will to make citizens become more interested and competent in public matters, as well as allowing them to express their preferences on policy-making. Although concerns about increasing the legitimacy of policies through participation are not absent, one common characteristic of many participatory experiments is that neither elected officials nor well-established groups should, at least in principle, be the key players.
Yannis Papadopoulos

Chapter 6. Limits To Majority Rule: Agencification and Judicialization

Abstract
Representative democracy is, above all else, party democracy (see Chapter 1). More fundamentally, democracy is the exercise of power (kratein) by the demos. In representative democracies, this kind of power is exercised by the party, perhaps the coalition of parties, that has a majority in parliament or, perhaps more precisely, by the government enjoying support from one or several parties in the parliament. Although there is a philosophical debate as to whether unanimity would be a more robust basis of legitimacy for collectively binding decisions (Manin, 1997), in practice the majority principle has established itself as a sufficient basis for legitimacy for formal decision-making in democratic regimes, with the exception of specific requirements for qualified majorities, most notably for constitutional revisions. Competitive elections reduce the risk of abuse of power by the majority: The perspective of alternation of power allows not only for counting on a reversal of decisions with which the minority disagrees, but it also acts as a self-restraining mechanism for majorities, too. Knowing that they are not going to enjoy the benefits of power forever, majorities would not appreciate being exposed to retaliation by those they have oppressed. This mechanism does not protect, however, the so-called ‘structural’ minorities: The minorities that, because of their religion or their language, for instance, are in permanent numerical inferiority and cannot reasonably expect that they will become part of the majority in the future.
Yannis Papadopoulos

Chapter 7. The Winter of Democracy?

Abstract
In this final chapter, I first return to the major issues and trends discussed and try to connect them meaningfully. I then outline the major consequences for our political systems generated by these trends by identifying four major challenges that affect representative democracy. The final section is devoted to a (hopefully) balanced reply to the question of whether democracy is in a crisis or not.
Yannis Papadopoulos
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