Good societies - De Anza College

• Derived from Greek demokratia, demos (people)
and kratos (rule) = rule by the people
• Direct democracy = people participate directly in making
• Representative democracy = interests and views
represented by others
• Schumpeter: all citizens eligible to vote on who will
represent them in free, fair, and periodic elections
• Freedom House (2001), 121 of world’s 192
governments (63%) qualified as constitutionally
democratic systems with competitive, multiparty
elections (most ever in history)
• Huntington: transition from autocracy to democracy
proceeded in three waves
• First wave = started with American and French
revolutions; receded in 1930s
• Second wave = started with defeat of fascism (WWII)
• Germany, Austria, and Japan emerged democratic; many former
European colonies adopted democratic constitutions on
• Receded in 1950s-1960s with return to authoritarianism in
many African and Asian countries
• Third wave = started as second wave was receding;
Portugal (1974) emerged from dictatorship, followed by
Greece, Spain; Latin America (Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia,
Argentina and Brazil); Asia (India and the Philippines,
Korea, Turkey, Pakistan); in Europe (Berlin Wall fell; Poland,
Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and finally the
Soviet Union itself)
Waves of Democracy
Mauritius: island nation
of over one million
located off southeast
coast of Africa
Ethnically and religiously
No authoritarian
Stable democracy since
independence (1968)
“Vibrant and healthy civil society that cuts across
ethnic cleavages”
Civic organizations act as bridges across religious
and ethnic boundaries
Checks and balances
No standing army
Independent judiciary
Professional civil service
Supermajorities required to make constitutional
Constitutionally recognized ethnic and religious
groups guaranteed seats in parliament
Constitution provides for office of Leader of
Opposition whom president must consult on
some issues
Mauritius does have ethnic conflicts and suffers
from corruption, but its democratic record is the
best in Africa
Mauritius – A Democratic
• Range of explanations (see Moaz)
• Economic explanations
• Oil producing countries of Middle East; wealthy but
not democratic – Why? Curse of oil = authoritarian
rulers use oil revenues to pacify public
• Economic development causes democratic
stability, not democratization; poor democracies
more likely to collapse into authoritarianism
• International environment
• Diffusion effect = countries surrounded by
democracies find it in their interest to copy their
Transitions to Democracy
• “From Huntington’s initial hypothesis of preconditions for democracy
to each of the fruitful modifications offered by Gallagher, Herb, and
Bellin, we seemed to have come full circle indeed. Ultimately, what
social scientists know about democratization is well-summed up by
Bellin: ‘A host of conditions, including a minimal level of elite
commitment, a minimal level of national solidarity, a minimal level of
per capita GNP, and…impartial and effective state institutions must be
• Will More Countries Become Democratic,
• What Makes Democracies Endure,
• Why Democracies Collapse,
• Presidential system = executive and legislative branches
separated from each other
• Sovereignty shared between legislature and president, creating checks
and balances between them
• Presidents directly elected by people; serve for fixed terms in office; do not
owe their jobs to the legislature
• Parliamentary = legislature directly elected by voters
• Government (prime minister and Cabinet elected committee of
legislature); fused together, former empowering latter
• Leader of government (prime minister) indirectly elected by legislature
• PM governs as long as they have majority in legislature
• Most third wave democracies chose presidential form
• Can lead to gridlock when there is disagreement between the two
• Criticized for being unrepresentative
• May offer more accountability
Presidential vs. Parliamentary
• Single member districts
• Only one legislator elected from each district (e.g., U.S.)
• No benefit for second place finishers; only one winner
• Multimember districts
• Sweden: number of legislators from each district depends
upon district size
• Israel and Netherlands: entire country is one multi-member
electoral district
• Winner is selected from list of candidates that parties
submit to voters to get seated. Runner–up wins, too, and so
on down the line, depending on number of seats accorded
to district
Electoral Rules
• Plurality rules = U.K., U.S., and Canada
• Majority rules = France – double-ballot elections;
presidential candidates must receive a majority of votes to
• Run-off between top two vote getters
• Proportional representation (PR)
• Once parties attain a certain threshold of votes, they are
awarded seats in the legislature based on the percentage
of votes they receive
• Netherlands: ten parties competed in the 2006 parliamentary election
• Christian Democratic Appeal won 27 % of the vote and received 27% of
the seats; Labour won 21% of the vote and won 21% of seats; all the
way down to the smallest party, Reformed Political Party, which received
1 % of the vote and received 1% of the seats
From Votes to Seats
• Political actors think strategically about electoral rules especially as
more and more people were given franchise
• Groups and parties wanted rules to work to their advantage
PR works to advantage of ethnic and regional minorities
Most powerful supporters of PR were elites because they were more afraid
that working-class mobilization would propel socialist parties to victory
Plurality and majority rules in single member districts could be dominated
by larger numbers of working classes
Elites believed proportional representation would blunt power of socialist
parties, requiring them to share power in order to govern
• Electoral rules are not neutral; can give advantage to one party over
• Parties sometimes try to change rules, but electoral systems rarely
Electoral Rules & Party Systems
• Shape party systems (recurring patterns of party
behavior resulting from political competition)
• SMD with plurality rules create bias toward two-party
• Voters do not like to “waste” their vote
• Countries with multi-member districts selected by
proportional rules tend to have multi-party systems
• More accurately reflect diversity of opinion within country
• Can become ungovernable with too much diversity of
opinion, no majority coalition
• Impact on party discipline
• Greater in PR systems; more party loyalty
Electoral Rules & Party Systems
• Better invest society’s
limited resources (no
low-yield projects for
• Can ignore demands for
short term versus long
• Consistent, stable,
orderly environment for
long-term economic
• Rule of law creates
predictable environment
• Benefit from debate,
access to information,
• Openness and
adaptability; can reverse
policy mistakes
• Citizens freer to be
creative and innovative
Democracy, Authoritarianism, &
Economic Development
Record for
regimes is
Supporters of democracy
celebrate prosperity of West
compared to collapse of
Communist one-party states
Supporters of authoritarianism
point to superior growth of
People’s Republic of China
compared to democratic India
Democracies = two
advantages: greater range of
choices for women; better
record of steady economic
performance and avoiding
calamitous outcomes
Democracy, Authoritarianism, &
Economic Development
Physical Well-being
• Results inconclusive in
terms of infant mortality
• Democracies tend to have
best average infant
mortality rates (12.53 per
1,000 live births)
• Most authoritarian states
second best (27.57)
• Semi-democracies third
• Semi-authoritarian states
worst (57.48)
• Similar results in terms of
literacy rates
• Democracies ranked best
• Authoritarian regimes
second (87.39)
• Semi-democracies third
• Semi-authoritarian regimes
last (66.68)
Democracy, Authoritarianism, & Capabilities
• Most authoritarian states
best record on safety
(homicide rates, 5.43
murders per 100k citizens)
• Democracies close behind
(5.91 homicides)
• Semi-democracies (15.28
homicides per 100K citizens)
• Semi-authoritarian systems
• Democratic states
better overall
• Semi-democratic states
not better than semiauthoritarian states
Democracy, Authoritarianism, and