Three Paradoxes of Democracy

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Three Paradoxes of
Democracy
Ideas of Larry Diamond
1. Conflict versus Consensus
Democracy is a system of institutionalized
competition for power.
Too much conflict can yield instability
Democracy requires conflict - but not too
much.
Cleavage must be tempered with
consensus
2. Representativeness versus
Governability
Democracy disperses power, prevents its
excessive concentration
But democracy must have what Alexander
Hamilton called “energy.”
All governments need to act quickly at times.
Democracies need to respond to group
demands, and sometimes to resist them.
Too much representation can yield paralysis.
The challenge: to represent conflicting interests
without being captured by them.
3. Consent versus
Effectiveness
Democracy means “rule by the people.”
But democracies must not only have the
consent of the people, they must also be
effective governments.
To be approved by the people, democracies
must provide effective performance across a
variety of issues.
But the process of gathering consent is not
always efficient.
Performance
Democracies doe not necessarily perform
more efficiently than do authoritarian
regimes.
Authoritarian regimes can ignore public
discontent while they press for long-term
payoffs.
Pinochet’s Chile is a good example.
Performance #2
Democracies do not inherently perform
better or worse economically than do
authoritarian regimes.
In the long run, democracies must
maintain a broad consensus on economic
policy.
Performance #3
But democracies are a more modern form
of governance.
Democracies can interact with more
complex and heterogeneous societies with
modern economies.
Modern and growing economies often
require modern governmental systems in
order to continue to grow in size and
complexity.
Adding Stability
One relatively easy way to add stability to
a democracy is to make is somewhat less
representative.
This can be accomplished in a
proportional representational setting by
raising the electoral threshold.
Germany - 5%, Israel - 1%, Turkey - 10%
Ethnic and Party Cleavages
There are four principal mechanisms for
managing potentially divisive ethnicity
within a democracy.
Ethnic cleavages never die.
They can destroy any society if they are
not managed effectively.
Rwanda and Burundi are two examples
among many.
Four mechanisms
Federalism
Proportionality in distribution of resources
and power
Minority rights
Sharing or rotation of power
Federal systems
Disperse conflict, transferring it to local
and state levels
Generate intraethnic conflict, pitting
different factions of ethnic group against
one another in the struggle to control
local and state governments
Induce interethnic cooperation, forming
coalitions along changing issue lines
Federal systems #2
Generate crosscutting cleavages when
some ethnic groups are split into different
states, with different interests,
advantages, and needs
Reduce disparities by enabling backward
and minority peoples to rise within their
own state educational and bureaucratic
systems.
Federal systems #3
Federal systems give all major territorially
based ethnic groups some control over
their own affairs, and some opportunity to
gain power at multiple levels.
But... STABLE DEMOCRACY IS
IMPOSSIBLE IN A SOCIETY WHERE
ETHNIC CLEAVAGES ARE DEEP AND
POWER IS HEAVILY CENTRALIZED.
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