Most democratic citizens today are now questioning the very pillars of representative democracy. Democratic Challenges, Democratic Choices uses an unprecedented array of cross-national public opinion surveys to document the erosion of political support in virtually all Western democracies. These trends are making governing more difficult, but also fueling demands for political reform that may lead to a further expansion of the democratic process and a new democratic relationship between citizens and their governments. - ;Most democratic citizens today are distrustful of politicians, political parties, and political institutions. Where once democracies expected an allegiant public, citizens now question the very pillars of representative democracy. Democratic Challenges, Democratic Choices documents the erosion of political support in virtually all advanced industrial democracies. Assembling an unprecedented array of cross-national public opinion data, this study traces the current challenges to democracy primary to changing citizen values and rising expectations. These critical citizens are concentrated among the young, the better educated, and the politically sophisticated. At the same time, the evidence debunks claims that such trends are a function of scandals, poor performance, and other government failures. Changing public are born from the successful social modernization of these nations. A creedal passion for democracy is sweeping across the Western democracies, and people now expect more of their governments. This study concludes by examining the consequences of these changing images of government. The author finds that these expectations are making governing more difficult, but also fueling demands for political reform. The choices that democracies make in response to these challenges may lead to a further expansion of the democratic process and a new relationship between citizens and their government - ;We are not alone, writes Professor Russell Dalton in this sobering new book: the steady decline in citizen support for democratic systems and institutions....is affecting almost all advanced industrial democracies. Dating from the early 1960s, roughly the time of John Kennedys assassination, citizen trust in government, politicians, and political institutions in the U.S. and its sister democracies has marched downward with dismaying regularity. As demands on government increase and become more complex, rising expectations are more difficult to satisfy and democratic citizens are increasingly dissatisfied. Eroding trust in government threatens government legitimacy, the very bedrock of democracy. Professor Daltons dramatic findings should be required reading for every elected official and for every citizen concerned with democracys future. - Gary Hart, United States Senator (Ret.)
Analyzes relations between political party systems and local communities in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, and other nations. This book addresses an almost completely neglected branch of community politics: the comparative analysis of local political systems. Accordingly, Local Parties in Political and Organizational Perspective opens new views to a variety of relations between political systems and local communities in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Italy, Germany, and other nations. The authors unite specific national case studies with an original theoretical framework, resulting in an anthology with uncommon coherency. Theoretical generalizations are tested with cross-national data; each case study, in turn, demonstrates a localized version of the larger framework, using specific historical political outcomes as examples. This book addresses an almost completely neglected branch of community politics: the comparative analysis of local political systems. Accordingly, Local Parties in Political and Organizational Perspective opens new views to a variety of relations between political systems and local communities in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Italy, Germany, and other nations. The authors unite specific national case studies with an original theoretical framework, resulting in an anthology with uncommon coherency. Theoretical generalizations are tested with cross-national data; each case study, in turn, demonstrates a localized version of the larger framework, using specific historical political outcomes as examples. Local Parties in Political and Organizational Perspective argues that local political parties should be understood as Janus-faced: components of nationally encompassing organizations on the one hand, and specific actors in community politics on the other. As such, local parties necessarily act as the primary democratic institutions that link ordinary citizens to local governmental institutions, and transitively to the national political system. By linking ordinary citizens and the most basic local organizations with national politics, Local Parties in Political and Organizational Perspective adds significantly to the collective understanding of the nature and status of local parties in mature and developing democracies
Is the performance of western democracies in decline? Which countries show the best performance? Do institutions matter for political performance? This book offers a comprehensive analysis of twenty-one OECD countries by systematically examining all major domestic policy areas - domestic security policy, economic policy, social policy, and environmental policy - and using outcome indicators. The quality of democracy is assessed both at the level of the four policy areas and at ageneral level encompassing all policy areas. The question of trade-offs between policy areas is studied in an unprecedented way and, for the first time, national types of policy patterns are identified.The findings of this book confront widely-held assumptions about the performance of democracies. Western democracies as a whole did not converge at a lower level of performance, and trade-offs between different policy areas did not increase. The question 'do institutions matter?' can only partially be answered in the affirmative. Political institutions do matter, but formal and informal institutions cause different effects and both matter only sometimes and to a limited degree.The Performance of Democracies is a book with significant theoretical implications. It stresses that the effect of institutions is more complicated than most of the neo-institutionalist approaches assume. No clear predictions can be made on the basis of institutional factors. Consequently, it does not support the established assertion that fundamental political problems can simply be resolved through institutional reforms of liberal democracies.Comparative Politics os a series for students and teachers of political science that deals with contemporary government and politics. The General Editors are Max Kaase, Professor of Political Science, Vice President and Dean, School of Humanities and Social Science, International University Bremen, Germany; and Kenneth Newton, Professor of Comparitive Politics, University of Southampton. The series is produced in association with the European Consortium for PoliticalResearch.
“A must-read for anyone concerned about the fate of contemporary democracies.”—Steven Levitsky, co-author of How Democracies Die Why divisions have deepened and what can be done to heal them As one part of the global democratic recession, severe political polarization is increasingly afflicting old and new democracies alike, producing the erosion of democratic norms and rising societal anger. This volume is the first book-length comparative analysis of this troubling global phenomenon, offering in-depth case studies of countries as wide-ranging and important as Brazil, India, Kenya, Poland, Turkey, and the United States. The case study authors are a diverse group of country and regional experts, each with deep local knowledge and experience. Democracies Divided identifies and examines the fissures that are dividing societies and the factors bringing polarization to a boil. In nearly every case under study, political entrepreneurs have exploited and exacerbated long-simmering divisions for their own purposes—in the process undermining the prospects for democratic consensus and productive governance. But this book is not simply a diagnosis of what has gone wrong. Each case study discusses actions that concerned citizens and organizations are taking to counter polarizing forces, whether through reforms to political parties, institutions, or the media. The book’s editors distill from the case studies a range of possible ways for restoring consensus and defeating polarization in the world’s democracies. Timely, rigorous, and accessible, this book is of compelling interest to civic activists, political actors, scholars, and ordinary citizens in societies beset by increasingly rancorous partisanship.
Voting in Old and New Democracies examines voting behavior and its determinants based on 26 surveys from 18 countries on five continents between 1992 and 2008. It systematically analyzes the impact on voting choice of factors rooted in the currently dominant approaches to the study of electoral behavior, but adds to this analysis factors introduced or reintroduced into this field by the Comparative National Elections Project (CNEP)—socio-political values, and political communication through media, personal discussion, and organizational intermediaries. It demonstrates empirically that these long-neglected factors have significant political impact in many countries that previous studies have overlooked, while "economic voting" is insignificant in most elections once long-term partisan attitudes are taken into consideration. Its examination of electoral turnout finds that the strongest predictor is participation by other family members, demonstrating the importance of intermediation. Another chapter surveys cross-national variations in patterns of intermediation, and examines the impact of general social processes (such as socioeconomic and technological modernization), country-specific factors, and individual-level attitudinal factors as determinants of those patterns. Complementing its cross-national comparative analysis is a detailed longitudinal case study of one country over 25 years. Finally, it examines the extent of support for democracy as well as significant cross-national differences in how democracy is understood by citizens. Written in a clear and accessible style, Voting in Old and New Democracies significantly advances our understanding of citizen attitudes and behavior in election settings.
How is power being mediated in new democracies? Can media function independently in the unstable and polarised political environment experienced after the fall of autocracy? Do major shifts in economic and ownership structures help or hinder the quality of the media? How much can new media laws alter old journalistic habits and political cultures? And how do new technologies impact the media and democracy? This book examines these questions, drawing on a vast set of data assembled by a large international project.
Many citizens in the US and abroad fear that democratic institutions have become weak, and continue to weaken. Politics with the People develops the principles and practice of 'directly representative democracy' - a new way of connecting citizens and elected officials to improve representative government. Sitting members of Congress agreed to meet with groups of their constituents via online, deliberative town hall meetings to discuss some of the most important and controversial issues of the day. The results from these experiments reveal a model of how our democracy could work, where politicians consult with and inform citizens in substantive discussions, and where otherwise marginalized citizens participate and are empowered. Moving beyond our broken system of interest group politics and partisan bloodsport, directly representative reforms will help restore citizens' faith in the institutions of democratic self-government, precisely at a time when those institutions themselves feel dysfunctional and endangered.
This book presents the results of systematic comparative analyses of electoral behavior and support for democracy in 13 countries on four continents. It is based on national election surveys held in "old" and "new" democracies in Europe (Germany, Britain, Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Bulgaria), North and South America (the United States, Chile and Uruguay), and Asia (Hong Kong) between 1990 and 2004. It is methodologically innovative, notwithstanding the fact that its core concern with "political intermediation" (i.e., the flow of political information from parties and candidates to voters through the mass-communications media, membership in secondary associations, and direct, face-to-face contacts within interpersonal networks) was first introduced to the study of electoral behavior by Paul Lazarsfeld and his collaborators in the 1940s. In addition to reviving that long-neglected analytical framework, this book breaks new ground by systematically exploring the impact of socio-political values on electoral behavior. It also analyzes the role of political intermediation in forming basic attitudes towards democracy (which are crucial for the consolidation of new democracies), and, in turn, channeling those orientations into various forms of political behavior. Some of the findings presented in this volume are dramatic, and clearly reveal that these channels of information are among the most powerful factors influencing the development of political attitudes and partisan electoral behavior. So, too, are socio-political values in some countries (particularly the United States). This volume is the first book-length product of the now 18-country Comparative National Elections Project.