2 3 1B 3 Quality of Democracy cont 14 min
Now, let’s move on to a final cluster of
factors or, or elements of the quality of democracy.
Obviously, a democracy must involve, provide for, stimulate, and induce, or
incentivize active participation of the citizenry.
of course, we want this to be through elections.
democracy is a higher quality democracy if it has a higher voter turnout and if
citizens are more inclined to cast votes for competing parties.
Underlying this should be extensive public interest in and awareness of what
are the competing issues? What are the different arguments for
them? What interests do different groups have
in the legislation before the parliament in the decisions are choices that
different regulatory agencies need to make?
A democracy will be of higher quality if it’s civil society organizations elicit
and encourage active participation in their organizations.
And if individuals become mindful of the issues before government, legislative,
and executive branches. And active in expressing their views, and
even through their different civil society organizations from time to time,
appealing publicly, for certain types of legislation.
So it’s not just narrow interests of with economic advantage at stake perhaps, that
are appealing for government policies, but broader constituencies as well.
We have the principal, as the ninth element of democratic quality, of
equality, of justice in the sense of a relatively fair distribution of political
resources and political opportunities to influence government.
Now, we know that in any society there is not perfect equality and there can never
be perfect justice. And in a democracy, financial resources,
wealth as well as education, and access to information will result in some
inequalities in political influence. But this means there has to be a base of
education and information that all citizens share in.
And there has to be some degree of a relative equality and access to
organizational capacities and tools of political influence.
Equality means, the different groups on the country, have at least some floor of
political voice and political influence. We have the variable, the factor of
gender. Do women have a substantial
representation, in the cabinet, in the parliament, and other representative
bodies? A few democracies mainly Scandinavian
ones are now reaching the goal of 50% representation of women in parliament and
in the cabinet. Other democracies are trying to get there
through specific quotas that require women’s representation in a certain
percentage on electoral lists to get into the parliament.
Others shy away from quotas, but are trying to induce it in different ways.
Underlying all of this, of course, is economic inequality that empowers some
groups and tends to disempower others and even rob them of political voice.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the time to ponder in this class, the deep and
troubling problem that globalization and the increasing shift to technology and
production. And comparative advantage to technology
and production seems to be stimulating inequality around the world and in all
kinds of societies. And increasingly, now, after a trend
toward greater equality in the advanced industrial democracies.
But it is one of the most serious philosophical and practical problems for
democracy that inequality is growing around the world, in most countries.
And that democracies must find ways of attenuating economic inequality and of
keeping economic and financial inequality from translating into massive disparities
and political voice and influence. There is as well the inequalities that
may flow from ethnic disparities or disparities in group identity and the
marginalization for example of indigenous people.
So, democracies that are of high quality need to be mindful of this and think
about how they will take proactive steps to empower ethnic minorities and ensure
their fair representation in some proportion to their numbers in the
society. This raises issues of institutional
design including the design of electoral systems that we will come to later in the
class in thinking about how fairness in terms of ethnic and identity groups can
be promoted by institutional designs. And of course, we come back to the rule
of law, that equality must mean equality before the law, that all citizens are
treated equally by government agencies and institutions without invidious
distinction, discrimination on the basis of their class, their region, their
religion, their ethnicity or gender. And of course, this creates an irony that
if you want to positively discriminate for and allow for affirmative action to
attenuate past inequalities, then some citizens may complain that government is
introducing, by its policies, new forms of discrimination on the basis of any of
these distinctions. And so, we confront a philosophical
debate between leveling inequality and introducing new forms of inequality.
The tenth dimension of inequality is responsiveness, of course, that one of
the purposes of democracy is to ensure that government will be responsive to
people. That there’re some degrees of popular
sovereignty, not only in the choice of leaders, but in the selection of policies
and distribution of benefits. And over time, those should evolve and
change by elected officials and appointed officials, the government bureaucracy in
response to changing public sentiments and the changing distribution of public
sentiments and preferences. Over time, a high quality democracy sees
a significant correlation between what citizens want of government, as they
express it in a variety of civic actions, and of course, through elections.
And what government does in terms of policies on a wide range, range of
issues, in terms of priorities as reflected in budgetary allocations and in
terms of big decisions like war and peace.
Responsiveness means responsiveness, not only to the majority, but to minorities,
under the principle of justice and equality to ensure that citizens are able
to win redress for their grievances, for the violations of their rights even
rights that are violated by the government and that people can be heard.
They have voice, and even if they’re not a majority, that they will not be ignored
in the political process. If they are a minority who have had their
interests and rights abused. And of course, the contest of interest is
one of the most agonizing problems for a democracy, because no democracy can be
perfectly responsive to all interests at the same time.
Democracy is about competition, and therefore, competition of interest.
And balancing majority and minority, different interest groups, and the
principal of fairness and occlusion on the one hand versus majority rule on the
other as we’ll come to, are some of the choices that democracies need to make.
Democracies that are of high quality have a high quality set of norms and
prevailing styles that manage competition with respect for minority rights and the
rule of law. So there is not just empowerment, but
there is tolerance respect for the voices of others, the views of others the needs
of other groups, commitment to the rule of law, and the ruling out of violence as
any kind of legitimate means oppressing, the interests of individuals in groups.
And therefore, as we’ll come to, when we talk about the culture of democracy,
crucially, a willingness to compromise. And a rejection of any embrace or
utilization of the potential political power and backing of blatantly
undemocratic and anti-systemic actors. In the civic culture, a culture of
democracy, the vast majority of citizens and groups, believe in, embrace, and
defend the legitimacy of the democratic system, and the constitution that
embodies it, are loyal to that system, even if it means that they’re going to
lose an election and be in the opposition for a period of time.
Know their rights and obligations as citizens and are willing to defend them.
Crucially, the key element of a quality democracy is the elections happen.
They are neutrally administered. They are free and fair and if a party
loses, it accepts the result sand moves on to be in the opposition or negotiate
to maybe be part of a coalition government that they do not lead, but
they wait for the next election, to enhance their position.
You can question authority, but you need to respect authority.
and the respect for authority means the rejection of, and condemnation of, an
unwillingness to use or embrace intolerance anti-democratic sentiments,
and anything that would violate the consitutional norms of democracy.
I will come back to these themes repeatedly in the class.
We can look at the hard structures, the institutions, the rules of democracy And
identify liberal democracies. But if we don’t have the software, the
culture, the norms that guide behavior, then we can’t have a liberal democracy
and we will likely not have a truly stable and consolidated democracy.
Then, in addition, there’s the element of state effectiveness that in a democracy,
you have to have a consequential, authoritative, resourceful state that is
legitimate, that is seen by its citizens as having the right to make and enforce
laws. And exercise the sine qua non of any
state, a monopoly over the legitimate use of force.
if a state is to be equality state, an equality democracy, it needs
administrative capacity. And this means, let us not denegrate the
word beureacracy. A formal, professional, multidimensional
structure of government authority. That is meritocratic, honest
professionally led and administered, and therefore able to perform the functions
of the state in a fair and neutral way. Regulation, implementation of the laws,
taxation, maintenance of order, and of course, generation of public goods,
public infrastructure, and well being health, education, and so on, to serve
the general good.