Flashcards in 12: Majorities, Consensus, Agendas and Vetoes Deck (18):
Majoritarian model of democracy
Lijphart's (1984) distinction:
- government by the majority, no constraints on the will of the majority (apart from accountability and threat of being thrown out at the next election)
- e.g. single party government in a parliamentary system ("Westminster Model")
Consensus model of democracy
Lijphart's (1984) distinction:
- government by "consensus"
- constraints on the will of the majority
- e.g. coalition government / presidential system (Hamilton et al. 1788)
Institutions which restrict majority rule
1. Presidential regime: coalitions have to be built issue-by-issue, limiting the power of the president (e.g. Trump hasn't been able to pass much significant policy)
2. Coalition and/or minority government: forces compromises to be made inside cabinets and inside parliament
3. Bicameral legislature: coalitions have to be built across two chambers (in Italy the two chambers have equal power)
4. Federalism/decentralisation: restricts the power of central government
5. Referendums: allow a majority in the public to over-ride the parliamentary majority (e.g. in California the public can veto a gov policy through a referendum)
6. Bills of Rights and Constitutional Courts: allow a supreme court to block parliamentary majority
7. Independent Central Bank: restricts the ability of the government to shape economic policy
What is the Spatial Model?
An idea you can apply to any structure of government (in this case the actors are the politicians in power): The idea that politics and policy-making can be conceptualised in a political 'space (e.g. a Left Right dimension). Each actor has an ideal policy in this policy space. When making a choice between different policies, each actor will vote for policy which is closet to his/her ideal policy. If no policy is agreed the policy stays the same (status quo remains).
Median voter theorem
policies should converge on the position of the 'median voter' (with no institutions that could impact the outcome). This applies to politicians (actors) making policy decisions.
Agenda setting power
the right to make a proposal (at the beginning of the policy process), or to propose an amendment e.g. the government in a parliamentary system has a monopoly on setting the legislative agenda
the right (ability) to block a proposal e.g the median member of parliament, a party in a coalition government, the median member of a second chamber, a supreme court, the median voter in a referendum.
What is Tsebelis' theory
2002: everything can be understood in the light of the distinction between agenda-setters and veto players
1. more veto players means less policy change e.g. coalition government, presidential system, bicameralism, supreme court, central bank, referendum etc.
2. Bigger policy distance between veto players also means less policy change e.g. coalition government between two ideologically similar parties vs coalition government between two ideologically different parties.
"if an exogenous shock occurs, a government with many veto players with big ideological distances among them cannot handle the situation and cannot agree on the necessary policies" (2002)
what are the pros and cons of a majoritarian democracy?
Pros: decisive government, clear responsibility, electoral promises kept
Cons: decisions too quick, 'elective dictatorship', no compromises, threat to minority interests
what are the pros and cons of a consensus democracy?
Pros: Slow and deliberative decisions, broad political compromises, protection of minority interests
cons: decisions too slow, no clear responsibility, electoral promises broken, vetoes by minority groups
Name some examples of consensus models
presidentialism, coalition, federalism, bicameralism
Lord Halisham on Majoritarian democracy in the UK
"elective dictatorship" because once the government is in power there are very few checks and balances on what they can do.
What did Gabriel (Armond ?) say about democracy?
it is about majority rule - consensus democracies do not count - Lijpart disagreed
Why might you want to restrict majority rule?
- tyranny of the majority - minority rights and opinions need to be respected
- politicians have short-term time horizons and therefore do not look long-term when concocting policy (e.g. finances)
attributes of the "Westminster model" and examples
Majoritarian, parliamentary, single-party. e.g. UK, Greece, Canada, Australia, Botswana, Japan
attributes of the "united states model" and examples
consensus, presidential, single-party. e.g. USA, Mexico, Malawi, Indonesia
attributes of the "continental European model" and examples
consensus, PR, parliamentary, coalition e.g. Belgium, Germany, Thailand, Turkey, Czech Republic, Latvia