Please discuss the following concepts of democracy:
- classical conception of democracy according to Rousseau,
- the conception of democracy of Schumpeter,
- the models of democracy by Downs and Herder-Dorneich,
- and finally the notion of democracy by Luhmann.
Classical conception of democracy (Rousseau):
By means of overcoming people’s differences in attitudes and opinions, politicians search for the public interest serving all members of society – serves to identify public issues.
The democracy is based on the concept “the general will” where the actions and policies looking for being equal for the interest of everyone (the “public interest”). It means also that each person votes by his or her particular will. Therefore, Rosseau´s democracy is in favor of the public-spirited voting. This voting has to be for creating laws which are made by the sovereign, i.e. all citizens in an assembly (Rousseau’s democracy = direct democracy). The public interest serving all members of society. It is problable according to Rousseau since: when the class differences are eliminated the conflicts of interest are also eliminated and also because people are educated to identify themselves with their society.
Joseph A. Schumpeter:
„The democratic method is to be understood as that order of institutions for achieving political decisions, by which individuals obtain decision making powers by means of competition for the votes of the people“ (1980, pp. 428ff.). – It is just a method, it gives rights
He disputed the idea that democracy was a process by which the electorate identified the common good and it reflected a democracy “rule by the people”. In contrast to Rousseau, he argued that a highly formal kind of democracy in which citizens vote in an electoral process for the purpose of selecting competing elites is highly desirable while a conception of democracy that draws on a more ambitious conception of equality is dangerous. Therefore, individuals who want to obtain decision making powers have to compete for the votes of the people.
„Economic Theory of Democracy“ (1957); realistic view of competition between politicians for votes from the electorate. – Voting and competition models and theories about it.
There is a special partial competition which reflects the position of the party programme. According to him the central relation between voter preferences and the policy undertaken has never been considered or treated adequately. Assuming there are just two strongly different positions: Left and Right, the voters cast their votes for the party that is nearest to their position (who give them the highest party differential). Of course the parties will try to create programmes which are related more to the middle position in order to win more votes. (A modern theory of institutions, Pag 90,91,92).(hangout 18/1/12 Pag. 3 and 4)
Central Idea: Each of the two parties can expect an increase in votes by moving more loosely to the competing party´s position.
„Political model of economic theory“ (1959); like Downs; there is no pre-existing public interest, instead: the democratic discourse is no procedure to find the (hidden) will of the people, but to invent it by means of competition and discussion. – Politicians have their own issues and not act according to public preferences. “We do not know what they (politicians) should do”.
Politicians pretend to know everything but they don’t.
By means of elections „the political system is able to orient itself towards its own history“ and to learn, „to respond to itself and its impact on society“ (1969, p. 179): The democratic discourse is considered as a process of learning and innovation. – We need to learn what we have done, change policies and apply different strategies according to what we have learned from the past”.
Theory of differentiated social system: Democracy and freedom are undetermined but the political system is able to oriente itself towards its own history and to learn. This concept is not like the classical liberal argument, however, interprets constitutional rights as devices for protecting society from the state itself. The legitimation of political decisions is nothing more than an institutional learning process and systemic expectation to the realities. Inclusive structure of modern democracies power no decreased. On the contrary, the fundamental precondition of the democracy is that power always increases. The separation of powers, thus, codified by the constitution, is primarily a device for the preservation of the internal unity of different systems (legal and political) and only secondly for maintaining democracy. It is not based on the mediated unity of people, administration and state but rather on the systemic differentiation of these.
What are the assumptions the model of democracy by Downs is based on, and how can it be visualised?
The Spatial Model of Democracy – Downs
- Political options can be arranged on a spatial continuum from the left to the right (Hotelling).
- Voters always prefer that point on this continuum, which is closest to their optimum utility (their personal optimum – closer to their preferences), irrespectively of how far the distance between these points may be.
- Only the impact of political decisions on one issue is taken into account. In reality, decisions relevant for the outcome of elections refer to numerous issues, have many attributes and have an impact on many aspects of life.
- Two parties compete to win the elections and to come into office (then extended to three parties).
- Different distributions of programmes desired by voting citizens over the continuum are possible.
- The voters change the party, they follow to their self-interests; they decide for that party which provides them with the highest „party differential“. – Voters change their preferences according to self-interests.
(a) R wins because R will get all the votes from the right part of X (which are a bigger part in the total distribution) and also because is closer to the middle.
(b) There are more voters in the left region of X than in the right region of M, so the net effect of a move toward the mode taking into account only the effect of the alienation must be to increase a candidate´s expected vote. But the proportions in the left and the right are the same at the end and the distant between median and mode is not likely to be great enough to shift the candidate position
How can the attractiveness of the median and the spatial model of democracy by Downs be explained?
The model considers that in a two-candidate election, each candidate can increase their probability of winning by adopting a position closer to the opponent.
So the voters localized in the middle of the graphic will be really who decides the winning part, since the two of them become so similar.
Which problems are likely to occur if in the spatial model of democracy one party changes its position fundamentally in order to maximize its number of votes?
Do the outcomes this model produces differ between the case of equal distribution, distribution according to Gaus and doublepeak distribution of the voters?
Distribution according to Gauss:
The common distribution according to Gauss is represented by a bell curve along two dimensions.
In this distribution the “center of opinion” is the center of the distribution or midpoint. Hence, it is the base for the Down´s model.
This distribution, as we observe, represents the same amount of voters for each candidate in the election competition. This concept is applied in all cases, so that we say it is not exclusive for the unimodal distribution.
Besides, the values of the distribution do not have to be exactly as the total number of voters supporting a candidate. When the differential margin is not greater than 0.1% it is also consider as an equal distribution of the voters. Of course, when the election competition is very close, each value is taken into account.
In the same way as Down explained in his model, the best option for obtain more votes would be try to move their efforts to the middle part of the distribution and consider some policies related to this.
Also named Bimodal Distribution. Due to the presence of alienation when the candidates are still too far away to make voting attractive, we could prognosticate that the candidates are away from the midpoint, but in this case there is also the possibility that a candidate presents a variety of extreme positions concerning several key issues and to win the support of a sufficient number of minorities to defeat another candidate taking median position of all. The same behaviour can be even observed in a multimodal situation.
How can it be explained that the spatial model of democracy reveal “centrifugal and centripetal forces”?
Centripetal forces: Attractiveness of median voter
Centrifugal forces: Additional considerations
Decreasing party differential increases losses of votes due to voting abstinence.
Differences between political programmes of parties are becoming too small and cannot sufficiently be perceived of by the citizens: lack of arguments in the election campaigns – cannot convince the voters
On what factors does it depend whether or not new parties are founded at the wings of the spatial model of democracy?
Are such foundations of new parties more likely in a case of proportional voting or in the case of majority voting, and which influence has the distribution of voters?
Loosing voters at the left and right wings: extreme voters are becoming “politically homeless”.
New parties established at the extreme wings: occurs more in case of proportional representation than in case of relative majority voting, and depends on the distribution of voters over the continuum.
Why is it possible, that internal consensus building in a party and the external elections strategies of a party are conflicting during election campaigns?
Consensus building within the parties:
There may be a distance between the median voter within the party and the median voter between different parties.
If the party programme and the declarations of its leading politicians are insufficiently in line with the attitudes and convictions of the party members, particularly the party‘s activities, conflicts arise which disturb the campaigning process.
How can agriculture and agricultural policy be considered in a model of democracy which is based on the Economic Theory of Democracy?
Assumptions of the model:
- Agrarian politicians only pay attention to the preferences of agricultural voters; non-agricultural voters are assumed to be indifferent vis-á-vis agricultural policies. – in reality is not so
- Agricultural voters only decide on their voting behaviour according to their evaluation of agricultural policies; as far as other political problems are concerned, they behave completely neutral. - in reality is not so
- Agricultural voters may follow different types of behaviour: (a) median voters, (b) floating voters, (c) regular voters or (d) extreme voters.
- The agricultural politicians aim at maximising the votes for their party.
- Agricultural politicians will respond to the demand for policies by agriculture with a supply of agricultural policies only if farmers and their families behave as flexible voters (median voters, floating voters or extreme voters).
Which electoral behaviour has the highest probability to exist in the agricultural population:
- median voters,
- floating voters,
- regular voters or
- extreme voters?
In practice, the agricultural population show little voting mobility and one-sided party preferences predominantly for conservative parties. So, there is a big probability that the famers would behave as regular voters.
They vote for such politicians who promise them policies which preserve agricultural structures without adjustments. It is because they are a minority and feel fear to lose their economic position which is predominantly conservative and maintain the guarantee of private property in production factors.
Includes additional gains of voter by means of policy measures that redistributes incomes (special favours). The optimal distribution strategy: Maximum favours for a minimum majority and maximum burdens for a maximum minority. For gaining the crucial amount of votes the favours are taken account.
The high flexibility of agricultural voters is maintained avoiding the ideological commitment. Even if the farmers can only decide for a general party programme and not for particular agricultural policies, they feel safe with those who consider them.
Farmers behave as a stable group but they can be radicalized in legitimacy crises of agricultural policy if they feel that are left alone in a crisis by the traditional sectors and farmers´ unions, and if this feeling is instrumentalized by groups and organizations which are not close to agricultural sector.
Why does the agricultural population in developed countries usually show a very clear party identification in favour of conservative and bourgeois parties?
Why seems this electoral behaviour to be contradictory at first glance?
The agricultural population in developed countries usually shows a clear party identification in favor of conservative and bourgeois parties, because of the next reasons:
- As a result of changes in the structure of the National Economy the agricultural, alone considered as a part of the population, has became a social minority. Some kind of development could be considered by the agricultural population as the threat of loss of its economical importance. Also in the process of the structural change (providing by non-conservative parties) the farmers would feel permanent adjustment pressure. They are not sure about their future social and economical status: the agricultural population can lose their economic position and social status; or the economic status of the farmers might decrease.
- The agrarian minority could fall behind in case of large changes in society and the economy.
- The agricultural population in developed countries used to show a clear anticommunist attitude, because they depend on a private property in production factors, what contradict Marxist Theory.
But, on the one hand, the farmers are interested in the preservation of the right of the private property, so, in this case, they are sharing interests of the industrial entrepreneurs.
On the other hand, however, the agricultural population is used to be considered as a group with chronic financial problems, so the farmers should respond to state guarantees of economical security. In this case they are sharing interests of the working class.
So, the agricultural population should profit by capitalistic as well as socialistic government programs. So, the contradictory in farmers’ electoral behavior is in the following: because of the specific social-economical situation (mentioned in a) and b) also) farmers, as passionate minority might be expected to vote in a very flexible way. But they show little voting mobility and one-sided party preferences predominantly for conservative and bourgeois parties.
Which mechanisms contribute to preserving the conservative party conservation of farmers? How can the anticommunist attitude of farmers be explained?
Aus dem Buch von Hagedorn:
As we defined earlier, the agricultuaral population used to show one-sided party preferences, predominantly for conservative parties. There are some intermediate determinants, which can contribute to preserve these electoral preferences.
First of all, the political preferences of farmers can be transmitted from one generation to another. Initially children adopt (borrow) their parents’ political views. The transmitting of the party preferences has become in agricultural population more apparent than in other groups of society. It can be explained through the more resembling social, cultural and economical conditions of life of parents and their children in farm families, then in other families. “Unlike men and woman in other occupation, peasants make their livelihood in the same way as their parents (who were almost invariable peasants themselves).
Further, they tend to remain near the same village, if not in the very house, of their mother and father. Finally, they are surrounded by a rural population and involved in local institutions which have changed little. This comparatively stable, homogeneous environment, which peasant fathers and sons (or mothers and daughters) hold in common, is nowhere approached in other segments of a complex modern society” (Lewis-Beck, 1977b, p.455).
Another determining factor of the preserving and transferring the conservative and bourgeois party preferences between different generations is the traditional religious convictions. The conservative and bourgeois party identification of the peasants, excelling other groups of society in the religiousness (versus the church visiting), can depend on the transferring of the religious obligations. As it was said before, the farmers are strictly interested in providing of conservative politics.
Sometimes the concepts, provided by the left parties, are not less conservative, then the concepts, provided by the right parties. At the same time the agricultural population shows the clear anticommunist and antisocialist attitude. It can be explained by the conflict between farmers’ interests and the Marxist ideology. So, the economy existence and the social status of the agricultural population depend on the guaranties of the private property and the production factors. However this concession was realized in the real east socialistic society only as exception (for example, partially in Poland), at the same time in the west social-democracy this concepts had remained also unclear and contradictory.
So the tradition of the distrust of the agricultural voters was appeared, this distrust has became stable after the dividing of Germany, what can be considered as a concrete example of the collectivization of the agriculture in East Germany.
Konrad Hagedorn Das Institutionen problem in der agrarökonomischen Politikforschung, p.404-405
How can the optimal strategy of redistribution to be used by politicians in model of pure democracy be explained?
Generally speaking that party will win, which will be able to unite a sufficient majority of the voters, and to offer them a higher individual effective income than the competitive parties. This is possible, if the party will use the optimal strategy of redistribution.
It means, that for getting necessary majority in the end of the election the party can choose the minimum possible biggest group of voters (but this group must ensure this party the victory on this election) and to provide them maximum possible favors.
For doing this the party has to choose also the maximum possible smallest group of voters and to provide them maximum possible burdens (to get necessary resources for the favoring of the first group of voters).
So, the optimal distribution strategy in the model of pure democracy sounds so: Maximum favors for a minimum majority and the maximum burdens for a maximum minority.
It is evidently, that the election potential of the agricultural population, because of its relative small share in the total electorate, could be very attractive in the afore-mentioned case. After the proclaiming of the election program, party “A” favours a “51%-Group” of voters and burdens a “49%-Group” of voters. In this case party “B” tries to ensure a victory, favoring the “49%-Group” and chooses from “51%- Group” a small group of voters (for example, 2-3%), trying to offer this group more favors as party “A”.
The peasants can profit by the situation of the competition between party “A” and party “B”, getting more favors from the both parties and increasing their position.
Why are many farmers in industrialised societies reluctant to vote for social democratic parties?
They show little voting mobility and one-sided party preferences predominantly for conservative parties
Explanation: This party identification is an expression of a certain socio-psychological situation: permanent adjustment pressure in the process of structural change, decreasing economic importance of farmers, fear to lose economic position and their social status.
Response: intensive group identification for defending economic position and social status; thus, they vote for such politicians who promise them policies which preserve agricultural structures and do not announce agricultural policies which require economic adjustment and favour structural change.
Although farmers in industrialized countries represent a minority, they have a strong lobby which has important influence on policy. Due to the self-preservation of a political administrative system policy has an interest to support farmers by economical protection.
Extreme political powers (right and left) represent such political ideas, but farmers rather tend to vote right parties. This goes back to the different interests of farmers and the Marxist ideology. Socialism doesn’t guarantee private property of capital goods. And in the former West Federal Republic of Germany the social democracy party didn’t find a clear position according this question. That’s why a tradition of mistrust against socialistic ideas arose in the former FRG. Additionally the political identification of farmers is characterized by family ties and religious convictions.
In the conflict between the wish to conserve their farmer existence in preferable unmodified structures and the adaption of the agriculture to the industrial society, farmers in Germany want to maintain their socioeconomic vested rights.
That’s why they vote for a defensive and structure preservative agricultural policy. Conservative parties emphasize the similarity of the economical conditions of farmers and medium-sized business companies (aims: cost-covering prices, fundable capital stock).
Conservation of party identification by family relationship and religion: extraordinary similarity of the social, cultural and economic conditions of life between parents and children; religious behavioural patterns.
Why can agricultural politicians be influenced by arguments that relate to the electoral behaviour of farmers although most farmers are no flexible voters?
- Agricultural interests represent a minority and their preferences are only assertive in coalition with other political powers. It is empirical proved (by Wilson 1978 p. 46) that farmers are willing to vote for other than conservative parties. Which coalition partner they chose is depending on the political system and pre-structured coalition possibilities. Farmers are not determined on one political party. Which party they vote for is depending on the experiences a farmer has done with one party, if they were good and if the party eventually represents the interests of the farmers.
- Parties in governmental responsibility can influence the farmer’s expectations. That depends on the interpretation of the party. Conservative parties emphasize the similarity of the economical conditions of farmers and medium-sized companies (their common interests on cost-covering prices and fundable capital stock). Left and social democratic parties rather emphasize the analog character of the economical situation of farmers and employees (social security). Every party tries to put such preferences in the center of the political consciousness of farmers to generate core voters, they tip the scales (they can influence an election): „marginal benefit position”. In times of election farmers can produce a damaging vibe against the government. That can have positive effects for the opposition.
Which alternative strategies to get acceptance of their preferences can be associated with the floating voter model and the regular voter model respectively from the point of view of an interest group like the farmers?
Two institutional alternatives are given:
- The more agriculture intends to rely on party competition, the more they depend on floating voters: avoid ideological commitment, maintain high flexibility of agricultural voters. The strategy is to punish the party by withdraw votes, that didn’t represent the interests of the farmers (das Grenzwählerpotenzial auszuschöpfen).
- The more agriculture intends to use other institutions for exerting political influence, e.g. internal lobby, influence of framers’ unions, bureaucracy, interpretation systems, the more their political partners will expect that they can rely on regular voters from agriculture: requires long-term maintenance of respective party identification. For constituting a lobby of agricultural members of parliament it demands a huge and close group of voters with agricultural background and a corresponding party identification.
Why is it necessary from the point of view of agricultural voters to complement the general institution of elections by mechanisms of fine tuning, for example, provided by organised interest groups and other lobbying capacities to influence the policy making process?
Elections and party contentions (to represent most possible preferences of the citizens) are only causing a gross steering of the governmental economical policy for the benefit of farmers.
Specified decisions (fine tuning) are made by the parliament that is influenced by political unions, lobby work etc.
That means that only through a cooperation of electoral behavior and fine tuning an articulation of preference and voting for the benefit of the interests of farmer is possible. That is because farmers vote only for a whole agenda of one certain party and not for one specific agricultural program.
That means that farmers have to imply their precise interests on another level. This is possible by delegating their interest to an agricultural member of parliament or to interest unions. These actors have to vote for the interests of farmers, because they depend on this basis.
Why would changing minorities be exploited by changing majorities resulting in instable political conditions if the model of pure democracy would prevail in reality?
– From the standpoint of competing parties, the question arises weather employment of agricultural policy instruments can help them win elections.
– Would be possible, if farmers would become marginal voters. Since both parties will make redistribution strategies to secure the marginal votes, any decision by one party will constantly be undermined by strategic redistribution promises by the other one.
– Victory will be attainable only by extreme concentrate of redistribution on a group of voters as small as possible, but still assuring the majority.
– Since the budget available for redistribution is supposed to be as large as possible, the number of citizens who have to carry the burden has to be maximised too.
– If a party has decided in favour of a particular “51% group” and burdens the remaining “49% group”, then the competing party will try to prevent its victory by improving the situation of the disadvantaged “49% group” by means of adequate reliefs and favours.
In addition it will isolate a call “2% group” from the “51% group” by promising them even more advantages the the other party. Farmers would be suitable for such a role of procuring the majority.
– Not advisable for the politicians or the farmers, because it does not lead to a reliable majority for the politicians and to a stable agricultural policy for the farmers.
– This would result in unstable political conditions, characterised by exploitation of changing minorities by changing majorities.
Why would, strictly speaking, the opportunity costs of a type of agricultural policies that favour the farmers be to high from the point of view of rational political entrepreneurs if these agricultural policies would only be controlled by general elections?
- Due to the farmers’ high party identification, not only the number of votes, but also the voting flexibility of most consumers and tax payers is considerably higher.
- Consequently, the gain in agricultural votes achieved by the policy favouring the farmers’ interests would be over-compensated by the resulting loss in non-agricultural votes.
→ the electoral opportunity costs caused by redistribution in favour of agriculture would be much higher than the benefits.
Why are both farmers and agricultural politicians and also the farmers unions interested in insolating the agricultural policy arena (what results in a protected policy network or political subsystem for agriculture)?
- Thus, farmers and politicians have a common interest in protecting agricultural policy against electoral control.
- They try to influence the political preferences and electoral behaviour of the non-agricultural voters (majority) so they are inclined to vote in favour of protecting agriculture in general elections.
- Allows agricultural policy to be biased in favour of the farmers’ interests without overwhelming opportunity costs.
- To preclude protests expressed by general elections, constitutional provisions are necessary to give legal status to agricultural policy, which is devoted mainly to farmers’ interests.
- The provisions are established and maintained by the public relations activities of agricultural groups to generate broad solidarity with agriculture.
Please explain the logic of voting abstinence which is practiced more often by agricultural voters than by non-agricultural voters. How is this type of behaviour related to the terms “transaction costs of changing the party” and “integrative threat”?
farmers refuse to vote for neither party due to decrease in party differential. Voting abstinence is an integrative threat strategy by farmers to warn their party of dissatisfaction with party programme. Voting abstinence preferred to change of party because of the high transaction cost associated with changing parties.
Change in party implies change in agricultural policy interest that require communication and change in party identification.
The identification of farmers is well known, they support conservative parties, so that its is highly unlikely that farmers become floating voters and support the opposition. However, they can nevertheless protest by abstaining from voting.
Agricultural pressure groups have succeeded in preventing, neutralising or even reversing opposing voters’ preferences, the mechanisms of electoral control and party competition are at their disposal as action parameters.
Government and the opposition are now free to campaign for agricultural votes, without provoking stable losses of non-agricultural votes. It is now possible for agricultural pressure groups to gain acceptance of their demands on agricultural policy.
They threaten abstention or protest voting, resignation of agriculture party members, withdrawal of support candidates and the forms of internal party protest.
Which types of elections can be distinguished as regards unchanged, temporary change or permanent change of party preferences?
Contradiction and Explanation are categorized as permanent change.
this party identification is an expression of a certain socio-psychological situation, permanent adjustment pressure in the process of structural change, decreasing economic importance of farmers, fear to loose economic position and their social status.
Farmers are passionate minority might be expected to vote in a very flexible way; instead they show little voting mobility and one side preferences predominantly for conservative parties. Response and Particular preferences for order and steadiness are temporary change.
Intensive group identification for defending economic position and social status, thus, they vote for such politicians who promise them policies which preserve agricultural structure. So, if one day also appears another politicians who promise another thing that is better than previous, they will follow the new one.
Particular preferences for order and steadiness:
The agrarian minority could fall behind in case of large changes in society and the economy. If the election is based on society and economic situation, it has big chance to change because the society and economic situation is easy to change.
Anti-communist attitudes of farmers and Conservation of party identification by family relationship and religion are regardly unchanged.
Anti-communist attitudes of farmers:
Farmers depend on a guarantee of private property in production factors.
Conservation of party identification by family relationship and religion:
Extraordinary similarity of the social, cultural, and economic conditions of life between parents and children, religious behavioural patterns. If the election follows the religious patterns, than it would become regardly unchanged because the religious patterns would not be able to change.
Which experiences from German history reveal some empirical evidence as regards the behaviour of the agricultural population vis-à-vis extreme parties?
Farmers were belonging to the firsts to join the Nazi Party. Because they were most affected by the economic crisis. There were no alternative politically and the NSDAP promised increasing prices and not dependence on the market. It is an example of how politics and economy are interrelated.
Why and how is the agricultural population often described as a group which is particular important for society? Please explain the terms “agricultural fundamentalism” and “agrarianism”.
Agriculture as a Social Contract
- To legitimate the agricultural group objectives, this theory interprets agricultural policy in the sense of a social contract which has been concluded on the constitutional level of politics, analogously to the Economic Theory ofConstitutions (see, e.g., Buchanan, 1975; 1984).
- In this view, which is reinforced by the well-known ideologies based on agrarian fundamentalism, agricultural policyis justified by an exchange of public goods (Hagedorn, 1992).
- Agriculture provides security of food supply, reliable food quality, environmental protection, social stability, and other external benefits.
- In return, agricultural policy ensures farmers equal participation in incomes and wealth.
- Following this justification theory, support by agricultural policies is nothing but a just reward for public goods produced by farmers.
- By popularising ideologically founded convictions that closely associate the role of agriculture wth social values, e.g. continuity, stability, solidarity and justice, agricultural pressure groups provide the basic prerequisite for political acceptance, legitimation and implementation.
- It is based on a voluntary agreement between social groups on the internalisation of external effects in accordance with the valid notions of social justice, they are able to mobilise positive value judgements. The public good provided by agriculture relate to very essential human needs. Therefore, they may be willing to incur higher costs to maintain the possibility to make use of these precautions. → has a high option value.
Under what circumstances can farmers become radical?
If they feel that they are left alone by the traditional state actors and also by farmers unions in a crises that threatening their economic existence.
If this feeling is ideologically instrumentalized by group and organizations which mostly are not close to agriculture but come from urban society.