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.

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Three paradoxes of democracy l.jpg
Three Paradoxes of Democracy

  • Ideas of Larry Diamond

1 conflict versus consensus l.jpg
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

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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.

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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 performanceacross a variety of issues.

  • But the process of gathering consent is not always efficient.

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  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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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%

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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.

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Four mechanisms

  • Federalism

  • Proportionality in distribution of resources and power

  • Minority rights

  • Sharing or rotation of power

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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

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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.

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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.