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Democracy & Authoritarianism

Robert Dahl Polyarchy (1971) has the following procedural minimal
1. Officials have to be elected;
2. Free and fair elections;
3. Universal suffrage;
4. Almost everyone had the right to run for office;
5. Freedom of expression free press;
6. Alternative information is available;
7. Freedom to form associations.

Attributes 1-4 indicate that a basic aspect of polyarchy is that elections

are inclusive, fair, and competitive

Attributes 5-7 refer to political and social freedoms that are minimally
necessary during and between elections for elections to be fair and

Karl and Schmitter (1991)

8. Elected officials must be able to exercise power without
interference from unelected officials such as the military;
9. The polity should be able to act independently of external actors
such as the US

10. The tenure of elected officials should not be arbitrarily terminated
before the end of their constitutionally mandated term;

11. There should be a generalized expectation that the electoral
process and its surrounding freedoms will continue into an
indefinite future.

Ian Shapiro Democracy is a means of managing power relations between

different social groups in a manner that minimizes domination by privileged
groups over others domination here refers to the illegitimate exercise of
power; the task of democracy, of course, is to express a general will that
reflects the common good in a democracy, the common good is
understood as that which is shared by those who have an interest in avoiding

In theory, democratic states are expected to protect subordinate social

groups from excessive exploitation by business groups and other dominant
classes of course, the notion of excessive exploitation is subjective

Democratic transition - when authoritarian regimes give way to

democratic regimes typically, the end of authoritarian rule comes about
through competitive elections

Democratic consolidation we say that a democratic regime becomes

consolidated when according to Adam Przeworski, democracy becomes the
only game in town in other words, all social groups come to accept
democratic rule as desirable and legitimate signifies popular acceptance for
democracy additionally, a consolidated democracy, especially in the
context of those countries where military intervention in politics has been
common, also refers to a situation where authoritarian regression becomes
unlikely remember that if we can have a democratic transition, we can also
have democratic breakdown

According to Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan, a consolidated democracy has the
following features:
1. A vibrant civil society based on freedom of association and
2. Free and fair universal elections with universal citizen participation;
3. The rule of law or constitutionally established, broadly accepted
and obeyed legal culture;
4. A modern state apparatus with a monopoly of legitimate force
based on rational-legal norms capable of regulating society and
economy; and
5. A market economy in which the state moderates social and
economic needs.

Civil society
Alfred Stepan: Civil society is that arena where manifold social
movements...and civic organizations from all classes...attempt to constitute
themselves in an ensemble of arrangements so that they can express
themselves and advance their interests

Larry Diamond: Civil society represents the realm of social life that is open,
voluntary, self-generating, at least partially self-supporting, autonomous
from the state, and bound by a legal order or set of shared values

In its simplest formulation, civil society is characterized by an associational

life that leads to the formation of social capitalunderstood as broad
networks of trust and reciprocity among members of a communitywhich
is a key determinant of an effective democracy civil society organizations
serve to improve the structure and functioning of the state, and to hold State
officials accountable

One important critique of civil society is that it has meaning only for a small
privileged section of the population many citizens, because of their socio-
economic status, ethnicity, gender etc, whether or not they form
organizations and associations, tend to be marginalized or even excluded
from the domain of what we call civil society

Democratic Reversal or breakdown: When democracy is interrupted

via a military coup or arbitrary takeover of power by other actors

Procedural and substantive democracy minimalist and

maximalist definitions of democracy

Procedural democracy when all political conditions for democracy are

fulfilled refer to Dahls polyarchy what matters is whether a country is
holding free and fair elections at regular intervals in which opposition has a
chance of winning there is freedom of press and of association etc

Substantive democracy appropriate political conditions are necessary

but not considered sufficient for substantive democracy there is an
emphasis on socio-economic relations we can say that the egalitarian
principles of democracy are extended to the economic sphere

Is there a greater degree of socio-economic equality?

Is the quality of life for the majority of citizens improving?

The debate comes down to whether democracy is more than just about
political relations the minimalists insist that democracy has to be
understood in its political context critics argue that this makes many
democracies simply electoral democracies where all that matters is

elections one of the main problems with the idea of substantive or
maximalist democracy is there is no consensus on precisely what kind of
socio-economic conditions must prevail for substantive democracy

What should be the degree of socio-economic equality for example?

Or, for that matter, if the daily lives of the majority is not improving, is it
due to the nature of democracy or other factors (international economic
conditions for example) country A depends on export of copper for its
earnings world copper prices are down and this hurts country A without
economic growth, welfare suffers

Formal, participatory and social democracy

Formal democracy fulfils Dahls criteria of polyarchy

Participatory democracy all conditions of formal democracy + high

levels of participation without systematic differences across social categories
in other words, socio-economic or other differences do not deter political
engagement by individuals

Social democracy all conditions of participatory democracy + there is

increasing equality in social and economic conditions

Degrees of Democracy
The term degrees of democracy refers to whether there is more democracy
or less democracy the reference is to the quality of democracy, whether
democracy is just formal or procedural or of better quality

Democratic Deepening: Horizontal and vertical dimensions of
The notion of broadening can be understood as the spatial spread of
democracy along three dimensions:
1) Across social groups;
2) Across national territory; and
3) Across different issues.
Broadening has a quantitative dimension in that it reflects democracy as
embodied in the constitution and in laws -- Democratic broadening may
reflect different degrees of emphasis on political, civil, and social rights, and
refers primarily to the spread of these rights and to their explicit recognition
by the state in the forms of laws -- Broadening implies the spread of
democracy from the political arena to the civil and the social domains, from
the urban to the rural areas, and to all individuals and groups

Latin American democracies have completed the process of broadening the

process of democratic deepening has a long road to travel democratic
deepening is a process under which the formal, effective, and substantive
dimensions of democracy become mutually reinforcingin other words,
whereas broadening refers to the horizontal spread of democracy across
different social groups, national territory, and issues, the notion of
deepening is vertical in nature it refers to the gap between democracy in
theory and in practice and has a qualitative dimension

We can conceive of democratic deepening along the same three dimensions
as the concept of broadening - the notion of deepening refers to the
substantive meaning of democracy
1) Across different social groups;
2) Across national territory; and
3) Across different issues.

For example, the gap between democracy in theory and practice is more
defined in rural areas than in urban areas - the degree of democracy or
democraticness varies in urban and rural contexts another example:
while political rights can be seen as being consolidated in most of Latin
America, this is not the case with civil and social rights especially for the
poor, indigenous peoples, and women