Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jon Elster. 1986. The Market and the Forum: Three Varieties of Political Theory

Jon Elster. “The Market and the Forum: Three Varieties of Political Theory.” In Foundations of Social Choice Theory, ed. Jon Elster and Aanund Hylland, 104-32. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

Social Choice Theory
o    Political process is an instrument rather than an end in itself.
o    The decisive political act is a private rather than public action. 
o    The structure is as follows: 
1.      Agents are given so the issue of a normative justification of political boundaries does not arise. 
2.      Agents confront a given set of alternatives so agenda manipulation is not an issue. 
3.      Preferences of agents are given and not subject to change in the course of the political process and those preferences are causally independent of the set of alternatives.                
-         In operation, individual preferences they are purely ordinal, complete, and transitive.
-         Social preference ordering of alternatives should be complete and transitive, Pareto-optimal, depend on only the relevant alternatives, and respect and reflect individual preferences, over and above the condition of Pareto-optimality (anonymity, non-dictatorship, liberalism, strategy-proofness).

Criticism of social choice theory: it embodies a confusion between the kind of behavior that is appropriate in the market place and that which is appropriate in the forum. The consumer is sovereign in the marketplace because he chooses between courses of action that differ only the in the way they affect him; in political choice situations, he is asked to express his preference over states that also differ in the way in which they affect others. A social choice mechanism is capable of resolving market failures that result from unbridled consumer sovereignty, but is hopelessly inadequate at redistributing welfare. The task of politics is not just to eliminate inefficiency, but to create justice--a goal to which the aggregation of political preferences is an incongruous means.

The transformation of public preferences through public and rational discussion:
-         The conceptual impossibility of expressing selfish arguments in a debate about the public good and the psychological difficulty of expressing other-regarding preferences without ultimately coming to acquire them bring about that public discussion tends to promote the common good.
-         Elster objects to this line of argument because not everyone will deliberate, there are time constraints, rational arguments will not align underlying values or eliminate self-interest.

What makes democracy superior are its side effects on economic prosperity. But those side effects can not be what motivate a government to pursue democracy because then society would not believe in democracy on any other ground and the side effects that come with it would not be produced.

The political process is:
1.        instrumental in purpose
2.        an end in itself, a good or even the supreme good for those who participate in it
3.        and/or both

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation

Article 1 
  • Names the confederation "The United States of America"
Article 2
  • Powers not delegated to the United States, in Congress, is delegated to its composite states.
Article 3 
  • States are confederated for a common defense
Article 4
  • Provisions for economic integration of the states, such as the elimination of tariff barriers and conformity of economic policies; obliges free capital and labor mobility. 
  • Allows for extradition between states. 
Article 5
  • Congressional meeting every year to manage the general interests of the states. Each state gets between 2 and 7, inclusive, delegates of their choosing, but only one vote. 
  • There is freedom of speech for delegates in Congress. 
Article 6
  • States cannot have diplomacy independent of the United States without consent of the Congress. States cannot have extra, non-defensive armed forces in peaceful times, but should have a stock of a well-regulated and disciplined militia at hand. 
  • States cannot unilaterally engage in non-defensive war. 
Article 7
  • Officers of or under the rank of colonel in land forces raised for the common defense are appointed by legislatures of the state from which the troops are recruited.
Article 8
  • War expenses are paid by a common treasury that states contribute to in proportion to the value of their land and assets.
Article 9
  • Congress, except in cases of invasion, has the exclusive right to declare war/peace and to enter treaties and alliances. 
  • Congress has the exclusive right to give permission to private ships to attack enemy ships and to oversee trials related to crimes committed on the sea. 
  • Congress is the final arbiter in border/jurisdiction disputes between states. 
  • Congress holds the exclusive right to determine the alloy composition and value of coins, standardize weights and measures, regulate trade and affairs with the Indians outside the states, establish post offices and charge for postage, and appoint officers of and direct the armed forces. 
  • A committee manages the general affairs of the United States when Congress is in recess. 
  • Congress can appoint a president that serves a no more than a year in any term of three years. 
  • Congress determines the funds needed to serve the United States and borrow on the credit of the United States to spend on the United States. 
  • Congress determines the size of land forces; states contribute to those forces in proportion to its population of white inhabitants. 
  • All the powers conferred to the Congress in this article needs the assent of 9 states in order to be exercised; other issues, except for the request to adjourn from day to day, require agreement by a majority of the states.  
Article 10
  • The committee mentioned in Article 9 acts as Congress when Congress is not in session, and can take on additional powers with the consent of at least 9 states, but cannot take new powers that specifically require the consent of 9 states while Congress is in session. 
Article 11
  • Canada can join the confederation if it wants. All other colonies that want to join require the consent of at least 9 states.
Article 12 
  • The United States takes on the debt accrued to finance the revolution.
Article 13 
  • The states have to abide by the decisions of Congress once they join the confederation. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Gary Cox. 1997. Making Votes Count: Strategic Coordination in the World's Electoral Systems.

Gary W. Cox. Making Votes Count. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Chapters 1-3, 4 (pp. 69-80), 8, 10, 12-15.

The book focuses on district, post-entry politics. The post-entry period allows Cox to observe an actual number of entering candidates reduce to a smaller effective number of vote-getting candidates. (In contrast, pre-entry politics involves observing an indefinitely large number of potential candidates reduce to a definite field of actual candidates.)

The independent variables examined in the nature of electoral coordination problems:
  1. Electoral institutions - these determine how votes translate into seats and the available opportunities for trading votes in order to win more seats
  2. Political motivations / political actors' preferences
  3. Public expectations / actors' expectations
The strength of the incentive to form a coalition capable of securing a plurality of votes produced by an electoral system depends on how long the system is expected to last.

Review of perspectives about electoral systems:
  • Institutionalist perspective - party system deterimines the number of parties. 
    • Duverger: the simple-majority single-ballot system favors the two-party system; the simple-majority system with second and ballot proportional representation favors multipartyism. 
  • Sociological perspective - social and ideological cleavages explain party system and the number of parties; the greater the social fragmentation, the more probable is the adoption of a proportional electoral system and the rise of a multiparty system. 
  • Ordeshook and Shvetsova (1994) - the number of parties in a country increases with the diversity of the social structure and with the proportionality of the electoral structure and these effects interact. 
  • Leys and Sartori conjecture - There is a continuum of systems, ranging from those in which strategic voting imposes a constraining upper bound, to those in which it imposes a rarely-constraining or unconstraining upper bound, on the number of parties. 
Key terms:
  • Electoral system - set of laws and party rules that regulate electoral competition between and within parties. 
  • Electoral formula - method for translating candidate and/or list vote totals into an allocation of seats among cartels, lists, or candidates. 
  • Structure of an electoral system = subsystem within the electoral system
    • District structure has to do with the number, magnitude/size, and nature of electoral districts. District magnitude is the number of representatives it is entitled to elect. 
      1. Primary electoral district - district that cannot be partitioned into smaller districts within which votes are aggregated and seats allocated.
      2. Secondary electoral district (upper tier) - distrct that can be partitioned into two or more primary electoral districts.
    • Alliance structure has to do with opportunities to pool votes and refers only to the potential relationships that may obtain between candidates and lists, not to any actual pattern of use of the legal options. 
    • Formulaic structure / subsystem has to do with the multiplicity of different electoral formulas that can appear at different levels in a system
  • Exclusive candidate vote / single nontransferable vote benefits only the candidate for whom it is cast and never transfers any other vote total that is used for purposes of seat allocation.
  • Nonexclusive candidate vote / single transferable vote appears in the vote total of the candidate for whom it is cast and affects vote totals used in the allocation of legislative seats. 
  • Fused vote casts a single vote for a slate that includes a candidate for the presidency as well as candidates for the legislature. 
  • In casting multiple candidate votes, the allowance of plumping allows voters to not use all of their votes, panachage means voters need not vote only for candidates of one party, cumulation means voters can give more than one of their votes to a single candidate. 
  • Dual-ballot single-member systems allow voting for candidates in rounds. 
Duvergian equilibrium predicts the development of pre local bipartism as a result of strategic voting. Failures to achieve the reduction in third party vote totals can flow from:
  1. the presence of voters who are not short-term instrumentally rational
  2. lack of public information about voter preferences
  3. public belief that a particular candidate will win with certainty
  4. the presence of many voters who care intensely about their first choice and are nearly indifferent between their second and lower choices
Coordination at the local level affects the number of parties within each district, coordination at the national level affects the degree to which the local party systems cumulate into a national party system. The electoral systems in place at both district and national levels interact to determine the national party structure.

When coordination succeeds, the most readily observable consequence is a reduction in the number of electoral players: the number of lists or candidates appearing on the ballot is decreased when elites agree to a merger of parties, or a joint list, or a fusion candidacy; the effecive number of lists or candidates is decrased when voters strategically concentrate their votes on the more viable lists and candidates. When electoral coordination fails, the maladroit find themselves underrepresented while the better-coordinated find their representation magnified. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Adam Przeworski, Michael Alvarez, Jose Antonio Cheibub, and Fernando Limongi. 1996. What Makes Democracies Endure?

Adam Przeworski, Michael Alvarez, Jose Antonio Cheibub, and Fernando Limongi. “What Makes Democracies Endure?” Journal of Democracy 7 (January 1996), 39-55.

If a country, any randomly selected country, is to have a democratic regime next year, what conditions should be present in that country and around the world this year? The answer is: democracy, affluence, growth with moderate inflation, declining inequality, a favorable international climate, and parliamentary institutions. 

The survival of democracies does depend on their institutional systems. Parliamentary regimes last longer than presidential ones. Majority-producing electoral institutions are conducive to the survival of presidential systems; presidential systems facing legislative deadlock are particularly brittle. Both systems are vulnerable to bad economic performance, but presidential democracies are less likely to survive even when the economy grows than are parliamentary systems when the economy declines. Evidence indicate that parliamentary democracy survives longer and under a broader spectrum of conditions than presidential democracy.

There is no evidence that democracies are "consolidated" over time or that at any level of development the mere passage of time makes the demise of democracies less likely. The drop in hazard rates observed over time (uncorrected for the level of development) could just be the result of countries developing economically.

Andrew Roberts. 2010. The Quality of Democracy in Eastern Europe: Public Preferences and Policy Reforms

Andrew Roberts. The Quality of Democracy in Eastern Europe: Public Preferences and Policy Reforms. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Chapters 2 and 8.

The book follows the procedural definition of democracy, which is founded on two main institutions:
1)      Free, fair, and regular elections for a country's most powerful policy makers, in which all adult citizens are allowed to participate on an equal bases, both as voters and as candidates.
2)      A broad set of civil rights that allows these citizens to produce and obtain the information they need to participate effectively in these elections.

Some have evaluated the quality of democracies based on factors that would inhibit or promote individual and organization use of the democratic system; they focused on quality as procedures, preconditions, and outcomes of the system.
-          Diamond and Morlino include the rule of law as part of democratic quality with the argument that, when the rule of law is weak, participation of the poor and marginalized is suppressed, civic groups may be unable to organize and advocate, the resourceful and well-connected have more access to justice and pwer, and corruption and abuse of power run rampant as agencies of horizontal accountability are unable to function properly, voters have a hard time holding rules to account, and linkages vital to securing democratic responsiveness are disrupted.
-          Others judge the quality of democracy based on law and human development (Beetham et al. 2002, O'Donnell 2004), participation and civil society (Rose-Ackerman 2005), and corruption (O'Donnell 2004).

These affect the functioning of democracy (or any other regime), but are analytically distinct from democracy itself; they affect democratic quality but are not democratic quality. The concept of democratic quality should focus on those aspects of politics that are intimately related to democracy itself. Democracy is a set of formal possibilities for citizen rule; democratic quality assesses whether citizen rule exists.
-          The quality of democracy is equivalent to the degree to which citizens control their rulers / the strength of linkages between citizens and policy makers.
o   High quality democracy entails popular rule; popular rule moves beyond democracy because it considers not just the existence of democratic institutions, but also how the institutions work.

Democratic institutions promote popular rule in three different ways, which Roberts calls the three linkages at the heart of democratic quality. Elections and rights give citizens three different powers, all of which enable them to control policy makers and should be strong if democracy promotes citizen rule:
1)      the power to sanction incumbents (electoral accountability) - defined as the degree to which citizens punish and reward officials at the polls according to their performance.
2)      the power to select new officials (mandate responsiveness) - a politician or party is mandate responsive if it makes clear campaign promises and fulfills these promises once in office.
3)      the power to petition the government in between elections (policy responsiveness)

Five explanations for linkage quality:
1)      Socioeconomic modernization - transformation of a rural culture to an industrial/educated one should strengthen linkages; this explanation predicts little change in democratic quality over time because modernization occurs slowly.
-          This explanation predicts strong linkages, particularly in policy responsiveness for Eastern European countries, which was an initially agricultural, but modernized through forced industrialization with a universal safety net that lead citizens to urban, middle-class lifestyles with an equitable distribution of income.
2)      Civil Society - strong civil society should promote strong linkages
-          Since Eastern Europeans were reluctant to participate in voluntary organizations, postcommunist civil societies were weak; this explanation of linkage quality would predict poor policy responsiveness in Eastern Europe.
3)      Political institutions - both majoritarian and proportional institutions should promote policy responsiveness. Proportional institutions should impede electoral accountability moreso than majoritarian ones. This explanation predicts little change in democratic quality over time because institutional structures do not generally change radically.
-          For Eastern European countries, this explanation predicts high levels of mandate responsiveness (or at least programmaticness) and low levels of electoral accountability due to the more consensus/proportional/parliamentary systems.
4)      Authoritarian legacies - the degree that the authoritarian regimes engage in forced mobilization or ideological indoctrination campaigns will influence attitudes toward political participation and thus lower democratic quality. This explanation predicts a rising trend in quality because legacies that decrease quality of democracy should fade.
-          For Eastern European countries, this explanation predicts lower levels of quality. Communist societies left almost a complete absence of political society in their wake. Policy responsiveness should also be affected because political actors view the public as a mass to be herded or incited rather than listened to.
5)      Transition and Economic Constraints -  countries in transition can have people who are unable to engage in political action or constrain the policies politicians can pursue and thus lower democratic quality. This explanation predicts a rising trend in quality as transition constrains fade or reforms stabilize.
-          For Eastern European countries, this explanation predicts lower levels of quality. Mandate and policy responsiveness were constrained by the scope of economic reforms (liberalization and privatization of the entire economy) and pressure by the EU to conform to European standards.

Reality of Eastern European democratic quality:
1)      Electoral accountability became stronger over time and reached high levels early in transition.
2)      Mandate responsiveness was weak
3)      High levels of policy responsiveness with minimal trending.

1+2 ==> Institutions do not explain the particular form that quality takes.
3 ==> Socioeconomic modernization explains policy responsiveness in the region.

Socioeconomic modernization best explains the types of trends and linkages in Eastern Europe and the differences between Eastern Europe and Latin America/Western Europe

Improving citizen capabilities would raise income levels and ensure income is equitably distributed, provide existential security for citizens, and improve educational opportunities--all factors which helped Eastern Europe produce high-quality democracies. Not much evidence indicates that promoting political party and institutional development or encouraging civil society would improve democratic equality.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Richard Gunther, P. Nikoforos Diamandouros, and Hans-Jurge Puhle. 1996. O’Donnell’s ‘Illusions’: A Rejoinder

Richard Gunther, P. Nikoforos Diamandouros, and Hans-Jurge Puhle. “O’Donnell’s ‘Illusions’: A Rejoinder.” Journal of Democracy 7 (October 1996), 151-59.

Indicators of democratic consolidation that O'Donnell incorrectly attributes to Gunther Diamandouros, and Puhle (and which they reject outright) are:
1)      Alternation in power between former rivals
2)      Continued widespread support and stability of a regime during times of economic hardship
3)      Successful defeat and punishment of a handful of strategically placed rebels
4)      Regime stability in the face of radical restructuring of the party system

A regime is consolidated only when there is an absence of politically significant antisystem party or social movement.
-          But while the existence of a sizeable antisystem party is a useful indicator of the absense of consolidation, the extent to which a party is or is not antisystem must not be ascertained on the basis of accusations by rival parties, but must be independently confirmed by the analyst on the basis of the antisystem party's official ideological and programmatic declarations, speeches by their elites, or probing interviews with party leaders.

Consolidation is not inherently teleological, as claimed by O'Donnell, but its concept captures an extremely important dimension of the democratization process beyond the creation of democratic institutions and the holding of elections.
-          Attitudinal indicators of consolidation are useful in predicting behavior directly relevant to the stability and long-term survival of democratic regimes.
-          The range of institutions relevant to regime consolidation and long-term stability goes beyond the electoral process.

Particularistic and clientelistic arrangements exist in all democratic systems, but over the long run such practices are antithetical to the quality of democracy and can result in the delegitimation of democracy. Particularism and clientelism are incompatible with the unhindered exercise of suffrage: particularism, because it involves and perpetuates unequal treatment of individuals/groups; clientelism, because it entails systematic and persistent power imbalances within society, polity, and economy. Both breed discontent over exploitative relationships and destabilize regimes.

Guillermo O’Donnell. 1996. Illusions about Consolidation

Guillermo O’Donnell. “Illusions about Consolidation.” Journal of Democracy 7 (April 1996), 34-51.

The purpose of this paper is to furnish some elements of needed revision in the conceptual and comparative agenda for the study of all existing polyarchies, especially those that are informally institutionalized.

Juan J. Linz and Alfred Stepan. 1996. Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation

Juan J. Linz and Alfred Stepan. Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. Chapter 1.

A democratic transition is complete when the following conditions hold:
1)     Sufficient agreement has been reached about political procedures to produce an elected government
2)     A government comes to power that is the direct result of a free and popular vote
3)     This, aforementioned, government de facto has the authority to generate new policies
4)     The executive, legislative and judicial power generated by the new democracy does not have to share power with other bodies de jure.

Democratic consolidation occurs once democracy becomes "the only game in town"--that is, when:
1)     No significant political groups seriously attempt to overthrow the democratic regime or secede from the state.
2)     Even in the face of severe political and economic crises, an overwhelming majority of the people believe that any further political change must emerge from the parameters of democratic formulas.
3)     All the other actors in the polity become habituated to the fact that political conflict will be resolved according to the established norms (specific laws, procedures, and institutions) and that violations of these norms are likely to be both ineffective and costly.
4)     Democracy becomes routinized and deeply internalized in social, institutional, and even psychological life, as well as in calculations for achieving success.

Consolidated democracies break down due to new dynamics in which the regime cannot solve a set of problems; the breakdown is unrelated to weaknesses or problems specific to the historic process of democratic consolidation.

A robust civil society in a democracy guarantees the right of association and has the capacity to generate political alternative to monitor government and state; it helps push democratic transitions to their completion.

Political society crafts the constitution, laws, manages the state apparatus to support the civil society, and produces the overall regulatory framework for economic society.

No consolidated democracy has a purely free market economy or command economy; regulations are necessary to protect the interests of the public, but a purely command economy would deprive the society of the relative autonomy necessary in a consolidated democracy.