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Public Choice and the Challenges of Democracy

Edited by José Casas Pardo and Pedro Schwartz

This timely and important volume addresses the serious challenges faced by democracy in contemporary society. With contributions from some of the world’s most prestigious scholars of public choice and political science, this comprehensive collection presents a complete overview of the threats democracy must confront, by both contesting accepted ideas and offering new approaches. Using theoretical and empirical evidence, this book will be a significant addition to the current literature, providing original and enlightening perspectives on the theory of democracy.
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Chapter 5: Towards a More Consistent Design of Parliamentary Democracy and its Consequences for the European Union

Charles B. Blankart and Dennis C. Mueller


† Charles B. Blankart and Dennis C. Mueller* 1 TWO WAYS TO DEPART FROM DIRECT DEMOCRACY During the last decade of the twentieth century, a large number of democratic states emerged out of the ashes of the Soviet empire. They all took the form of parliamentary democracies, that is, of governments mostly elected by parliaments re-sorting themselves from elections on a proportional basis, some with an elected president, some with a second chamber. Their relative merits have rarely been questioned. An often-mentioned exception is Barro (1997) who has asked whether more authoritarian or more pluralistic democracies are able to generate higher rates of economic growth. His intention was to find an optimal democracy with regard to growth. In our view, however, democracy is not so much an instrument to generate growth, but rather a mechanism to find out and to execute what voters want. The question we want to ask is: what is the form of democracy that most faithfully transforms the outcome of democratic voting into collective actions? A point of reference to this question is direct democracy of the town-hall type. For in a direct democracy, there is no need of an intermediating agent interpreting and transforming the outcome of voting into political action. Political decisions are rather simultaneously decided and put into action by the citizens themselves. Direct democracy rests on the following three core principles: 1. 2. sovereignty is exercised directly by the citizens; the condition of one man, one vote applies; and † Originally published as Charles...

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