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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 6: Democracy, Citizen Sovereignty and Constitutional Economics

Viktor J. Vanberg


Viktor J. Vanberg 1 INTRODUCTION This chapter is an exercise in conceptual clarification. Its purpose is to explore the contribution that constitutional economics can make to the theory of democracy. Constitutional economics as the economics of rules is concerned with the study of how the choice of rules in the social, economic and political realm affects the nature of the processes of human interaction that evolve within these rules. The theory of democracy is concerned with institutional-organizational problems of self-governing polities. The purpose of the chapter is to examine some of the fundamental issues that are brought into focus by applying the perspective of constitutional economics to the rules and institutions of a democratic polity. Sections 2 and 3 discuss general characteristics of the constitutional economics paradigm that are of particular significance to the study of democratic institutions. Sections 4 and 5 explore the contribution that a constitutional economics perspective can make in diagnosing organizational problems of democratic polities. Section 6 concludes. 2 CONSTITUTIONAL ECONOMICS AS APPLIED SCIENCE Constitutional economics in the Buchanan tradition is based on a methodological as well as a normative individualism. It starts from the presumptions that, first, social aggregate phenomena should be explained in terms of the behavior of individual human beings plus the combined effects of their interaction, and that, second, the values of the individuals involved should be regarded as the normative measuring rod against which the legitimacy of social institutions and collective arrangements is to be judged. Because...

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