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POLI 212- FEBRUARY 29.docx

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Political Science
Course Code
POLI 212
Hudson Meadwell

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FEBRUARY 29, 2012:  Liphart’s Readings: is interested in democracy regimes. He covers a period of 1945- 1980 and the countries have been continuously democratic for that time period- he included 22 countries (but counts France’s 4 Republic and France’s 5 republic as two different countries.) He wants to classify their similarities and differences. He says that liberal democracy has many significant differences within it (majoritarian vs. consensual). He has a causal argument: political regimes reflect qualities of society. Political regimes are adaptations to certain social features. It is a society centred view of how regimes come to be.  Liphart’s distinctions between majoritarian and consensus democracy: The basic distinction is that in a majoritarian democracy you concentrate as much power as possible in the hands of the majority, still subject to democratic rules of the game. In a consensus democracy, they want to share and disperse political power as much as possible. Both are representative democracy, not direct democracy.  He develops a 2x2 typology to classify countries. There are 2 dimensions: a territorial dimension and an institutional dimension (their institutional profile of the regime).  The institutional profile of a regime asks a question about relations between legislature and executive. Is legislative power concentrated or not? Is the party system a 2 party system or a multi party system? What is the issue space of politics- is the party system one-dimensional or multi dimensional (is there one issue that dominates politics or are these multiple issues that organize discourse). Is the electoral system a plurality system or a system of proportional representation?  In majoritarian democracy, executive power is concentrated, the party system tends to be a two party system, the issue space is one-dimensional, and the electoral system is a plurality system, sometimes known as first-past-the-post. The characteristics of consensus democracy are the opposite.  The territorial profile is the second dimension. The questions are: Is power concentrated territorially or is it divided (is it asking whether a regime is unitary and centralized or federal and decentralized)?  The dimensions are independent because a regime can score high in one dimension and low in another.  His basic argument is that there is a clear relationship between the type of regime and whether societies are plural or not. The more plural a society, the more consensual its regime. “Homogenous societies in which a high degree of agreement exists can afford majoritarian and competitive government.”  In societies which are plural societies the situation is much more difficult. To say that society is plural is to say that exist different values and these issues and politicized, and they are the basis of political organization. Political management in more difficult. Plural societies require a different type of political organization if those societies are to be stable through time. What a consensus regime provides for a plural society are incentives for power sharing among different groups. What motivates his analysis are differences connected to values more generally, not class or income, especially societies deeply divided along religious, cultural, or ethnically.  Political stability is a consequence of a fit between social structure and political regime.  He is saying that the assumption that all democracies should be majoritarian is a recipe for instability in some situations.  A central regime is designed to accommodate the differences in a plural society. This regime encourages coalition governments that include several different parties that represent different social defined groups. A consensual regime will tend to be relatively de-centralized in terms of territories. In a consensus regime, you should expect to find multiple points of access to political power. You don’t have to fear power concentrated at the territorial centre.  Political institutions of a majoritarian regime in a plural setting will exacerbate differences.  He goes to argue that in some plural societies, eve
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