Political Science 1G06 2012 Lecture 11a Non-Democratic political systems
- In their 2011 analysis, Freedom House classified 115 of 193 countries as electoral democracies
- 59% of the total
- Meaning that 41% of the total are not democratic
- So, if we only focus on Liberal Democracies,
o We are missing out on a very large piece of the world’s political puzzle
- We avoid asking a number of political questions
- Like: How is it possible to construct a stable political system where the majority of the population is formally excluded
from the political process?
- Consider: Are authoritarian regimes sustained just by the imposition of force?
o Or do they use specific strategies to produce legitimacy within the state in which they operate?
- Note: In exploring the justifications for authoritarianism I am not attempting to justify these justifications
- Rather, there are two purposes I am aiming at:
- 1. To understand non-democratic states on their own terms
o Why are non-democratic ideologies so attractive to such a large number of people?
- 2. To the extent that non-liberal democracies often justify themselves as being more democratic than liberal democracy
- Can we identify limitations to our own system of government?
- Can we improve liberal democracy in practice to make it more just and egalitarian?
- Liberal Democracies – at least two things are present
- 1. The majority can vote
- 2. There are freely contested elections
- Non-Liberal-Democratic Political systems – where both of the above factors are not present
- For reasons of simplicity we will call these political systems authoritarian (although some may be totalitarian)
- Why do authoritarian regimes form in some locations but not in others?
- 1. One possibility: Economic Causes?
- For many Liberal economists
o Wealth and the distribution of wealth are the key factors explaining the existence of authoritarian political
- In countries that are materially poor and in which there is a great polarity in wealth, authoritarian governments are more
- Liberal solution: Free Markets
- Free markets will create a middle class
- This class will seek to extend its economic power into the political realm
- It will mobilize politically to protect that wealth from arbitrary expropriation
- However, wealth alone does not appear to be a sufficient explanation for autocracy or democracy
- Nor are free markets (in and of themselves) a sufficient solution to the problem of authoritarianism
- Why do large populations voluntarily support authoritarian political systems when there are clear democratic
- How is legitimacy manufactured (see Mayer for an elaboration of this list)
- 1. Consequentialist Justification
- Authoritarian government is a means to an ends rather than a legitimate end in and of itself
- If a society wants to achieve a certain goal (like economic development), Liberal Democracy may not be the best route
(according to this justification)
- 2. Principled Justification
- Some authoritarian regimes justify themselves as being superior political systems in and of themselves
o Despite the claims of liberal democra