European Political Science
Lecture 2: Democracy Definitions
Structural and Voluntarist Explanations
o Almost impossible for any individual to alter.
o Focuses on the structure of the government, such as poorness of
wealth and military within a country.
o They are long-term issues, and largely historical.
o Altered by individuals.
o Lenin would be a voluntarist explanation for the Russian
Revolution, because there was a possibility that he could not have
changed Russia for the better.
Definitions of Democracy
• Radical Definitions point to real problems in developed countries and
economies and focuses on them. The definition of democracy what we
use to see today doesn’t truly capture society because it doesn’t exist.
• Minimalist Definitions focus on the existence of multi party elections. It is
easy to identify around the world, but many countries have different
• Procedural Definitions have (1) fair and free elections – Anyone can
compete and people have a choice. (2) Adult Suffrage – Every adult can
vote. (3) Elected Officials have power – They cannot be vetoed by the
military, etc. (4) Civil Liberties – Right to speak out and protest the
government. (5) Uneven Playing Field – Creates a less chance of
violations and less international interruptions.
Culture Arguments (Structural)
• The community is more important than the individual, and that there is
only one truth. An example of a society like this is a catholic society,
which are strongly hierarchal. Islam societies also have a strong
connection between church and state.
• Confucianism favors the group over the individual, and is strongly against
any type of conflict, which is a little different from mainstream religions.
• The cultural arguments are (1) Static, which provides no m