October 21, 2013
Problems of Democracy
Democracy and Equality
Rules of the game: political institutions, laws that protect fundamental human rights, rule of law
instead of rule of man, Rules are institutions/codified
Managing diversity: different interests in the world, democracies moderate them, rights, inclusions,
interest groups for different voices to be heard. Pluralism . Democracy facilitates
Institutionalized uncertainty: Democracies are uncertain, there are always alternative. You and your
interest may lose. There must be a chance that you’ll lose. This creates accountability and
responsiveness to respond to public. Promotes stability.
Variations of Democracy: wide variety of institutional variations, none are the same Dynamic and
changing all the time with context and history.
Equality : Core to liberal and Marxist tradition. It is also core to democracy . Two ways to think of it in
context to democracy:
1. Equality of Opportunity: equality in political process.
- Rules applied equally to every citizen
- About the individual, and the individual as a citizen
- PROCEDURAL DEMOCRACY , how do we manipulate rules of the game for equality. Not just
free elections but fair elections. Everybody has the political right to participate in election.
- Robert Dahl : polyarchy – Public Contestation (everyone should have the ability to
participate, participation, equality of opportunity. Inclusive Participation.
Median Voter System *
2. Equality of Outcome
- Political-economic equity, narrower gaps between women and men, narrower
discrimination. The outcome
- Procedural versus substantive democracy
- Example: democratic welfare state , emerge as a result of working class mobilization ,
modern labour unions to mobilize in context of democracy. Create war and equitable
outcome. Not opportunity but equality of outcome
Voter Turnout Rates
- Toronto- 50.6 % in 2010
- Ontario- 49.2% in 2011 Collective Action Problem
one of the fundamental challenges
Question: Why do people not vote?
Voting is a collective interest but you act in a self-interested way. We are self-interested and rational.
As a rational, selfish act we would not pick up garbage on the streets. There may be a collective reason
to do something but you act rationally. Engaging in collective action costs: watch debates, read
newspapers, debate pros and cons of candidates. Everything costs you and the benefits are the ones you
are going to benefit collectively but not individually. Benefit is not worth the cost. We free ride , want
collective good but do not want to do it ourselves .
- Enjoy the benefits but will not extend the costs
- Even if we have equality of opportunity (right to vote), we don’t exercise it. Serious
challenge in democracy
Equality of Opportunity - Challenges
The Fallacy of Democratic Pluralism:
Democratic pluralism—assumes politi