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Lecture 6

Lecture 6 10-22-12.pdf

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Jeffrey Kopstein

The Problems of Democracy 2012-10-22 2:50 PM Intro - Democracy is fragile - Relatively new set of institutions within government - Challenges within democracy- Internal Democracy and Equality - Rules of the game: Rule of law - By institutionalizing the rule of law, democracies are far more predictable in terms of what you can and cannot do - Democracy helps manage diversity - Because we live in a diverse society, people have contending interests - Democracy helps facilitate compromise - Political parties tend to converge toward the median voter which helps manage diversity - Democracies recognize that societies are diverse and embody different diverging interests - Helps to do a better job in facilitating commonwealth - Institutionalized uncertainty: More alternatives - You can vote a government out - There is a possibility of losing, no guarantee of winning - This creates accountability within parties and leaders - Governments must be responsive and accountable - Variations of Democracy - No two democracies alike, no fixed variables - The idea of democracy is flexible - The institutional rules differ in different countries that reflect local histories and socio-economic context - Changes over time, adapts to many circumstances and context - Equality - Fundamental to democracy (I) Equality of Opportunity - The Democratic Process - Allows for political equality: The separation of church and state, all equal as citizens under the rule of law - As individuals, we are all politically equal - Procedural democracy: The rules of the game - Example: The right to vote - Everyone gets a chance to participate in a free and fair election - Polyarchy (Robert Dahl) o 1. Public contestation o – People can dissent and deliberate o – People can assemble and mobilize to protest within the public sphere o 2. Inclusive participation o – Democracy is not an exclusive or exclusionary political game (II) Equality of Outcome - The creation of political-economic equity - Equality of outcome is about the consequences of democracy - Procedural versus substantive democracy: rules are only important if it results in an inclusive outcome - Example: Democratic welfare state - The debate of who gets taxed more in the US: Substantive democracy - Began with the rise of the welfare state, the mobilization of the working class - The higher rates of labour unionization led to more inclusive outcome - Unions were able to vote - Not the procedural rules but the outcome of the procedural rules Collective Action Problem - We all have a collective interest in who our next prime minister will be - When it comes to self interest – going to the ballot box – 40% of Canadians won’t go - We all believe in collective goods, but on the individual level, it is not rational to participate - 1. Costs – What one has to do in order to cast the ballot: Get informed, watch the news, debate, disagree with others - 2. Benefits – Single vote does not matter, does not tip the scales. The benefits to the individual are so miniscule that it becomes irrational. The benefits are not worth the cost - 3. Free-riding – The dependence on someone else to participate in political action – voting – for you - - It is not “rational” to vote. It is in the collective interest to vote but not in the rational self interest - The only incentives are moral suasion, economic incentive, coercion - The first challenge to democracy are even if we have the equality of process, people do not exercise in it Equality of Opportunity – Challenges Challenge 1. Even if we have
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