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Tanguay Reforming Representative Democracy.docx

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 221
Rick Schultz

Tanguay, A. Brian, “Reforming Representative Democracy: Taming Canada’s Democratic Deficit” in James Bickerton and Alain Gagnon (eds.) Canadian th Politics (4 ed.)(Broadview Press: 2004) pp.263-285.  Need to revitalize democratic institutions, especially because of voters turnout at elections. “democratic deficit” What is a democratic deficit and does Canada have one?  Term first used in Europe in 1970s  Commision Béland au Québec: minorities are underrepresented, too much power in too little hands and democratic institutions seem to lack power.  Reform initiatives in many provinces (even if not public policies, just intentions) reflects the growing concern among political decision-makers about the health of democratic institutions in the country  Also, growing numbers of civil groups using the government to restore public faith in our democratic system (Democracy watch, fair vote Canada)  Single most important indicator of democratic malaise is the declining voter turnouts  17 of the 19 nations in the Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development (OECD) the voter turnouts are lower than in the 1950s  Negative public attitudes toward the performance of politicians and political institutions are the principal factor of declining voter turnouts. Widespread perceptions that politicians are selfish, untrustworthy, etc.  Public mistrust of politicians has been growing in most of the established democracies  Political parties membership and partisan attachment have also declined  However, voters follow the political process more closely, because the general level of education of the population is higher than in the 1960s and 1970s  The effect of age on political attitudes: individuals born after 1970 vote less. (25 years and under). Far less interested or informed about politics. More likely to experience problems with the registration process or too busy.  No part of “life cycle”, the whole generation is less likely to vote then their parents  The political disengagement is not likely to be reversed or halted. It might even drop even more during the upcoming elections.  The democratic malaise is not a crisis of democracy  The commitment to the ideal of democracy is more widespread and intense than before  Widespread idea for voters that their vote does not count, since Harper holds a “friendly dictatorship” (democ
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