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Reading Notes

Political Science
Course Code
Jeffrey Kopstein

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October 4 – Reading Notes
Comparing Democratic SystemsHorowitz
Attacks Linzs claims that parliamentary systems are better for a nation than presidency
1. Linzs sample is highly selective and skewed, principally from Latin America
2. His claims rest on exaggerated notions of presidency
3. They assume a particular system of electing the president, which is not necessarily the best system
4. By ignored the functions of a separately elected president, they defeat Linzs own admirable
pur poses
Linz argues there is generally no lawful way to get rid of a failed president in the middle of his term,
while parliamentary governments are forced into re-election (confl i ct is routinized and need not
escalate to a crisis)
Horowitz responds wit h the notion that presidents need not be elected on a plurality or majority-
1. A system where presidents are elected on broadly distributed support alleviates the problem
of the narrowly elected president who is disillusioned to a broader mandate
Argues that Linzs analysis is too heavily based on electoral assumptions
Criteria for Assessing Electoral SystemsBlais
Asks: Why is it a good thing that legislators be chosen by the people in fair and honest election?
Identifies two major benefits which come from democratic elections:
The policies adopted by elected representatives are more likely to reflect the views of the majority
Conf lict is more likely to be dealt with peacefully in a democracy
Holding elections increases legislators sensitivity to public opinion and congruence is created as a
Accountability is the first mechanism; politicians will propose policies which reflect the wants of the
majority to maximize their chances of being re-elected
Representation; electors will vote for the candidates who best represent their views, the decisions
made by legislators should resemble those that citizens would have made in a direct democracy
Fairness; losing parties will not resort to violence since they view their loss as legitimate (no evidence
of institutional bias)
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