Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries Paperback – Jul 11 1999
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is well written but I found reading it to be a challenge the first time through since I am not a political scientist; it was much easier the second time. The following is a summary. Quotations in the first three paragraphs below are from the Introduction.
"Defining democracy as 'government by and for the people' raises a fundamental question: who will do the governing and to whose interests should the government be responsive when the people are in disagreement and have divergent preferences? One answer to this dilemma is: the majority of the people. This is the essence of the majoritarian model of democracy."
"The alternative answer to the dilemma is: as many people as possible. This is the crux of the consensus model. It accepts majority rule only as a minimum requirement: instead of being satisfied with narrow decision-making majorities, it seeks to maximize the size of these majorities."
"The majoritarian model concentrates political power in the hands of a bare majority', though in practice it is merely a plurality, often less than a majority. "The consensus model tries to share, disperse and limit power in a variety of ways." "The majoritarian model of democracy is exclusive, competitive and adversarial, whereas the consensus model is characterized by inclusiveness, bargaining and compromise."
Characteristics of democracies are found to be in two groups of five, as shown in the table below.Read more ›
The other outstanding aspect of the book is that by the end, the reader is broadly familiar with the structure of all 36 democracies. You walk away understanding how diverse the party formations of federal Germany are, or how UK Commonwealths tend to mirror their colonial power in terms of parliamentary power, centralisation of power, and so forth.
Because of its lucid and and pragmatic structure, as well as its strong comparative approach, I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about what features differentiate democracies and why France is or is not similar to Japan or Paupa New Guinea--an excellent study by a classic thinker!
Arend Lijphart is a staple of political science honours classes in Australia with good reason. As for the Communist manifesto - good in theory - not so good in practice - all people need the right to free expression 'cos they're humans capable of independent thought - they're not drones! Cf. fall of eastern bloc!
Most recent customer reviews
Lijphart was indeed on the the most influential political scientists of his generation.
This book, however, is pure advocacy and a simple rehashing of previous work. Read more
This is a successor to Lijphart's Democracies, which covered twenty-two countries. It is expanded to include LDCs like India, Costa Rica and Jamaica. Read morePublished on March 20 2000
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