What Democracy Is. . . and Is Not

What Democracy Is. . . and Is Not

(Parte 1 de 3)

(jJvW-i? j cUMM'i fhe DemocraticMoment tantfactor-the largely .is certainlynotmeant analogoussitua~ion.Yet spectrumseemto agree, political, economic,and ~rioussocial or economic

: terriblefor Americans,it ~sof democracyworldwide. st be to repairthefabricof

WOUn

Thus the highest I-nh our own democraticorder.

That is not to advocate,however,thatAmerica"comehome"and turn its backon its internationalresponsibilitiesas the world's leading democracy.It is truethattheenergiesandresourcesof theUnitedStates arenotunlimited,butif properlydirected,theyaresufficientfor bothits domesticand internationalneeds.There is no real conflict between improving democracy at home and supporting its spread and consolidationabroad.Just as the modelprovidedby a healthyUnited

Statesenhancestheaspirationfor democracyelsewhere,so theprogress of the strugglefor democracyaroundthe world can give Americans renewedappreciationof theprinciplesonwhichourcountrywasfounded andon which its futuresuccessdepends.

I. DanielP. Moynihan,'The AmericanExperiment,"ThePublicInterest41 (Fall 1975),6.

2. FrancisFukuyama,'The End of History,"The NationalInterest16(Summer1989), 3.18.

3. Miklos Haraszti, "A Choice BetweenResolution and Emotion," East European Reporter,Spring.Summer1990,76.

4. SeeSeymourMartin Lipset, "The Deathof theThird Way," The National Interest 20 (Summer1990),25.37.

5. Milan Simecka,"The Restorationof Freedom,"Journal of DemocracyI (Summer 1990):3.12.

6. WashingtonPost, 31 March 1991,A23. 7. Interviewwith Vaclav Klaus, NFF Update,Winter 1991,2.

8. Adam Smith,The Wealthof Nations,2 vols. (Chicago:Universityof ChicagoPress, 1976),2:230.

9. Ken Jowitt, "The New World Disorder,".loumal of Democracy2 (Winter 1991):I. 20.

10.SamuelP. Huntington,"Democracy'sThird Wave,"Jou/'/wlof Delll~cracy2 (Spring1991):27.

PhilippeC. Schmitter& TerryLynnKarZ

PhilippeC.Schmitterisprofessorofpoliticalscienceanddirectorofthe Centerfor EuropeanStudiesatStanfordUniversity.TerryLynnKarl is associateprofessorofpoliticalscienceanddirectorof theCenterfor LatinAmericanStudiesat thesameinstitution,Theoriginal,longer versionof thisessaywaswrittenat therequestof theUnitedStates

Agencyfor InternationalDevelopment,whichis notresponsiblefor its content.

For sometime,theworddemocracyhasbeencirculatingasa'debased currencyin thepoliticalmarketplace.Politicianswith,a .wide,rangeof convictionsandpracticesstrovetoappropriatethelabeland:.attachit to theiractions.Scholars,conversely,hesitatedto useit-without,adding qualifyingadjectives-becauseof theambiguitythatsurrgundsi,it..The distinguishedAmericanpoliticaltheorist"RobertD~.L!eventriedto introducea newterm,"polyarchy,"in its steadin the(vain),hopeof gaininga greatermeasureof conceptualprecision.)Butrfor':jbetteror worse,weare"stuck"withdemocracyasthecatchwor,dofcontemporary politicaldiscourse.It is thewordthatresonatesin people'smindsand springsfromtheirlipsastheystruggleforfreedomanda~tter,.wayof life;it,is thewordwhosemeaningwemustdiscernif it is tobe/.of.any usein guidingpoliticalanalysisandpractice. ih~~~f{,;:;\

Thewave,of transitionsawayfromautocraticrote.tha!~b,eganjwith

Portugal's"Revolutionof theCarnations"in 1974and§~msj;,tohave crestedwiththecollapseof communistregimesacross.~asternEurope in 1989hasproduceda welcomeconvergencetowards,a"i,common definitionof democracy.I Everywheretherehas beenal".1;si!ent abandonmentofdlfbiou~adjectiveslike"popular,""guided'!i~ibourgeois;!' and"formal"tomodify"democracy."At thesametime..'!4\.;remarkable consensushasemergedconcerningtheminimalconditions:::.that,polities mustmeetinordertomerittheprestigiousappellationof !'democrati<;;~

Moreover,anumberofinternationalorganizationsnowmonitorhowwell'

WhatDemocracyIsandIs Not

thesestandardsaremet;indeed,somecountriesevenconsiderthemwhen formulatingforeignpolicy.2

What Democracy Is

Letusbeginbybroadlydefiningdemocracyandthegenericconcepts thatdistinguishit asa uniquesystemfororganizingrelationsbetween rulersandtheruled.We will thenbrieflyreviewprocedures,therules andarrangementsthatareneededif democracyis toendure.Finally,we will discusstwooperativeprinciplesthatmakedemocracywork.They are not expresslyincludedamongthe genericconceptsor formal procedures,buttheprospectfordemocracyis grimif theirunderlying conditioningeffectsarenotpresent. .

Oneof themajorthemesof thisessayis thatdemocracydoesnot consistof a singleuniquesetof institutions.Thereare.manytypesof democracy,andtheirdiversepracticesproducea similarlyvariedsetof effects.The specificform democracytakesis contingentupona country'ssocioeconomicconditionsas welI as its entrenchedstate structuresandpolicypractices.

Modernpoliticaldemocracyisasystemofgovernanceinwhichrulers areheldaccountablefor theiractionsin thepublicrealmbycitizens.

actingindirectlythroughthecompetitionandcooperationoftheirelectedrepresentatives.3

A regimeorr~ystemof governanceis anensembleof patternsthat determinesthemethodsof accessto theprincipalpublicoffices;the

characteristicsof theactorsadmittedtoor excludedfromsuchaccess; thestrategiesthatactorsmayusetogainaccess;andtherulesthatare followedinthemakingofpubliclybindingdecisions.To workproperly, theensemblemustbe institutionalized-thatis to say,the various patternsmustbehabituallyknown,practiced,andacceptedbymost,if not all, actors. Increasingly,the preferred mechanismof institutionalizationis a writtenbodyof lawsundergirdedby a written constitution,thoughmanyenduringpoliticalnormscanhaveaninformal,prudential,or traditionalbasiS.4

Forthesakeofeconomyandcomparison,theseforms,characteristics, andrulesare usuallybundledtogetherand givena genericlabel.

Democraticis one; othersare autocratic,authoritarian,despotic, dictatorial,tyrannical,totalitarian,absolutist,traditional,monarchic, oligarchic,plutocratic,aristocratic,andsultanistic.5Eachof theseregime formsmayin turnbebrokendownintosubtypes.

Like all regimes,democraciesdependuponthepresenceof ~, personswhooccupyspecializedauthorityrolesandcangivelegitimate commandsto others.What distinguishesdemocraticrulers from nondemocraticonesarethenormsthatconditionhowtheformercome topowerandthepracticesthatholdthemaccountablefortheiractions.

q. ~;

.. PhilippeC. SchmitterandTerryLynn Karl

Thepublicrealmencompassesthemakingof collectivenonnsand choicesthatarebindingonthesocietyandbackedbystatecoercion.Its contentcan varya greatdealacrossdemocracies,dependingupon preexistingdistinctionsbetweenthepublicandtheprivate,stateand society,legitimatecoercionandvoluntaryexchange,andcollectiveneeds, and individualpreferences.The liberal conception.of democracy advocatescircumscribingthepublicrealmasnarrowlyaspossible,while thesocialistor social-democraticapproachwouldextendthatrealm throughregulation,subsidization,and, in some cases,.collective ownershipof property.Neitheris intrinsicallymoredemocraticthanthe other-justdifferentlydemocratic.This impliesthatmeasuresaimedat

"developingthe,privatesector"arenomoredemocratictijanthoseaimed>at"developingthepublicsector."Both,if carriedto extremes,could undenninethepracticeof democracy,theformerbydestroyingthebasis for satisfyingcollectiveneedsandexercisinglegitimateauthority;the latterby destroyingthebasisfor satisfyingindividualpreferencesand controllingillegitimategovernmentactions.Differencesof opinionover theoptimalmixof thetwoprovidemuchof thesubstantivecontentof politicalconflictwithinestablisheddemocracies. Citizensarethemostdistinctiveelementindemocracies.All regimes haverulersanda publicrealm,butonlyto theextentthattheyare. .I' democraticdo theyhavecitizens.Historically,severerestrictionson citizenshipwereimposedin mostemergingor partialdemocracies accordingto criteriaof age,gender,class,race,literacy,property ownership,tax-payingstatus,andsoon.Onlyasmallpartof thetotal populationwaseligibletovoteor runfor office.Onlyrestrictedsocial categorieswereallowedtoform,join, or supportpoliticalassociations.

After protractedstruggle-insomecasesinvolvingviolentdomestic upheavalor internationalwar-most of theserestrictionswerelifted. Today,thecriteriaforinclusionarefairlystandard.All native-bornadults areeligible,althoughsomewhathigheragelimitsmaystillbeimposed uponcandidatesfor certainoffices.UnliketheearlyAmericanand

Europeandemocraciesof thenineteenthcentury,noneof therecent democraciesin southernEurope,LatinAmerica,Asia,orEasternEurope hasevenattemptedto imposefonnalrestrictionson thefranchiseor eligibilityto office.Whenit comesto informalrestrictions011the effectiveexerciseof citizenshiprights,however,thestorycan,bequite different.This explainsthecentralimportance(discussedbelow)of procedures.

Competitionhasnotalwaysbeenconsideredan es~entialdefining conditionofdemocracy."Classic"democraciespresumeddecisionmaking basedon directparticipationleadingto consensus.The assembled citizenrywasexpectedto agreeon a com~rse of actionafter listeningto thealternativesandweighingtheirrespectivemeritsand demerits.A traditionof hostilityto "faction,"and"particularinterests"

42 WhatDemocracyIs . ..andIs Not persistsin democraticthought,butatleastsinceTheFederalistPapers it hasbecomewide1yacceptedthatcompetitionamongfactionsis a necessaryevilin democraciesthatoperateon a more-than-Iocalscale.

Since,asJamesMadisonargued,"thelatentcausesof factionaresown intothenatureof man,"andthepossible remediesfor"themischiefof faction"are

"However central worsethanthedisease,thebestcourseisto to democracy, recognizethemandto attemptto control elections occur theireffects.6Yet while democratsmay intermittently and agreeontheinevitabilityof factions,they only allow citizens tendto disagreeaboutthebestformsand to choosebetween rulesfor govemingfactionalcompetition.

the highly Indeed,differencesover the preferred aggregated modes and boundariesof competition alternatives contributemost to distinguishingone offeredby political subtypeof democracyfromanother.

parties..." The most popular definition of democracyequatesit withregularelections, fairly conductedand honestly~d. Someevenconsiderthemerefactof elections--evenonesfromwhich specificpartiesor candidatesareexcluded,or in whichsubstantial

portionsof thepopulationcannotfreelyparticipate-asa sufficient conditionfortheex)stenceof democracy.Thisfallacyhasbeencalled "electoralism"or "thefaiththatmerelyholdingelectionswill channel politicalactionintopeacefulcontestsamongelitesandaccordpublic legitimacytothewinners"-nomatterhowtheyareconductedor what elseconstrainsthosewhowin them.7Howevercentralto democracy, electionsoccurintermittentlyandonlyallowcitizenstochoosebetween thehighlyaggregatedalternativesofferedbypoliticalparties,whichcan, especiallyin theearlystagesof a democratictransition,proliferatein a bewilderingvariety.Duringtheintervalsbetweenelections,citizenscan seekto influencepublicpolicy througha wide varietyof other intermediaries:interestassociations,socialmovements,localitygroupings, lientelisticarrangements,andso forth.Moderndemocracy,in other words,offersa varietyof competitiveprocessesandchannelsfor the expressionof interestsandvalues--associationalas wellas partisan, unctionalaswellasterritorial,collectiveaswellasindividual.All are integralto itspractice.

Anothercommonlyacceptedimageof democracyidentifiesit with ma;orityrule.Any governingbodythatmakesdecisionsbycombining thevotesof morethanhalfof thoseeligibleandpresentis saidtobe democratic,whetherthatmajorityemergeswithin an electorate,a parliament,a committee,a city council,or a partycaucus.For exceptionalpurposes(e.g.,amendingtheconstitutionor expellinga member),"qualifiedmajorities"of morethan50 percentmaybe

PhilippeC. SchmitterandTerryLynnKarl 43 required,butfew woulddenythatdemocracymustinvolvesomemeans of aggregatingtheequalpreferencesof individuals. A problemarises,however,when numbersmeetintensities.What happenswhena properlyassembledmajority(especiallya stable,self- perpetuatingone)regularlymakesdecisionsthatharmsomeminority .(especiallyathreatened'culturalorethnicgroup)?Inthesecircumstances, successfuldemocraciestendtoqualifythecentralprincipleof majority rulein ordertoprotectminorityrights.Suchqualificationscantakethe formof constitutionalprovisionsthatplacecertainmattersbeyondthe reachofmajorities(billsofrights);requirementsforconcurrentmajorities inseveraldifferentconstituencies(confederalism);guaranteessecuringthe autonomyof localorregionalgovernmentsagainstthedemandsof the centralauthority(federalism);grand coalition governmentsthat incorporateall parties(consociationalism);or thenegotiationof social pacts betweenmajor social groups like businessand labor

(neocorporatism).Themostcommonandeffective:,wayof protecting minorities,however,liesintheeverydayoperationofinterestassociations andsocialmovements'.Thesereflect(somewouldsay,amplify)the differentintensitiesof preferencethatexistin thepopulationandbring themto bearondemocraticallyelecteddecisionmakers.Anotherway of puttingthisintrinsictensionbetweennumbersangintensitieswould be to saythat"in modemdemocracies,votesmaybe counted,but influencesaloneareweighted."

Cooperationhasalwaysbeenacentralfeatureof democracy.Actors mustvoTtintarilymakecollectivedecisionsbindingon thepolityasa whole.Theymustcooperatein ordertocompete.Theymustbecapable of actingcollectivelythroughparties,associations,andmovementsin ordertoselectcandidates,articulatepreferences,petitionauthorities,and influencepolicies. Butdemocracy'sfreedomsshouldalsoencouragecitizenstodeliberate amongthemselves,todiscovertheircommonneeds,andtoresolvetheir differences.withoutrelyingonsomesupremecentral~uthority.Classical democracyemphasizedthesequalities,andtheyarebynomeansextinct, despiterepeatedeffortsbycontemporarytheoriststostresstheanalogy with behaviorin the economicmarketplaceand to reduceall of democracy'soperationstocompetitiveinterestmaximization.Alexisde

Tocquevillebestdescribedtheimportanceof independentgroupsfor democracyinhisDemocracyinAmerica,aworkwhichremainsamajor sourceof inspirationforallthosewhopersistin viewingdemocracyas somethingmorethan,a strugglefor electionandre-electionamong competing:candidates.s In contemporarypoliticaldiscourse,thisphenomenonof cooperation anddeliberationviaautonomousgroupactivitygoesundertherubricof "civil society."The diverseunitsof socialidentityandinterest,by remainingindependentof thestate(andperhapsevenof parties),not

(Parte 1 de 3)

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