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V. Democracy and Political elites


Comparative Politics IV. Government Functions and Ministerial Delegation Luca Verzichelli / Filippo Tronconi Comparative Politics Academic year 2014-2015 – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: V. Democracy and Political elites

V. Democracy and Political elites
  • Luca Verzichelli / Alessandro Chiaramonte
  • Comparative Political Institutions
  • Academic year 2015-2016

Old and new Elitism
  • Mosca 1896 and the idea of the Ruling class
  • Pareto 1916 and the dynamics of the Elite
  • Michels 1911 and the iron law of oligarchy
  • Weber and Shumpeter are also considered classic
    elitists although their notion of elite is
    already contemporary.
  • The debate in North America between pluralists
    and elitists and most of the behaviouralist
    scholars are inspired by the European tehory of
  • Even a neo-marxist elitism?
  • A new paradigm? Robert Putnam 1976 claims for a
    comparative and empirical approach. Later, Higley
    and Field propose a new theoretical perspective
    based on new elitism

Elites and the question of democratic
  • New elitist approach built on Shumpeter and
  • (Sartori, the theory of democracy revisited,
  • Different focus on elite theory from the studies
    of democratic dynamics
  • (Huntington, the Third wave, 1991 vs. Przeworski
    and others)
  • Focus on policy outcomes and transformation of
    policy communities
  • (different approaches)
  • Cultural and historical path dependencies
  • (Putnam, making democracy works, 1993, Bowling
    alone, 2000)
  • Elite centred theories not mentioning elites
  • - Actor-centred institutionalism
  • - Rational choice institutionalism

Persistent emphasis on elites role but with
some variations
  • Elites should rule. But they are differently
    responsible and differently stratifies (experts,
    networks, interactions ).
  • Citizens choose between elite proposals but by
    means of different democratic tools.
  • Result should be an efficient government but with
    new system of control over elites action.
  • Politics is still too (or even more) complex for
    average citizens. But we should avoid apathy

Redefining all the representative
institutionsChallenges to elites or other?
  • Reintroducing the argument of the decline of
    representative institutions (quest for
    participatoy democracy and deliberative
  • Decline of party-democracy and emphasis on public
    opinion (Manin)
  • Counter-democracy and new social pluralism
  • Still a relevant role of representative
    institution but challenges from social
    complexity, immigration, etc.

Putnams lesson bridging long term elite
transformation to macro-explanations
A classic picture of long term parliamentary
elite change the decline of nobility and the
rise of party professionals (Cotta and Best 2007)
Leader democracy (Koroseny 2005)
Patterns of legislative turnover. Matland and
Studlar 2004
Type of exit Cause of Exit Independent variable
Involuntary De-Selection El. system party strategy on replacing incumbents
Inter-party electoral defeat El. system personal vote Frequency of elections
Intraparty electoral defeat Threat of losing to fellow party member
Intra/inter party electoral defeat El. system double listing of candidates
Electoral defeat Electoral volatility
Failure to be re-nominated Party ideology
Voluntary Pursue private career Cost of staying
Desire to retire Frequency of election
Dissatisfaction with being a legislator Pleasure power
Many of the hypotheses are confirmed. Electoral
volatility and party system changes remain the
most relevant factors of legislative turnover,
but a set of institutional factors stemming from
the design of electoral institutions is also
important. Party ideology is less and less
The quest for internal party democracyHazan and
Rahat 2010 (ch. 10)
Crucial question Which candidate selection
method better serves democracy? Democracy should
be understood and achieved in terms of both
intraparty selection and interparty election.
However, there is no single method serving all
the crucial democratic goals (enforcing
participation, producing democratic outputs,
providing governmental power and party strength)
. A possible selection method three different
selectorates, using moderate requirements for
candidacy, and allowing the national center a say
in candidate selection. Party democracy not as
just participation Participation can help the
party to find the best and most competitive
New answers for an old question ministerial
duration and durability Fischer, Dowding and
Dumont 2012
  • A growing research programme on the duration of
    cabinet ministers.
  • New refined questions about elites
  • New analytical tools.
  • Factors of ministerial durability
  • - Institutional factors (macro regime type)
  • Constitutional and parliamentary rules,
  • Party systems.
  • However, personal (elite) characteristics are
    also important
  • Gender
  • Education
  • Age.
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