Elections in liberalism: a political economy approach

By • Mar 5th, 2012 • Category: Azterketak eta Azalpenak

Liberal democracy (system) seems increasingly a large mall where each participating (political parties) store has its role. The interesting point is that system has legitimacy, thanks of the rules have been chosen from the majority of the system. These ground rules are unchanged, and provide stability to the game, are protected by the monopoly of violence. For the customer (citizenship) it is important that the stores are open, rather than closed. For the seller, too. In this relationship, the seller (Political leader) is interested in the socialize the opinion that the client is who decides. But of course that really decides this is the seller’s partner (the capitalist partner). He has the decision to put and not put on sale, and ultimately gets the profit, and gives enough money for the continuing of the business.

Political order and its promises

According to Kesselman, “Order is not considered a prerequisite for achieving the highest political good, but itself becomes the highest political good” . Therefore the political order is a symbol of economic stability. The economy works best with a stable political order. In all developed countries the political order is stable. This helps the elites to articulate their interests in an orderly manner. According to Dahl, ‘the existence of many organizations within society, which must have a sufficient margin of relative autonomy, for example, having a range of activities in which they can make decisions without suffering from interference or prohibition by another organization, even if that other organization is the state” . Political constitutions are laws that produce stability in the system, when shared by large majorities and function in years. According to Sartori, constitutions “are ‘pathways’ which should ensure a controlled exercise of power” . Citizen who has to go to the polls every so often, so the system can continue like this. In sum, institutions have a dependency path of each state. The examples of Russia or the perpetuation of the British monarchy in England would be clear examples of dependency path or not is also no coincidence that in Spain under democracy has enormous power the conservative right.

There is a crisis of democracy but in reality, is this correct assumption? If there should be a crisis of legitimacy. But following the formalism, if a minimum of voters taking part in the electoral process or the crisis of legitimacy is arguable. However, if the rules are clear, if the game is respected by the actors, and viewers are comfortable with the entertainers that crisis disappears and stability comes. The crisis for a party or a government becomes when between promises and carried a big difference, and this difference is clearly visible to viewers, when the expectations of the product or given vote are not full filled. However, “It is also possible that over time a party that is seen to change the electoral law too frequently will be discredited as manipulating the rules for its own political gain.”

The representation dilemma: who represents who?

The articulation of the interest of the people has been the task of every democratic government emulated. In all constitutions reflected in some way or another that the representation of citizens will be represented by a party vote. This emulation of direct democracy in conflict with the interest, information and strategic decision making of each ruler. You can make the hypothesis that more and more professional political class is in a class: it has its interests, has its projects and has its objectives of short and long term. The articulation of the interest of the people has been the task of every democratic government emulated. In all constitutions reflected in some way or another that the representation of citizens will be represented by a party vote.

This emulation of direct democracy in conflict with the diverse interests, information, decision making of each ruler. The hypothesis is the following, the more professional political development; the more it has been shaped to his own interest. This class conception gives relative autonomy. Like that this political class develops its projects and it has its objectives in short term logic. According to Weber, “Bureaucratic administration means fundamentally domination through knowledge.” This knowledge fills crucial role of functionality of entire system. For instance, according to Powell, “ probably also accounts for the unusual degree to which education and other socioeconomic resources are directly linked to voting participation in the United States.”

The Seller & The self-interest of the political class

The interest of the political class is to maintain the power thanks of vote in each democracy. Behind this logic, there is implicit stability logic. This logic helps to maintain the legitimacy of the system. The political democratic system works in conjunction with the economic system, and its particular cultural context. In this manner, in each political system the political interest of each political class can differ. The analyses of each political and particular context has to be take in account for achieve accurate analyze of election system.

The Mall and Dahl’s pluralism

In this articulation of interests, the citizenship picks up the role of spectator, and decision maker simply political party of his government. Obviously this works, if you do have sufficient rights to be first citizen of a state. No such immigrants become citizens in many governments and labor are important in the economic and social life. Paradoxically the non citizens are part of electoral agendas, but others decided on their behalf. According the concept of pluralism of Dahl, the projects and its political objectives of the political class are in contingency with other elite’s interest. In democratic societies there are many kinds of interest. It is important to stress that not all are channeled through democratic formulas. But clear majorities in forming constitutions, let space articulator that can be used undemocratic methods in liberal democracy. Much of the activity of Western bureaucracies has nothing to do with democratic decisions. The bureaucrat decides on behalf of the law, that the latter has been developed democratically, but the output may not be democratic.

The importance of the perception of distance, between voters and elected leaders

The distance between the citizen and the political class is evident when major decisions are voted on in parliament, congress, or senate. The citizenship has no direct access to the ballot. You can use the formula to voice opinions out on the street, which does not affect all cases to the policy agenda. In this way the political agenda takes his routinization, autonomy and dynamic, away from the daily to do of the citizens. That is the form that a representative democracy works, but not a deliberative democracy or agonistic democracy . The democratic system is in a representative democracy where the representation is the bearer of the decision and not the citizen. The act of voting is simply the legitimization of the hegemonic system of the system, whether monarchical parliamentary or presidential. The question here is, why should we vote? If you do not really change anything. You vote because maybe it is better perceived the vote that the bullet? It is the threat and distrust of military violence to vote. Vote is a form of legitimating of the system? If so, the next question arises: if when there is no perceived risk to authoritarianism, which has the city reason for voting continues to widen? Will the city government can still influence their welfare. But when goods disappear and public atomized individuals in a market whose value has the vote? In other words, when the losses are socialized and profits are shared among the elite, the function of voting has direct connection of believes. It is a matter of faith, faith in liberal democracy, the independent variable? According to Iversen, “Future research will have to sort out the degree to which the “mix” of directional and spatial effects on voting is “fixed” by education, class belonging, preadult socialization, and even political-cultural traits of societies and the degree to which “conjuncture” factors such as economic business cycles and political instability empower politicians to shape and reshape the way people respond to political information. In short, future research needs to move in the direction of indigenizing voters’ political “preferences” into a more general model of the psychology of voting.”

The Citizenship as a customer

The notion of stability is crucial in a political system for their future. This makes it possible, have choice and to settle one way of doing things, by the consent of citizens. Obtained the approval of the citizen to stay in power, is the primary objective politician. It depends on the maintenance of their jobs; we should never forget that it is a job, well paid, with great privileges in many democratic states. According to Weber, “The charismatic structure of domination rest upon individual authority which is based neither upon rational rules nor upon tradition. Here too we shall proceed form the type that is the most rational and the one most familiar to us: modern bureaucratic administration.” However, the location and the dimension of the “Mall” are crucial for the seller. According to Kenneth, “electoral laws will change when a coalition of parties exists such that each party in the coalition expects to gain more seats under an alternative electoral institution, and that also has sufficient power to affect this alternative through fiat given the rules for changing electoral laws.”

What impact on the political agenda are the expectations of citizens regarding the ruling. These expectations about democracy are articulated, enforced or collected and, through legislation, bills and taxes, and policy changes. But today also expectations about individual welfare, social, and social protection in times of crisis. All this directly affects the perception of the citizenship towards politics. Then directly influence the vote. According to Przeworski, “People do expect that democracy would breed social and economic equality.”

The message is the massage: media as disseminators of massage

Fill, meet, promise those expectations is the main task of the professional politician. Through the speech, the leadership, popular support will make the professional political discourse come to different areas of the country. But to do that you know who already has to meet the needs of non-political elites. Religious elites, cultural, economic, are important in articulating the interest of the people. The citizen is therefore questioned at the time of election as if it were the last decider of policies that are going to run the near future, but nothing else away this reality. Since the political agenda in advance is made and the only thing that makes the citizen is to legitimize the system by voting legitimate. Democracy can be said the players alternate rulers, but the architecture of the theater, or function, rarely change.

The clarity and transparency is not part of the game. So the democratic political system compartment with the media. The mass-media plays an important intermediary role, as decided by pictures, news and information that is important for the political agenda and what is not. So the media is the channel of communication that the political elite has, to spread and reach their promises and citizenship projects to the society.

The customer has three options when faced with what to do in the elections. According to Hirschman, “Exit, Voice or loyalty” . Hirschman examines three methods for addressing an organization’s deterioration:

(1)-Exit-is for the member to quit the organization or for the customer to switch to the competing product (leaving the organization, not buying its products anymore, etc)

(2) Voice-is voice,” (the option of sticking with the organization and protesting in the hopes of improving it) for members or customers to agitate and exert influence for change “from within.”

(3) Loyalty which is really more a property that encourages you to stay with the organization longer (thereby probably delaying exit and giving voice more of a chance). Loyalty is seen in the function of retarding exit and of permitting voice to play its proper role.

The customer thinks he has the last word. However the paradox is that democracy through the holding of elections is legitimate. If political parties are for valid results, the system continues and tends to create balance. This balance helps to markets and investors have confidence in the system and this in turn, settles the democratic system. The economics and politics are two heads of the same creature. It is important to consider these concept areas as they are not watertight, but are in interrelation. Capture the interaction of these two areas the biggest challenge to understand today’s Western democracies. From my point of view is not argued enough from the political sciences, which are the effects in the economics of politics and vice versa. This dichotomous and asymmetrical relationship between the capitalist system and liberal democracy, gives clues to better understand what democracy in today’s society is. This conception is far from the ideals that have citizenship. Democracy as a field of individuals and collective freedoms. Democracy as a social welfare site. Democracy as a one person, one vote system. Liberal democracy together with the capitalist system creates an architecture that has not yet been investigated sufficiently.


My main argument in this paper has been to argue that the realization of the elections, the replay and acceptance thereof, if all parties agree provides stability to the system. This stability and confidence bring plenty of freedom to the big players perform in terms economic growth and benefit day by day. The logical to get out, raise your voice or just maintain the loyalty explanations very well the different options that each individual or group in front of the system. Not going to buy, complain to the seller or options would be true of every individual. The problem comes when the individual goes to the store and decides to put his alternative. If there are many who do not believe in the system and believe in a way beyond selling and buying. The citizen becomes a problematic for the system. This competition of different interests fighting dynamically, tell us that we probably are not in front of the end of history, but surely in front of new social revolutions, where violence’s problem comes into the equation.

Dahl, Robert A. Comparative Politics, Pluralism Revisited Vol. 10, No. 2 (Jan., 1978), pp. 191-203. Published by: Ph.D. Program in Political Science of the City University of New York
Elster, John. Deliberative Democracy. Cambridge University Press, 1998
Hirschman, Albert O. Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States. Harvard University Press, 1970
Kenneth, Benoit. Models of electoral system change, Electoral Studies 23, p. 363.
Kesselman, M.Order or Movement?: The Literature of Political Development as Ideology: World Politics, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Oct., 1973), pp. 142. Cambridge University Press.
Mouffe, Chantal. Radical Democracy: Modern or Postmodern? in Social Text, No. 21, Universal Abandon? The Politics of Postmodernism, pp. 31-45. Duke University Press,1989
Przeworski, Adam. 2006. “Self-enforcing Democracy.” In Donald Wittman and Barry Weingast (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Political Economy. New York: Oxford University Press.
Torben Iversen, Political Leadership and Representation in West European Democracies: A Test of Three Models of Voting
Weber, Max, Domination and Legitimacy, Chap. 10, in Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, volume 2 (edited by Guenther Roth & Claus Wittich)

[Eragilea & ahal dudanean,) pentsalaria]
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