The Democratic Quality of Institutional Regimes: A Conceptual Framework | Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung

André Kaiser, Matthias Lehnert, Bernhard Miller, Ulrich Sieberer
The Democratic Quality of Institutional Regimes: A Conceptual Framework

Political Studies, 2002: 50, Heft 2, S. 313-331

Lijphart's spectrum of democracies - recently expanded by Jack Nagel to a sub-majoritarian sphere of pluralitarian systems which use disproportional electoral systems in order to manufacture majority governments from minorities in the electorate - is based on only one dimension: inclusion of preferences. Political scientists in the Lijphartian tradition wrongly assume that inclusion of preferences, which is an input characteristic, automatically leads to responsiveness, which refers to actual policy decisions and hence is an Output characteristic. We therefore add 'responsibility' as a second input characteristic and employ it alongside the inclusiveness of institutional regimes. We argue that in representative democracies there exists a trade-off between inclusiveness and responsibility. This trade-off helps LIS to measure the democratic quality of institutional regimes. The now expanded spectrum of democracies based on these two dimensions shows that majoritarian democracy proper - in which governments represent a majority of individual preferences but not more than necessary - is the best possible combination of the two democratic values.