• Democracy implies that the ultimate authority of government is vested in the ordinary people so that public policy is made to conform to the will of the people and to serve the interests of the people.

Distinction Between Procedural and Substantive Democracy

  • In procedural form, democracy is regarded as a procedure designed to obtain consent of the people for public decisions. It is hoped that these decisions will be automatically in the public welfare. Champions of liberal/procedural democracy would never compromise the procedure for any other gain and thus this model is known as the procedural democracy.
  • On the other hand, some argue that people’s welfare should take precedence over the procedure. So some critics call for the necessary adjustment in procedures and institutions of liberal democracy to make it a substantive democracy.
  • Procedural democracy is about civil rights and substantive democracy is regarding socioeconomic rights. Liberal democracy primarily seeks to protect the individual from arbitrary acts of government, safeguards personal freedom, freedom of association. free speech, fair trial etc. Social democracy is about elaborate arrangements for employment, education, housing etc.

Theories of Democracy

Elitist Theory of Democracy


  • Elite refers to a minority in whose hands power, wealth or privilege is concentrated. Elitism is a belief in, or practice of, rule by an elite or minority. Normative elitism suggests that political power should be vested in the hands of a wise or enlightened minority elitism claims to be empirical (although normative beliefs often intrude), and sees elite rule as an unchangeable fact of social existence.
  • Classical elitists, such as Vilfredo Pareto , Gaetano Mosca and Robert Michels , tended to take the position that democracy was no more than a foolish delusion, because political power is always exercised by a privileged minority i.e.elite.
  • Broadly speaking, the elitist theories hold that every society consists two categories of men:
    1. the elite or the minority which exercises a preponderant influence
    2. the masses or the majority which is governed by the elite.
  • Vilfredo Pareto was the first to use the term ‘elite’ and ‘masses’ to indicate superior and inferior groups in society .Pareto suggested that the qualities needed to rule conform to one of two psychological types: ‘foxes’ (who rule by cunning and are able to manipulate the consent of the masses), and ‘lions’ (whose domination is typically achieved through coercion and violence).
  • Mosca postulated that the people are necessarily divided into two groups: the rulers and the ruled. The ruling class controls most of the wealth, power and prestige in society and exercises all power, whatever form of government might be adopted. The ruled are not competent to replace it.
  • Michel propounded his famous ‘iron law of oligarchy’ which implied that every organization—whatever its original aims—is eventually reduced to an ‘oligrachy’, that is the rule of the chosen few, based on their manipulative skills. Michel’s developed an alternative line of argument based on the tendency within all organizations, however democratic they might appear, for power to be concentrated in the hands of a small group of dominant figures who can organize and make decisions.
  • Whereas classical elitists strove to prove that democracy was always a myth, modern elitist theorists have tended to highlight how far particular political systems fall short of the democratic ideal. An example of this can be found in C. Wright Mills’ influential account of the power structure in the USA. In contrast to the pluralist notion of a wide and broadly democratic dispersal of power, Mills, in The Power Elite (1956), offered a portrait of a USA dominated by a nexus of leading groups. In his view, this ‘power elite’ comprised a triumvirate of big business (particularly defence related industries), the US military and political cliques surrounding the President. Drawing on a combination of economic power, bureaucratic control, and access to the highest levels of the executive branch of government, the power elite is able to shape key ‘history-making’ decisions, especially in the fields of defence and foreign policy, as well as strategic economic policy. The power-elite model suggests that liberal democracy in the USA is largely a sham.
  • The elite theory had empirically demonstrated that democracy as the government of the people is incapable of realization. The champions of democracy found it difficult to repudiate the arguments advanced by the elitist theories. They, therefore, sought to accommodate the elite theory in the framework of democratic theory which led to its revision. The elitist democratic theory or ‘democratic elitism’ was developed by several writers. Whereas the power elite model portrays the elite as a cohesive body, bound together by common or overlapping interests, competitive elitism (sometimes called ‘democratic elitism’) highlights the significance of elite rivalry.
  • Karl Mannheim argued that society does not cease to be democratic by entrusting the actual shaping of policy to the elites. The people cannot directly participate in government, but they can make their aspirations felt at certain intervals, and this is sufficient for democracy; ‘In a democracy the governed can always act to remove their leaders or force them to take decisions in the interests of the many.’
  • Joseph Schumpeter’s ‘realistic’ model of democracy outlined in Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy ,pointed out that the forms of government should be distinguished by their institutions, and especially by their methods of appointing and dismissing the supreme makers of law and policy. Accordingly, the ‘democratic method is that institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for the people’s votes’.
  • This implies that:
    • in a democracy, political decisions are taken by the ‘leadership’, not by the people themselves; and
    • there is a free competition among the leaders for winning people’s votes.
  • The redeeming feature of democracy is that, unlike other forms of government, it does not allow political leadership to wield absolute power.
  • The electorate can decide which elite rules, but cannot change the fact that power is always exercised by an elite. This model of competitive elitism was developed by Anthony Downs into the ‘economic theory of democracy’. In effect, electoral competition creates a political market in which politicians act as entrepreneurs bent upon achieving government power, and individual voters behave like consumers, voting for the party with the policies that most closely reflect their own preferences. Downs argued that a system of open and competitive elections guarantees democratic rule because it places government in the hands of the party whose philosophy, values, and policies correspond most closely to the preferences of the largest group of voters. As Schumpeter put it, ‘democracy is the rule of the politician’. As a model of democratic politics, competitive elitism at least has the virtue that it corresponds closely to the workings of the liberal-democratic political system.
  • Raymond Aron advanced another version of the democratic theory which combines it with the elite theory Liberal democracy, according to Aron, is characterized by a general system of checks and balances and plurality of elites. He points out that the Soviet type society is distinguished by a unified elite belonging to the Communist Party while the Western type society, that is liberal democracy, is characterized by a divided elite, which makes it a pluralistic society.
  • Giovanni Sartori developed his views on democracy which are similar to those of Schumpeter in all essentials. Like Schumpeter, he regards democracy as a procedure in which leaders compete at elections for authority to govern. Sartori argues that the role of the elite does not suggest any imperfection of democracy. On the other hand, it is the core of the democratic system. For Sartori, any notion of self-governing people is a delusion.

Pluralist Theory of Democracy

  • In liberal theory, the state is thus a neutral arbiter among competing groups and individuals in society; it is an ‘umpire’ or ‘referee’, capable of protecting each citizen from the encroachment of his or her fellow citizens.
  • This basic theory has been elaborated by modern writers into a pluralist theory of the state. Pluralism is, at heart, the theory that political power is dispersed amongst a wide variety of social groups rather than an elite or ruling class. It is related to what Robert Dahl termed ‘polyarchy’, rule by the many.
  • Robert Dahl developed a model of the democratic process which he described as polyarchy. He contrasted modern democratic systems with the classical democracy of Ancient Greece, using the term ‘polyarchy’ to refer to rule by the many, as distinct from rule by all citizens. His empirical studies led him to conclude that the system of competitive elections prevents any permanent elite from emerging and ensures wide, if imperfect, access to the political process.
  • The term ‘polyarchy’ is sometimes preferred to ‘liberal democracy’ for two reasons.
    • First, liberal democracy is commonly treated as a political ideal, and is thus invested with broader normative implications.
    • Second, the use of ‘polyarchy’ acknowledges that these regimes fall short, in important ways, of the goal of democracy.
  • Polyarchic liberal democratic regimes are distinguished by the combination of two general features.
    • In the first place, there is a relatively high tolerance of opposition that is sufficient at least to check the arbitrary inclinations of government. This is guaranteed in practice by a competitive party system, by institutionally guaranteed and protected civil liberties, and by a vigorous and healthy civil society.
    • The second feature of liberal democracy is that the opportunities for participating in politics should be sufficiently widespread to guarantee a reliable level of popular responsiveness. The crucial factor here is the existence of regular and competitive elections operating as a device through which the people can control and, if necessary, displace their rulers.
  • Although distinct from the classical conception of democracy as popular self government, this nevertheless accepts that democratic processes are at work within the modern state: electoral choice ensures that government must respond to public opinion, and organized interests offer all citizens a voice in political life. Above all, pluralists believe that a rough equality exists among organized groups and interests, in that each enjoys some measure of access to government and that government is prepared to listen impartially to all. Nonelected state bodies like the civil service, judiciary, police, army, and so on, carry out their responsibilities with strict impartiality, and are in any case subordinate to their elected political masters.
  • An alternative, neo-pluralist theory of the state has been developed by writers such as J. K. Galbraith and Charles Lindblom . In their view, the modern industrialized state is both more complex and less responsive to popular pressures than the classic pluralist model suggests. While not dispensing altogether with the notion of the state as an umpire acting in the public interest or common good, they insist that this picture needs qualifying. It is commonly argued by neo-pluralists, for instance, that it is impossible to portray all organized interests as equally powerful since in a capitalist economy business enjoys advantages which other groups clearly cannot rival. In The Affluent Society ,Galbraith emphasized the ability of business to shape public tastes and wants through the power of advertising, and drew attention to the domination of major corporations over small firms and, in some cases, government bodies. Lindblom, in Politics and Markets , pointed out that, as the major investor and largest employer in society, business is bound to exercise considerable sway over any government, whatever its ideological leanings or manifesto promises.Thus ,according to neopluralists, Polyarchy is Deformed in the USA. It is titled in favour of the corporate class as they exert more pressure on the decisions of the government. This analysis comes closer to the Marxist analysis.
  • Neo-neo pluralist Eric Nordlinger says that it is the State that monopolises all the power.This analysis is relevant with respect to the third world countries where state is the most prominent actor.
  • A.F. Bentley and David Truman interpreted democracy as a political game played by a great variety of groups.

Macpherson’s Concept of Democracy

  • C.B. Macpherson , a contemporary exponent of the radical theory of democracy, has sought to broaden the scope of democracy and to redefine its essential conditions in view of our recent experiences. In his earlier monograph, The Real World of Democracy (1966), Macpherson argued that the liberal societies which grant universal suffrage, a choice between political parties, and civil liberties, have no exclusive claim to the title of democracy.
  • Democracy is a wider phenomenon. Macpherson identifies three variants of democracy which are equally valid if they fulfil certain conditions.
    • The first variant is, of course, liberal democracy which needs a more humane touch.
    • Secondly, Communist countries might qualify as democracies if they granted full intra-party democracy and opened up their closed bureaucratic systems.
    • Finally, Third World countries, which have no experience of Western individualism, could also conform to the ideals of some historical theories of democracy as far as their governments are legitimized by mass enthusiasm.
  • Thus, in Macpherson’s view different types of systems which undertake to fulfil the aspirations of the masses, enjoy support of the masses and provide for an opportunity for the amelioration of the condition of the masses, qualify as democracies irrespective of the structures and procedures adopted by them for serving these purposes.
  • Macpherson has attacked the elitist-pluralist theory of democracy as espoused by Joseph Schumpeter and Robert Dahl as well as the utilitarian theory expounded by Jeremy Bentham He has pointed out that the traditional or classical theory of democracy was erected on a moral foundation. It saw democracy as a developmental process, as a matter of emancipation of humanity. The elitist-pluralist theory, or the empirical theory, on the other hand, treats democracy as a mechanism whose essential function is to maintain equilibrium. Under this theory “democracy is reduced from a humanist aspiration to a market equilibrium system.
  • In contrast, Macpherson has developed a new theory of democracy based on a humanist vision; it will emancipate human beings from the constraints of the prevailing competitive social order of the capitalist world and usher in a new society which will promote ‘creative freedom’. In order to explicate this theory Macpherson draws a distinction between two types of power:
    • developmental power, and
    • extractive power.
  • Developmental power signifies man’s ability to use his own capacities creatively, for the fulfilment of his self-appointed goals. Extractive power, on the other hand, stands for power over others—man’s ability to use other men’s capacities to extract benefits for himself.
  • Macpherson concedes that the existing liberal democracies have conserved civil and political liberties more effectively than the existing socialist regimes. However, he advocates to combine a system of socialist ownership with the institutions of liberal democracy in order to prevent the use of extractive power and to promote developmental powers of all human beings. He recommends the expansion of welfare-state functions to facilitate allocation of goods and services to the people on grounds of need rather than desert determined by the rules of the capitalist economy. Thus he seeks to evolve a system in which the advantages of capitalist and socialist societies shall be combined—a difficult proposition indeed! As Norman Barry has observed: “The difficulty with Macpherson’s argument is that he evaluates existing liberal democracy by reference to some ‘ideal version’ of democracy, rather than by comparing it directly to existing alternatives.”

Whether liberalism has monopoly over democracy

Views of MacIver

  • Democracy is an old concept; liberalism is a recent one. Today, liberalism is generally thought to be inseparable from democracy so much so that the term ‘democracy’ is applied to denote ‘liberal democracy’ unless otherwise specified. However as C.B.Macpherson in his Democratic Theory—Essays in Retrieval has observed: “Until the nineteenth century liberal theory, like the liberal state, was not at all democratic, much of it was specifically antidemocratic.”
  • Classical liberalism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries insisted on property qualification for the right to vote. This was contrary to the democratic principle which implies equal entitlement of each individual not only in the matter of choosing a government but also to the other advantages accruing from organized social life.
  • But a combination of the two antithetical principles—liberalism and democracy became inevitable in a later phase because of historical reasons. Liberal state was forced to accommodate democratic principles in order to save its own existence. The outcome of this emerged in the form of liberal democracy. It represents a combination of free market economy with universal adult franchise. It is an attempt to resolve the conflicting claims of the capitalists and the masses by making gradual concessions under the garb of a welfare state.
  • Broadly speaking, principles of liberal democracy include:
    1. Government by consent;
    2. Public accountability;
    3. Majority rule;
    4. Recognition of minority rights; and
    5. Constitutional Government.

Models of democracy

Deliberative Democracy

  • The idea behind deliberative democracy is that laws and policies are legitimate to the extent that they are publicly justified to the citizens of the community.
  • The whole point of deliberation, political or otherwise, is usually to make our decision processes more ‘reflective’: to help us choose a course of action, after due consideration, rather than merely picking some course of action after hardly a moment’s thought, with scant regard to evidence or argument.
  • According to Rawls, deliberative democracy requires citizens actually, not just hypothetically, to exchange views and debate their supporting reasons concerning public political questions. They suppose that their political opinions may be revised by discussion with other citizens; and therefore these opinions are not simply a fixed outcome of their existing private or political interests. It is at this point that public reason is crucial. It insists upon political institutions that guarantee participation in all deliberative and decisional processes in a way that provides each person with equal chances to exercise the communicative freedom to take a position on critical validity. Both Habermas and later Rawls, and a group of deliberative democrats with them, regard it as democratically crucial for citizens to engage in actual rather than merely hypothetical discourse.
  • The argument for the deliberative concept of democracy, thus, emerges from a claim about the political equality of citizens as grounded on their equal moral status as autonomous individuals capable of giving and exchanging reasons. On the basis of these arguments, ‘an idealized procedure of political deliberation, constructed to capture the notions of free, equal and reason that figure in the deliberative ideal’ can be constructed. This ideal procedure has been summarized as follows (Joshua Cohen):
    • All citizens acknowledge the freedom of each citizen to participate.
    • Citizens are formally equal, in that each has the same rights to propose issues and solutions, to offer reasons for or against proposals, and to have an equal voice in deciding the outcome.
    • Citizens are substantially equal, in that each has an equal opportunity to exercise their rights of participation.
    • Citizens are reasonable ‘in that they aim to defend and criticize institutions and programs in terms of considerations that others, as free and equal, have reason to accept, given the fact of reasonable pluralism and on the assumption that those others are themselves concerned to provide suitable justifications.’
  • Besides these this model also invokes the standard of reasonableness, namely, that citizens acknowledge the fact of reasonable pluralism and seek to offer reasons that other reasonable citizens could not reasonably reject. As such deliberative model is more demanding than the interest-aggregation model since it requires that citizens exercise a form of democratic self restraint, namely, that they reflect as citizens and not in terms of their private interest.

Habermas on Deliberative Democracy:

  • Jurgen Habermas, while writing about deliberative democracy in Three Normative Models of Democracy, situates it between liberal and communitarian models of democracy Habermas takes the proceduralism from liberalism. Habermas also calls for ‘an ideal speech situation’, that is, a situation where free and equal participants are able to communicate with each other without discrepancies of power and constraints of particular circumstances. There is an inherent danger of preferring certain dominant forms of communication and knowledge as more authoritative. Moreover, deliberative democrats hope for a consensus which is difficult if not impossible to achieve in diverse and complex societies.
  • This hence creates procedural-deliberative model of democracy. Practical reason, he claims, resides neither in the individual, nor in a community but in rules inherent in the ‘the very structure of communicative actions.’ According to Habermas, popular sovereignty resides neither in a majority, nor in collective citizenry, but in ‘the subject less forms of communication that regulate the law of deliberations.’ This model, thus, presents a threetier configuration stated as follows:
    • Firstly, the base of deliberative democracy is based on pluralistic civil society.
    • Second tier is public sphere which Habermas describes as a linguistically constituted public space of informal opinion formation.
    • Third tier refers to the formal, governmental, decision-making institution.
  • Thomas Christiano believes that the basic principle behind most conceptions of deliberative democracy seems to be the principle of reasonableness, according to which reasonable persons will only offer principles for the regulation of their society that other reasonable persons can reasonably accept.
  • It has been found that deliberative democracy tends to produce outcomes which are superior to those in other forms of democracy. Deliberative democracy produces less partisanship and more sympathy with opposing views; more respect for evidence-based reasoning rather than opinion; a greater commitment to the decisions taken by those involved; and a greater chance for widely shared consensus to emerge, thus, promoting social cohesion between people from different backgrounds.

Representative Democracy

  • Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy. It is a system of government based on the election of decision-makers by the people.
  • Representative democracy came into particular general favour in post-industrial revolution nation states where large numbers of subjects or (latterly) citizens evinced interest in politics, but where technology and population figures remained unsuited to direct democracy.
  • In representative democracy people, thus, selects their representatives to form government and this is generally conducted by the system of election held at a regular interval (of fixed period or sometimes before completion of that period) which is, usually, conducted on the basis of universal adult franchise. The provision of election in a representative democracy is intended to ensure that the government will exercise its powers with the consent of the governed.
  • But what kind of power these representatives are entitled to is a matter of debate. Various theories has been formulated in this regard some of which are as follows:
    • Conservative theory of representation: Peoples here, rely on the good virtue of the politicians, who, if fails to fulfil the requirement of the people, can be replaced by another person from same elite group in next election. The chief exponents of this view are Edmund Burke and James Madison.
    • Liberal theory of representation: This theory is based on the principle of equality of all people. The supporters of this theory grant supreme power to the people and treat representatives only as their agents or messenger. The chief exponents of this theory are John Locke and Thomas Jefferson.
    • Radical theory of representation: This theory believes in the wisdom of the people in highest esteem and exalts direct democracy as the only truly democratic form of government. The chief exponents of this theory are Rousseau and The New Left.

John Locke on Representative Democracy

  • John Locke can be said as the most influential theorist on democracy .Though Locke believed in majority rule, he thought that it best that they do not rule themselves directly.
  • He saw members of Parliament as representatives of their constituents, and he believed that they should vote as their constituents wanted.

Partcipatory Democracy

  • Participatory democracy is a process emphasizing the broad participation of constituents in the direction and operation of political systems. It strives to create opportunities for all members of a political group to make meaningful contributions to decision-making and seeks to broaden the range of people who have access to such opportunities. It requires more involved participation by citizen.
  • Increasing population and complexities of governance leaves no chance to think about direct democracy. But in Athenian city-state of ancient Greece, direct participatory democracy was practised while performing all tasks of governance, that is, in enacting, implementing and adjusting laws. The best part of this system was high level of political accountability and political activity of the citizen.
  • Participation in the collective affairs of the community was considered important for the rational self-development of the citizens; it was the highest form of good life they could hope to achieve, fulfil themselves, and live honourably. However, the successful operation of the Athenian democracy depended on a system of exclusivity and inequality where only citizens—of which women, women, slaves and resident aliens were not part—enjoyed these rights.
  • In the eighteenth century, its influence can be seen in the writings of Rousseau. He criticized the emerging electoral and representative democracy in European states. For him, democracy was the way by which citizens could achieve freedom. For Rousseau, participation was essential for the self-development of the individual and democracy was a means of individual development, but not the pursuit of selfish interests. Rousseau asserted that sovereignty not only originates in the people, it is also retained by the people in spite of their transition from the state of nature to civil society. Sovereignty cannot be represented, because it cannot be alienated. The people’s deputies are not, and could not be, their representatives.
  • Elitist theory of democracy implies that citizen participation is not a necessary condition of democracy. Thus for Schumpeter, running of government and framing of public policies is the task of professional politicians; the role of ordinary citizens is confined to vote for the politicians, the political parties and the programmes of their choice at the time of periodic elections. In other words, modern democracy is primarily the rule of politicians in which ordinary citizens play a very limited role, at regular intervals. Robert Dahl’s pluralist theory of democracy also reconciles with a low level of citizen participation. C.B. Macpherson (Democratic Theory— Essays in Retrieval) has observed that Schumpeter-Dahl axis treats democracy as a mechanism designed to maintain an equilibrium. It conceives of democracy as a competition between two or more elite groups for the power to govern the whole society, requiring only a low level of citizen participation. In Macpherson’s view, it is a distorted view where democracy is reduced from a humanist aspiration to a market equilibrium system.
  • In modern large-scale states, the objectives of participatory democracy are sought to be achieved through:
    • Decentralization of administration in which many decisions are left to local communities, as in the case of expansion of panchayati raj in India; and
    • Extensive use of referendum, as in Switzerland . Under this procedure, people’s vote is sought on any new law, constitution or constitutional amendment. In Australia, referendum is compulsory on any constitutional amendment. It is a method of combining some features of direct democracy with representative democracy.
  • In contemporary political theory, citizen participation is sought to be justified mainly on three grounds:
    • Instrumental view asserts that citizen participation is aimed at promoting or defending the interests of the participant. Before entering in participation, persons calculate the anticipated benefits and costs, and the prospects of attaining their objectives;
    • Developmental or educational view of participation holds that it enhances the participants’ general moral, social and political awareness; and finally,
    • Communitarian view of participation justifies it on the ground that it contributes to the common good.
  • In modern period, the idea of participatory democracy is manifest in the works of Poulantzas, Pateman and Macpherson. Poulantzas recommended ‘socialist pluralism’ by which he meant democratizing the state, that is making parliament, state bureaucracies and political parties more accountable and simultaneously incorporating new forms of struggle at the local level—the women’s groups, ecological groups and factory-based politics. He prescribed these in view of the mammoth state both in size and power and also by way of realizing that self-management or institutions of direct democracy cannot replace the state.
  • Pateman observes that idea of free and equal individual that the liberal democratic theory espouses hardly exists. For it was hindered by the inequalities of class, sex and race. According to her, the inconsistency between universal formal rights and class inequality in participation can be resolved only through institutions that encourage self-management.
  • Macpherson, Macpherson argues that a truly democratic society promotes powers of social cooperation and creativity rather than maximize aggregate satisfactions. He argues for transformation based upon a system combining competitive parties and institutions of direct democracy. The necessary condition is to create equality in society but here it means political equality, that is, equal say in decision-making process.
  • The theory of how participation, no doubt, promotes popular control and is self-promoting, still then characteristic of theories of participatory democracy is vulnerable to several weaknesses. This theory fail to transcend a number of fundamental problems about representation and leadership, the basis of participation, and the types of ends sought. The supporters of this theory like Rousseau argues that direct democracy is possible and desirable in modern societies, despite the dense web of complex organizations that comprise them. As a result, his model fails to address the powerful arguments of elite theorists such as Robert Michels, who argues that sociological, psychological and technical imperatives of organization make oligarchy inevitable. Although they acknowledge the reality of social pluralism and organizational hierarchy, they simply fail to answer satisfactorily critical questions about how complex organization could be made to conform to his form of direct democracy. By avoiding this, they fail to distinguish individual participation from organizational processes.

Comparing Participative and deliberative democracy

  • “Democracy is the way to give people the greatest illusion of power , while allowing them the smallest amount in reality”- Bagehot
  • The concept of deliberative democracy is based on the active participation of people in the formulation of laws. The point is that decision making process has to be more reflective to choose the best course of action . The prominent theorists of deliberative democracy include Seyla Benhabib , John Dryzek, James Fishkin and Jurgen Habermas.
  • According to Benhabib, deliberative democracy is a necessary condition for attaining legitimacy and rationality with respect to collective decision making process. According to Dryzek , deliberative democracy is a shift away from aggregative , vote centric model, giving pride of place to reason and engagements. According to Joshua Cohen, deliberative democracy is based on the concept of political equality and equal moral status of citizens . Habermas , in his work “Normative Models of Democracy”, talks about ideal speech situation , where free and equal persons communicating with each other , without discrepancies of power . Fishkin believes that deliberative democracy tends to produce outcomes better than any other model .
  • Participatory democracy emphasise on the broad participation of the constituents in the operation of political system by creating opportunities to broaden the range of people having access to the system . Participative democracy ensures high level of political accountability , scope for rational development of the citizens and thus good life . Hannah
  • Arendt supports political participation as the human condition . Carole Pateman believes that at present the liberal democracies do not give equal opportunity to all in participation . Macpherson argues that truly democratic society promotes participation and equal rights to self development.
  • Often , the two terms participatory and deliberative democracy are used interchangeably and create confusions. It is true that there is a huge overlap but there are significant differences too. According to Pateman, participatory democracy has a long history in the west , specifically since 1960s when civil rights , women movements led people to go the streets demanding greater participation in decision making . Some recent examples include Arab Spring and the Yellow Vest movement in France . According to Joshua Cohen, deliberative democracy also has a long history , but gained traction since 1980s to protect democracy from becoming tyranny of majority . The main similarity is , both offer a critique of representative democracy and encourage citizen’s participation .
  • Advocates of participatory democracy focus on the quantity i.e. the number of participants, ideally everyone. But deliberative democracy focus on the depth of participation , they prefer deep deliberation and hence want to involve relatively smaller number. Participatory democrats want participation in all aspects of all those who are going to be affected .Scholars of deliberative democracy want informed participation. Participatory democracy is about public opinion , whereas deliberative democracy is about public judgments .
  • According to Carson , we should be seeking a combination of the two with the focus on mini – public deliberation , where deliberative bodies consider the results of participatory process and mitigate the worst excesses of it . Though , there are many challenges in combining them .

Relationship between democracy and development

  • The democracy and development debate emerged in context of the model of development to be adopted by the developing countries. It is often claimed that nondemocratic systems are better at bringing about economic development . This belief is known as Lee Hypothesis due to its chief advocate Lee Kuan Yew, the leader and the former president of Singapore. According to him , the ultimate test of the political system is whether it improves the standard of living for majority of people or not .
  • According to him disciplinarian states like South Korea, Singapore and China had faster rates of economic growth than many democratic states . According to Lee Kuan Yew , democracy leads into populist policies , lack of discipline and anarchy. In Context of India , he held that Indian bureaucracy does not have the right attitude .
  • However, Amartya Sen , in his essay “Democracy As A Universal Value” published in Journal of Democracy , 1999, believe that the Lee Hypothesis is based in sporadic empiricism , based on very selected and limited information rather than any general statistical testing over wide ranging data .
  • A general relation of this sort cannot be established on the basis of selective data. We cannot really take the high economic growth of Singapore of China as a definitive proof that authoritarianism does better in economic growth , just like we cannot draw the opposite conclusion from the fact that Botswana , with finest records of economic growth in the world is an oasis of democracy . We need more systematic empirical studies to sort out the claims and counter claims .
  • Systematic empirical studies done by Robert Barro and Adam Przeworski give no real support to a claim that there is a general conflict between civil political rights and economic performance . Suppression of civil political rights lead to really beneficial economic development does not have any convincing evidence . There is no clear relationship between economic growth and democracy . The economic growth in East Asia is due to openness to competition , state’s intervention to promote investment , high level of literacy and successful land reforms .
  • None of these of policies are inconsistencies with greater democracies, Faster economic growth requires friendlier economic climate rather than harsher political system . We must go beyond the confines of economic growth , focus on demands of economic development . Political and civil rights give opportunity to the people to draw government’s attention to the general needs and demands appropriate public action .
  • Government’s responses often depends upon public pressure . There has been no substantial famine in democratic country with relatively free press. There is no exception to this rule , no where , no matter where we look. Any democratic government facing election cannot ignore the criticism from opposition parties . There is a positive role of democracy in prevention of disasters . This is called as the instrumental role of democracy. The protective power of democracy should not be ignored. Democracy is not just a majority rule , it is a demanding system and not just a mechanical condition. There are three ways in which democracy enrich the life of citizens:
    1. Intrinsic value – Exercise of rights, give a sense of well being
    2. Instrumental Value – Compelling government to pay attention
    3. Educative Value – Citizens learn from one another and determine the priorities .
  • Thus , political rights are pivotal in inducing social responses, central to the conceptualization of economic needs.

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