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TitleWhat are elections for? conferring the median mandate
Author(s)McDonald, Michael D.
Mendes, Silvia M.
Budge, Ian
KeywordsTeoria democrática
Operação democrática
Teoria do mandato mediano
Mandate theory
Issue date2004
PublisherCambridge University Press
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Citation"British Journal of Political Science". ISSN 0007-1234. 34:1 (2004).
Abstract(s)Conventional mandate theory, sometimes termed majoritarian democracy, sees popular preferences being translated into public policy through voters choosing as their government the party whose policies a majority prefers. Crucially, this assumes that elections do decide which party forms the government. In fact this seldom happens. If elections do not unambiguously designate governments, what do they do? One reaction, common to both classic representational theory and modern ‘visions’ of ‘consociational’ or ‘consensus’ democracy, is to limit their role to endorsing representatives.1 These then negotiate compromises on behalf of their constituents in a more considered way than election campaigning would allow.2 Acknowledging that there is a restricted role for elections and hence for voters in the democratic process is certainly one possible reaction to the failure of elections to designate governments unambiguously. It may even have an upside, in terms of the better policy solutions that can be reached through autonomous discussion and bargaining between parties.3 But it is not very democratic. Our purpose here is to show that, even in PR systems with many parties, elections do confer a popular mandate that shapes legislative decision-making. This improves the democratic credentials of consensus democracy while respecting the elite bargaining processes that reportedly produce better policy. It also gets us away from incommensurable ‘visions’ of democracy, such as the majoritarian and consensus versions cited above. Instead, it replaces them with a unified standard by which democracy should and, as we show, broadly does operate.
AccessOpen access
Appears in Collections:NEAPP - Publicações em Revistas Internacionais

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