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Systematizing Democratic Systems Approaches

Seven Conceptual Building Blocks

Rikki Dean, Jonathan Rinne, and Brigitte Geissel

The notion that democracy is a system is ever present in democratic theory. However, what it means to think systemically about democracy (as opposed to what it means for a political system to be democratic) is under-elaborated. This article sets out a meta-level framework for thinking systemically about democracy, built upon seven conceptual building blocks, which we term (1) functions, (2) norms, (3) practices, (4) actors, (5) arenas, (6) levels, and (7) interactions. This enables us to systematically structure the debate on democratic systems, highlighting the commonalities and differences between systems approaches, their omissions, and the key questions that remain to be answered. It also enables us to push the debate forward both by demonstrating how a full consideration of all seven building blocks would address issues with existing approaches and by introducing new conceptual clarifications within those building blocks.

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Colonising ‘Free’ Will

A Critique of Political Decolonisation in Ghana

Bernard Forjwuor

1996 )) but also, and more importantly, defines the process through which such limited reach of sovereign laws must be legitimately performed – which is through an adopted Western parliamentary democratic system. This is partially the reason why Kwame

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Olga Kharus and Vyacheslav Shevtsov

the Russian monarchy in February 1917 presented a real opportunity for the creation of a democratic system of local government in Siberia. After the February Revolution, the Tomsk Provincial People’s Assembly adopted a resolution in May 1917, “On Local

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The Deliberative Potential of Facultative Referendums

Procedure and Substance in Direct Democracy

Alice el-Wakil

chances that they will be undermined in the long term in the “dynamic processes” of democracy ( Anderson 2009: 222 ). Despite its primary focus on the deliberative potential of one direct democratic institution rather than on its impact on the democratic

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Demetrio Cojtí Cuxil

The history of Guatemala is dominated by authoritarian and conservative governments. It is said that the country is presently transitioning toward democracy, yet the government, as well as the democratic system itself, continues to be structurally colonialist and racist. Guatemala's leaders have not realized the implications for the government and for civil society of the constitutional and political recognition of the country as multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multicultural. Further-more, Guatemalan political elites ask and expect that individual and collective members of society be multi-ethnic and multi-lingual, even when the government and its organs are not. The necessary transition, public as well as private, from mono-nationalism to multi-nationalism can be achieved, but it would be more efficient and consistent if the government would take heed of civil society.

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Andrea Felicetti

This article analyzes contemporary democracies from a deliberative democratic standpoint and focuses on the connection between public and empowered spaces. The idea of deliberative systems and the concept of “transmission” are introduced to discuss the ways in which the public is able to affect the empowered spaces. While elections perform important democratic functions, alone they cannot provide a good quality means for connecting deliberation in the public to that of actors in the empowered space. The problem with transmission is exacerbated to the extent that alternative forms of participation are neglected. The limited ability of the public to affect the empowered space in deliberative and democratic ways contributes to the crisis of democratic systems. One solution to this problem is to acknowledge the role of citizens' deliberation. The article argues for the systematic introduction of spaces for citizens' deliberation that would parallel existing decision-making.

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Assaf Meydani

In recent decades, the role that national supreme courts have played in shaping and determining institutional change has been studied from a number of angles. However, this vast literature has not produced a dynamic model that is capable of illuminating the impact of supreme courts on national policy or institutional change. This article proposes such a dynamic model using perspectives based on the 'shared mental model' and the concept of 'political entrepreneurship'. Adapting hypotheses from the neo-institutionalism literature, it develops a procedural model for analyzing how political rules are changed formally in a democratic system. The analysis also explores the political entrepreneur role that supreme courts play in developing institutional change and addressing social problems. This model is then used to study the Supreme Court in Israel.

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Gerard Braunthal

Much has been written about German right-extremist groups, regardless of whether they are neo-Nazi political parties or skinheads, but little has been published about their recruitment of new members and sympathizers. As is true of any group, the rightist movement needs constantly TO replenish its ranks in order not to shrink. Thus, they seek recruits in the high school and university student populations. In the latter, they have wooed members of conservative fraternities especially. Moreover, they have sought to win over recruits and officer trainees in the German armed forces. This article assesses their degree of success and raises the questions whether the recruitment by rightist groups differs from democratic groups and whether the rightist groups pose a threat to the existing democratic system.

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Jean-Paul Gagnon

political and liberal democracy and worker's rights. The first trap for leftist parties is drifting to the right. The second is making promises to electors that the democratic system in play cannot meet. Panayotakis reveals how both traps are vote

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Zilka Spahić Šiljak

life and politics. 1 A comparison of the 1980s to the 1990s, when the democratic system was established, shows a reversal of the aforementioned progress, as evidenced by the fact that in 1986, women made up 24.1 percent of the Bosnian Parliament