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Giovanni Sartori on Democracy - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 148
Democracy/minimalist liberalism/Sartori/Dryzek: The model of democracy most popular among comparative politics scholars, especially those in the burgeoning field of democratic transition and consolidation, expects far less from democracy than do the deliberative democrats. This model is essentially that proposed long ago by Schumpeter (1942)(1): democracy is no more than competition among elites for popular approval that confers the right to rule. In the 1950s this idea became the foundation for 'empirical' theories of democracy happy with the generally apathetic role of the ignorant and potentially authoritarian masses (Berelson, 1952(2); Sartori, 1962(3)). >Minimalist liberalism/Dryzek, cf. >Fukuyama/Dryzek.
Gaus I 149
Lindblom: as Lindblom (1982)(4) among others notes, the capitalist market context automatically
punishes governments that pursue policies that undermine the confidence of actual or potential
investors by causing disinvestment and capital flight. Thus when it comes to public policy, democracy can only operate in what Lindblom calls an 'unimprisoned' zone.
Sartori/Dryzek: dominant view among transitologists. Life with this model, and without the kinds of critical questions that democratic theorists are apt to raise, is certainly less complicated for the transitologist. Obviously happy about this state of affairs Sartori wants to be done with the critics: 'the winner is an entirely liberal democracy, not only popularly elected government, but also, and indivisibly, constitutional government; that is, the hitherto much belittled "formal democracy" that controls the exercise of power' (1991(5): 437). >Minimalist liberalism/Dryzek.


1. Schumpeter, Joseph A. (1942) Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. New York: Harper.
2. Berelson, Bernard (1952) 'Democratic theory and public opinion'. Public Opinion Quarterly, 16: 313—30.
3. Sartori, Giovanni (1962) Democratic Theory. Detroit: Wayne State Umversity Press.
4. Lindblom, Charles E. (1982) 'The market as prison' Journal of Politics, 44: 324-36.
5. Sartori, Giovanni (1991) 'Rethinking democracy: bad polity and bad politics'. International Social Science Journal, 129: 437-50.


Dryzek, John S. 2004. „Democratic Political Theory“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Sartori, Giovanni
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-05-12
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