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A contextualized Measurement of Democratic quality

Michael Stoiber
FernUniversität in Hagen
Michael Stoiber
FernUniversität in Hagen
Open Panel

Abstract

Indices of democracy fail when assessing different degrees of democratic quality among democracies. In order to avoid institutional fallacy the respective context must be taken into account. I develop and apply a new index based on this argument. Political systems can be considered democratic to the degree that they allow for the effective participation of citizens in the decisions they are subjected to. Which forms of participation are needed depends on the respective context. The context factors are the structure of society (heterogeneity and dominance structures) and the structure of the decision-making system (complexity and informalization). A high heterogeneity will necessitate strong forms of participation, a high complexity broad opportunity structures; informalization will raise the demand for direct instruments; and strong dominance structures render participation ineffective. My model works as follows 1) determine the demand, i.e. a specific composition of opportunity structure from the context variables 2) The demand is to be confronted to the supply: the existing opportunity structures and their effectiveness. A normalized index is developed to quantify the results. The empirical analysis is done with 10 western democracies.