Date: 24 November 2021
Research seminar with Bo Rothstein.
Most definitions of democracy rely on a set of procedural rules for how political power should be accessed legitimately. The basic norm for these procedural rules is according to noted democracy theorist Robert Dahl political equality realized by equal democratic rights. In this understanding of political legitimacy, democracy is a “partisan game” where various interests are given fair possibilities to compete for political power. The concept of “quality of government” relates to the legitimacy in the exercise of political power and is based on the norm of impartiality that is the opposite of partisanship. This is to be realized by, for example, the rule of law and a public administration built on meritocracy. Several tensions between these two bases for achieving political legitimacy will be present. For example, a democratically elected government may want to politicize the public administration and may establish public services and benefits directed only to their political supporters. The rule of law includes the principle of equality before the law, but a democratically elected government may take actions that put itself “above” the law. Various empirical measures and philosophical principles for understanding these type of tensions between democracy and the quality of government will be presented in this lecture.
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