Date: 11 May 2022
Research seminar with Julia Cage, Associate Professor of Economics, Sciences Po Paris
Electoral democracies are in crisis. Turnout is at its lowest point in the history of universal suffrage, particularly among the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups. In this seminar, I will rely on my book The Price of Democracy and argue that the solution involves a radical rethinking of our system of political finance, participation and representation.
First, I will show that the central issue of political finance is the great absent of democratic theory and practice. Different countries have tried to develop various legislations to curb the power of private money in politics and to develop systems to fund campaigns and parties. But these attempts have been incoherent and unsystematic. As a consequence, electoral democracies are often closer to the “one dollar one vote” logic than to the “one person one vote” ideal.
Next, I will show that it is possible to learn from these historical experiments, ranging from the United States to France, Britain, Germany, Italy and other countries, in order to design a better system that would increase popular participation and trust into the electoral process. This involves the creation of “equal democracy vouchers” (EDV), whereby each voter would have an equal amount to spend to finance political parties. This would come with a strict cap on private donors, but also with a better regulation of the media industry.
Finally, I will argue for the need to include a minimal fraction of representatives from disadvantaged socio-economic groups in parliamentary assemblies.
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