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Claus Offe - Chapter Fifteen. Crisis and Innovation of Liberal Democracy: Can Deliberation Be Institutionalized?
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Chapter Fifteen. Crisis and Innovation of Liberal Democracy: Can Deliberation Be Institutionalized?1
Introduction: Diagnostics of Democratic Failure and the Need for Democratic Innovation
Liberal democracies, and certainly not only the new ones among them, are not functioning well. While there is no realistic and normatively respectable alternative to liberal democracy in sight, the widely observed decline of democratic politics, as well as state policies under democracy, provides reasons for concern. This concern is a challenge for sociologically informed political theorists to come up with designs for remedial innovations of liberal democracy. In this essay, I am going to review some institutional designs for democratic innovation. I shall proceed as follows. The first section will provide a very condensed summary of critical accounts concerning democracy’s actual failures and symptoms of malfunctioning. In a second section, I distinguish two families of institutional innovations that are currently being proposed as remedies for some of the observed deficiencies of democracy, with an emphasis on “deliberative” methods of political preference formation.
Liberal democracy consists of four basic elements: stateness (is a regime form that – so far – is tied to states), rule of law (democratic states are states with a – mostly written – constitution which provides for – at least – two ways in which the exercise of state power is limited), political competition (democracies institutionalize the non-violent conduct of political conflict between contending groups – parties – aspiring to government office), and accountability (presence of mechanisms...
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