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How do face-to-face, assembly processes, and non-face-to-face, popular vote processes impact the decisions made by citizens? Normative discussions of the comparative merits of these two broad types of participatory decision-making processes partly rely on empirical assumptions concerning this question. In this paper, we test the central assumption that assemblies lead to decisions that are more widely supported by participants than popular votes. We do so by analyzing 1,400 decisions made through these processes on the highly salient issue of municipal mergers in Swiss municipalities since 1999. We find that assembly decisions are consistently made by larger majorities than popular vote decisions and that this relationship is significantly mediated by turnout. This suggests that higher levels of agreement in assemblies mainly result from selection biases – with fewer dissenting citizens participating in assemblies than in popular votes – rather than from internal dynamics in assemblies.
Chapter 5 argues that the origins of human swarm problem solving can be traced back to group hunting which required rapid problem solving during the hunt, but also planning activities. Collective actions build on synchronization in the sense that every contribution from individual hunters mattered. Another milestone was the emergence of premodern trade, which enabled human groups to utilize informational diversity from non-kin and even strangers. Knowledge was shared in new ways through large gatherings and trade networks. The third major achievement was the establishment of the first democracy in ancient Athens with institutions such as the Assembly of the People, the Council of 500 and the People`s Court. These institutions let a large number of individuals engage in rapid problem solving in a formalized manner. Individuals from all over the Athenian territory met in the city to solve societal problems. These historical examples show that human swarm problem solving is also a story about our ability to solve problems in increasingly larger groups.
Almost all economists, left and right, love markets. Studies show that markets are more efficient than government because, in the private sector, managers and owners reap the rewards when they efficiently respond to consumer demand. The power of markets increases when, as in the modern world, the uses of resources have multiplied beyond measure.
Dedicated policy professionals are focused on improving their programs. Economists are more likely to also focus on opportunity cost, the damage to other programs when too many resources go to any single one. They are aware that “setting priorities” should not mean our top priority gets all the resources. In some absolute sense, safety is more important than recreation. But we should not abolish all youth baseball leagues, because a child is very rarely struck in the head by the ball.
Despite their frequent usefulness, economists place unbalanced emphasis on narrow self-interest as both compelling motive and route to happiness. Competing disciplines can lead to a deeper perspective. Positive psychology reminds us that friends and family lead to more happiness than wealth. That discipline focuses on admiration and elevation, as does the discipline of virtue ethics. These very different disciplines also agree on the importance of gratitude; it is both a virtue and a feature of the road to happiness. We should be grateful for our economy, which has led us to income per capita that is 25 times what it was in 1820. Liberty sparks our economic dynamism and is also at the heart of our constitutional democracy. In difficult times in particular, we should be grateful for our freedom.
Released in 1984, Steven E. Rhoads' classic was considered by many to be among the best introductions to the economic way of thinking and its applications. This anniversary edition has been updated to account for political and economic developments - from the greater interest in redistributing income and the ascendancy of behaviorism to the Trump presidency. Rhoads explores opportunity cost, marginalism, and economic incentives and explains why mainstream economists - even those well to the left - still value free markets. He critiques economics for its unbalanced emphasis on narrow self-interest as controlling motive and route to happiness, highlighting philosophers and positive psychologists' findings that happiness is far more dependent on friends and family than on income or wealth. This thought-provoking tour of the economist's mind is a must read for our times, providing a clear, lively, non-technical insight into how economists think and why they shouldn't be ignored.
Democratic backsliding and its effects are gaining momentum within Public Administration research as populist parties start to implement their political agendas. Despite the increasing relevance of the topic, the local government is seldom mentioned. This gap is especially relevant as many populist parties govern at first and even only at the local level, playing a crucial role in shaping local politics, public services, and administrative reform. This chapter explores the strategies and the impact of technocratic populism on the public administration in three European cities. It investigates how technocratic populist parties and leaders in cities interact with bureaucracy and combine different strategies of democratic backsliding: centralizing of administrative structures, disciplining the bureaucracy, and controlling societal participation. It also examines the role of ICT tools and innovations within the populist strategies. The empirical analysis showed that technocratic populists employ, with varying success, strategies to transform public administration. However, there are also considerable differences among cases that point to heterogeneity within this populist category.
A free and open discussion is always limited. It depends on specific linguistic conventions, forms of expression and norms of social engagement that make mutual understanding possible. Together with Chapter 4, this chapter explores the nature and scope of plural and open discussions in everyday Mombasa. They identify the possibilities and limits on how people might engage in public based on the specific characteristics of discussion. This chapter focuses on street parliaments, which are gatherings that form on the ground both in the central business district and in residential neighbourhoods. Together, these chapters make an important contribution to understanding the openness of publics in Mombasa. They not only show how everyday publics existed in Mombasa, but also differentiate between forms of exclusion. They show how some forms of exclusion prevented public discussion from taking place at all, while others constrained its openness but were refutable or contestable, such as gender.
Violence has long been a feature of the exercise and contestation of rule in Kenya. This chapter explores how publics reflect the threat and presence of public violence. In the early 2010s, violence, both online and on the streets, became increasingly frequent and present. Throughout early 2014, there were repeated clashes between Muslim youth and security forces, and between street hawkers and the county government in the city. Chapter 9 asks if and how experiences of violence either defended or threatened publics. Violence was, in many ways, silencing. Still, acts of violence and the fear of violence did not simply silence debate. Public discussion on Facebook transgressed boundaries, showing how the issues that were beyond the scope of the street parliaments were present online, bringing emotion and more intimate concerns into public discussion. At the same time, in opening up discussion to consider these acts of violence, Facebook gave rise to new threat to open and plural discussion in the form of personal insult and attacks.
Virtually all studies of policy diffusion are based on statutory enactments by state legislatures. But a substantial number of medicalized marijuana laws were initiated through citizen initiatives and ratified by referenda (I&R). This case study suggests that the diffusion of laws adopted by I&R requires two modifications to the conventional model of policy diffusion. First, early policy adoptions must occur through direct democracy so that horizontal diffusion results when those past adoptions by the I&R process lead to future adoptions. Second, the necessity of bypassing institutions of representative government must be operationalized as an interaction between the availability of direct democracy and the precise political variable that blocks legislative enactments.
This chapter provides an account of the role of political parties in the UK constitution, as well as explaining the move away from the Westminster Parliament being dominated by two major political parties with the rise and fall of the Liberal Democrats and the rise of the SNP. It sets out the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 and the Early Parliamentary General Elections Act 2019.
This chapter examines different theories of democracy, highlighting the relevance of liberal, representative and substantive democracy for the European Convention on Human Rights. It outlines deliberative, participatory and inclusive models of democracy that address limitations of liberal representative democracy.
This article contributes to the literature on direct democracy and public spending in two ways. First, we explore how direct democratic institutions interact with a specific aspect of the representative system, the size of the governing coalition, to influence public spending. Second, based on newly collected data, we examine the relationship between three different direct democratic institutions, coalition size and public spending over the period from 1860 to 2015. Empirically, we find that initiatives increase the size of the public sector under single-party governments, but this positive relationship disappears as coalition size increases. In contrast, we find that financial referendums slow down the growth of public spending, while law referendums are not systematically associated with public spending. Finally, we find that the relationship between direct democratic institutions, coalition size and public spending does not change over time despite the long period under investigation.
Scholars of comparative constitution-making and direct democracy agree that economic conditions affect public support for constitutional reform but disagree as to how. Prospect theory suggests both approaches may be correct, depending on the political and economic context in which voters operate. Fourteen states periodically ask their citizens whether to call a state constitutional convention, making this the oldest form of direct democracy in the United States. We test our theory in preelection polls in two of these states and a survey experiment. According to the results, negative perceptions of economic and government performance increase support for conventions when voters view them as opportunities to correct problems. On the other hand, if a convention represents a chance to improve on an acceptable status quo, voters with positive performance evaluations become more supportive. Our findings contribute to the heuristics literature and inform normative debates over direct democracy and popular constitutionalism.
This chapter analyzes a number of single constitutional traits such as the form of government, the structure of the state (unitary or federal), whether direct democracy institutions can be used, and so on. With regard to each of these (and many other) traits, their effects (economic and otherwise) are discussed first, followed by a discussion of possible determinants. Hence, it is for instance discussed why some countries have a federal structure whereas others have a unitary one.
Political scientists often distinguish between two types of issues: moral versus non-moral issues or social-cultural versus economic issues. The implication is that these types of issues trigger different types of reasoning: while economic issues rely on pragmatic, consequentialist reasoning, social-cultural issues are said to be dependent on principles and deontological reasoning. However, it is not known whether this distinction is as clear-cut from a citizen's perspective. Scholars agree that understanding the morality of voters’ political attitudes has implications for their political behaviour, such as their willingness to compromise and openness to deliberation. However, few studies have analysed whether citizens reason in principled or pragmatic ways on different issues. This study takes an exploratory approach and analyses the determinants of principled versus pragmatic reasoning in direct democracy, in which citizens make direct policy decisions at the ballot box. Using a unique dataset based on thirty-four ballot decisions in Switzerland, it explores the justifications voters give for their ballot decisions in open-ended survey answers. It distinguishes between pragmatic (or consequentialist) arguments and principled (or value-based) arguments. The analysis shows that principled justifications are not tied to particular issues. Voters use both types of justifications almost equally frequently. Moral justifications are more likely when an issue is personally relevant, as well as when a proposition is accepted, while pragmatic justifications prevail when a proposition is rejected. Furthermore, right-wing voters more often argue in pragmatic terms. Finally, the framing of the issue during the campaign significantly affects moral versus pragmatic justifications.
Does the process used to pass a law affect the way citizens evaluate the outcome? In a series of experiments, I manipulate the way in which a law is passed – ballot initiative or the legislative process – to test the effect of process on citizens’ evaluations of policy outcomes. The results show that people view the ballot initiative process as fairer than the legislative process, but that process has a negligible effect on outcome evaluations.
Is there an opposition bias in ballot initiative campaigns? While some early research suggested that the “no” side was advantaged in ballot initiative campaigns, recent work has demonstrated that both opposition and support spending in ballot measure campaigns are effective. We offer a new way to conceptualize status quo orientation in ballot measure elections. Specifically, we argue that opposition arguments are more effective than support arguments because of the well-known framing negativity bias and not because the starting position for uninformed voters is to default to no. We present the results of two survey experiments to test the impact of support and opposition arguments in ballot initiative campaigns. We find consistent evidence that opposition arguments are effective in generating more “no” votes and that support arguments are ineffective in generating more “yes” votes.
Political parties, formal, durable and mass organizations that inform voters on public policy issues, nominate candidates for office and fight elections for the right to govern, are ubiquitous in modern representative democracies but were absent from the direct participatory democracy of ancient Athens. The paper investigates how the political institutions of Athens may explain their absence. The arguments explored include voter homogeneity; the conditions at the start of the democracy, characterized by single constituency configuration of the demos, simple majority voting and lack of organized groups; the irrelevance of holding public office for determining public policy; appointment to public posts through sortition; and voting on single-dimension issues. The paper then discusses how in the absence of parties voters became informed and how political leaders were held accountable by the courts.
Recent scholarly work has discovered that modest changes in the framing of the titles and summaries of ballot measures can have dramatic effects on voter approval. This work expands upon these findings by exploring the effect of language specificity on support for ballot propositions that require the voter to pay for the measure with tax dollars. Although extensive research has explored ballot measure language complexity (e.g., position on the ballot, electoral effects, and prepossessed knowledge have all been shown to play a role in the outcome for propositions), left unanswered is the role of detailed language in altering support. Utilizing original experimental data, this work explores the framing effects of increasing specificity of proposed use of tax expenditures on support for ballot questions. Ultimately, this research finds that propositions providing more information to voters substantially increases the likelihood of support for those measures. Moreover, this increased specificity also bolsters certainty as to how the money will be spent, and intensifies how strongly voters feel about the issues being considered.
The 2017 referendum marked a transition from an already incongruous parliamentary system to rampant presidentialism and created more conflicts rather than defusing them. Given the extraordinary conditions under which the referendum was held, and the limited time allowed for discussion of its possible ramifications, any effort to analyze the eve and aftermath of the referendum provoked more questions than answers. Why was the referendum held in 2017, although the governing party had advocated for a new constitution and transition to a presidential system since it came to power in 2002? What was the attitude of the voters towards the presidential system? How did popular support change or did it in fact change during the referendum campaign? The analysis of these questions presented here relies on extant research to inventory what we really know and do not know about the most recent Turkish referendum and why these unanswered questions might have critical consequences.