Designing Democratic Constitutions

  • This article analyses salient trade-offs in the design of democracy. It grounds this analysis in a distinction between two basic models of democracy: simple and complex majoritarianism. These models differ not only in their electoral and party systems, but also in the style of coalition-building. Simple majoritarianism concentrates executive power in a single majority party; complex majoritarianism envisions the formation of shifting, issue-specific coalitions among multiple parties whose programs differ across multiple conflict dimensions. The latter pattern of coalition formation is very difficult to create and sustain under pure parliamentary government. A separation of powers between executive and legislature can facilitate such a pattern, while also achieving central goals of simple majoritarianism: identifiable cabinet alternatives before the election and stable cabinets afterward. The separation of powers can thus balance simple and complex majoritarianism in ways that are unavailable under parliamentarism. The article alsoThis article analyses salient trade-offs in the design of democracy. It grounds this analysis in a distinction between two basic models of democracy: simple and complex majoritarianism. These models differ not only in their electoral and party systems, but also in the style of coalition-building. Simple majoritarianism concentrates executive power in a single majority party; complex majoritarianism envisions the formation of shifting, issue-specific coalitions among multiple parties whose programs differ across multiple conflict dimensions. The latter pattern of coalition formation is very difficult to create and sustain under pure parliamentary government. A separation of powers between executive and legislature can facilitate such a pattern, while also achieving central goals of simple majoritarianism: identifiable cabinet alternatives before the election and stable cabinets afterward. The separation of powers can thus balance simple and complex majoritarianism in ways that are unavailable under parliamentarism. The article also compares the presidential and semi-parliamentary versions of the separation of powers. It argues that the latter has important advantages, e.g., when it comes to resolving inter-branch deadlock, as it avoids the concentration of executive power in a single human being.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Steffen GanghofORCiDGND
DOI:https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v7i4.2239
ISSN:2183-2463
Parent Title (English):Politics and Governance
Subtitle (English):The Search for Optimality
Publisher:Cogitatio Press
Place of publication:Lisbon
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Date of first Publication:2019/11/25
Year of Completion:2019
Release Date:2020/03/02
Tag:electoral systems; parliamentary government; presidential government; semi-parliamentary government
Volume:7
Issue:4
Pagenumber:11
First Page:243
Last Page:253
Funder:Universität Potsdam
Grant Number:PA 2019_135
Organizational units:Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Sozialwissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 32 Politikwissenschaft / 320 Politikwissenschaft
Peer Review:Referiert
Grantor:Publikationsfonds der Universität Potsdam
Publication Way:Open Access
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung, 4.0 International
Notes extern:Zweitveröffentlichung in der Schriftenreihe Postprints der Universität Potsdam : Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Reihe ; 120