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Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries Paperback – July 11, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0300078930 ISBN-10: 0300078935

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (July 11, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300078935
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300078930
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Matthew P. Arsenault on November 18, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lijphart seeks to test which type of democratic institutions - consensus or majoritarian - performs most effectively. He tests the performance of these institutions through a statistical analysis of their relative efficiency in three broad fields: macroeconomic management, control of violence, and what he terms the "kinder and gentler" qualities of democracy (293). However, before discussing the results of Lijphart's study, it is necessary to explore what distinguishes the institutions of majoritarian and consensus systems.

Lijphart distinguishes between these two types of democracy by illustrating ten institutional differences which divide the typologies. For clarity, the author divides these ten differences into two distinct dimensions: executives-parties, and federal-unitary. The executives-parties dimension addresses "the arrangement of executive power, the party and electoral systems, and interest groups" (3). The federal-unitary dimension illustrates differences in institutional structure of a federated versus unitary government.

According to the executives-parties dimension, the majoritarian system, or Westminster model, is found to have a two party system and a strong one-party executive and cabinet. Often the executive is more powerful than his or her legislative counterparts. Furthermore, a majoritarian system often uses a single member district electoral system which can lead to disproportional representation, and has a highly competitive pluralist interest group system. Lijphart cites Britain and pre-1996 New Zealand as majoritarian systems.

Lijphart's consensus democracy varies institutionally from the Westminster model. First, under the majoritarian model, the executive office is often composed of a multi-party power-sharing cabinet or coalition.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "bostrom1302" on March 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
This revision of Lijphart's Classic 'Democracies' is a first-rate survey of 36 democracies, which focuses on the relationships between a number of political variables. One of the most striking features of the book is the manner in which Lijphart divides the book into 10 areas of inquiry (e.g. electoral systems, party formations, executive power, etc.), devoting one chapter per area. He reviews the theory regarding the area of interest, while also attempting to use applied examples from the 36 countries to illustrate that theory. He then tries to construct rough numerical indices to outline more formally the degree and extent to which qualitative differences exist. This helps in conceptualizing how (dis)similar two countries are with respect to one another.
The other outstanding aspect of the book is that by the end, the reader is broadly familiar with the structure of all 36 democracies. You walk away understanding how diverse the party formations of federal Germany are, or how UK Commonwealths tend to mirror their colonial power in terms of parliamentary power, centralisation of power, and so forth.
Because of its lucid and and pragmatic structure, as well as its strong comparative approach, I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about what features differentiate democracies and why France is or is not similar to Japan or Paupa New Guinea--an excellent study by a classic thinker!
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
Unfortunately not everything gets better with time. The original 1984 version of this book was stellar. An excellent introduction to comparative politics. Easily accessible to undergraduates and a useful reference for early graduates. Unfortunately the new book adds nothing to the original insights and uses surprisingly poor statistical methodology to force points when the data are simply not supportive. At times the author even admits to "arbitrarily selecting thresholds." As a result of the alarmingly poor methodology employed I can no longer use this text as a key componant of my undergraduate comparative politics courses. For graduates I would use it only as an example of what not to do.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Griswold VINE VOICE on May 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Arend Lijphart's "Patterns of Democracy" has become a standardized text within the comparative politics subfield, but I think the question needs to be asked "Given all the divergence in regime type that sprouted with the downfall of the Soviet Union, is the pure Westminster system still a viable starting point for analyzing the points of democratic governance. There's such a regime diversity these days that even regimes of a Westminster character have mutated into systems with two or three different characters. Its' still relevant information particularly when differentiating between presidential and prime ministerial type systems, cabinets, electoral systems etc. But I have to question whether the mixing of systemic elements has left Patterns of Democracy, a dated treatment of a system that has drastically changed.
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By Caleb Ahern on April 29, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We all need knowledge but knowledge that continues to benefit mankind is indispensable. I'm glad I purchased this study book
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By Maria on August 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book it a need of anyone who is either interested in or studies political science. I am an International Relations major at Harvard, and I have used the book in every government course I have had. It is very easy to read and not over-articulate. I like Lijphart's clear analysis, it is a great book.
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