- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press (July 11, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300078935
- ISBN-13: 978-0300078930
- Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1 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: #444,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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!
Lijphart does a nice job in bringing together the salient distinguishing characteristics of majoritarian and proportional democracies. He first divides these characteristics into two main groups as executive-parties dimension and federal-unitary dimension; then, he demonstrates that majoritarian and consensus democracies differ remarkably on each dimension. So far this section -which comprises the bulk of the book- is concerned, patterns of democracy is an invaluable resource for its breadth, clarity, and strength.
Yet the problems surface when Lijphart starts answering the "so what?" question. Above all, Lijphart is biased toward the ideal of democracy which maintains that every person must have a say in any decision that influences his/her life. Actually, no one has any problem with this ideal. But Lijphart's conclusion that because consensus democracies fare better in accomplishing this ideal they are superior to the majoritarian models of democracy is misleading and inconsistent with the premise of representational democracy.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We all need knowledge but knowledge that continues to benefit mankind is indispensable. I'm glad I purchased this study bookPublished 21 months ago by Caleb Ahern
I got the book within a few days and it was in great condition and it was a great price! Thank you so much!Published on February 17, 2009 by Heather Walker
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... Read morePublished on August 14, 2008 by Maria
Lijphart was indeed on the the most influential political scientists of his generation.
This book, however, is pure advocacy and a simple rehashing of previous work. Read more
To the reader from California
Arend Lijphart is a staple of political science honours classes in Australia with good reason. Read more
This is a successor to Lijphart's Democracies, which covered twenty-two countries. It is expanded to include LDCs like India, Costa Rica and Jamaica. Read morePublished on March 20, 2000