Skip to main content Accessibility help

The Political Foundations of Democracy and the Rule of the Law

  • Barry R. Weingast (a1)

This paper develops a game-theoretic approach to the problem of political officials' respect for political and economic rights of citizens. It models the policing of rights as a coordination problem among citizens, but one with asymmetries difficult to resolve in a decentralized manner. The paper shows that democratic stability depends on a self-enforcing equilibrium: It must be in the interests of political officials to respect democracy's limits on their behavior. The concept of self-enforcing limits on the state illuminates a diverse set of problems and thus serves as a potential basis for integrating the literature. The framework is applied to a range of topics, such as democratic stability, plural societies, and elite pacts. The paper also applies its lessons to the case of the Glorious Revolution in seventeenth-century England.

Hide All
Almond, Gabriel A., and Verba, Sidney. [1963] 1989. The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Ames, Barry. 1987. Political Survival. Berkeley: University California Press.
Anderson, Benedict. 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism. Rev. ed. London: Verso.
Baloyra, Enrique A. 1986. “Public Opinion and Support for the Regime: 1973–83.” In Venezuela: The Democratic Experience, Martz, John D. and Myers, David J.. Rev. ed. New York: Praeger.
Barry, Brian. 1970. Economists, Sociologists, and Democracy. London: Collier-Macmillan.
Bates, Robert H. 1983. “Modernization, Ethnic Competition, and the Rationality of Politics in Contemporary Africa.” In State versus Ethnic Claims: African Policy Dilemmas, ed. Rothchild, Donald and Olorunsola, Victor A.. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Burton, Michael, Gunther, Richard, and Higley, John. 1992. “Introduction: elite transformations and democratic regimes.” In Elites and Democratic Consolidation in Latin America and Southern Europe, ed. Higley, John and Gunther, Richard. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Calvert, Randall L. 1995. “Rational Actors. Equilibrium, and Social Institutions.” In Explaining Social Institutions, ed. Night, Jack and Sened, Itai. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Dahl, Robert. 1966. Political Oppositions. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Dahl, Robert. 1971. Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Diamond, Larry. 1994a. “Toward Democratic Consolidation.” Journal of Democracy 5 (1994):317.
Diamond, Larry. 1994b. “Introduction: Political Culture and Democracy.” In Political Culture and Democracy in Developing Countries, ed. Diamond, Larry. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Diamond, Larry. 1996. “Is the Third Wave Over?Journal of Democracy 7 (07):2037.
Epstein, Lee, et al. 1994. The Supreme Court Compendium: Data, Decisions, and Developments. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Fearon, James, and Laitin, David. 1996. “Explaining Interethnic Cooperation.” American Political Science Review 90 (December): 715–35.
Friedman, Lawrence. 1984. American Law. New York: W. W. Norton.
Fudenberg, Drew, and Maskin, Eric. 1986. “Folk Theorems in Repeated Games with Discounting and Incomplete Information.” Econometrica 54 (05):553–4.
Gellner, Ernest. 1983. Nations and Nationalism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Gibbons, Robert, and Rutten, Andrew. 1996. “Hierarchical Dilemmas.” Cornell University. Typescript.
Greif, Avner. 1994. “Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies.” Journal of Political Economy 102 (10):912–45.
Haggard, Stephan, and Kaufman, Robert R.. 1995. The Political Economy of Democratic Transitions. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Hand, Learned. 1952. The Spirit of Liberty. New York: Knopf.
Hardin, Russell. 1989. “Why a Constitution?” In The Federalist Papers and the New Institutionalism, ed. Grofman, Bernard and Wittman, Donald. New York: Agathon Press.
Horowitz, Donald. 1985. Ethnic Groups in Conflict. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Horowitz, Donald L. 1991. A Democratic South Africa: Constitutional Engineering in a Divided Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Huntington, Samuel. 1968. Political Order in Changing Societies. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Jones, J. R. 1972. The Revolution of 1688 in England. New York: W. W. Norton.
Karl, Terry Lynn. 1986. “Petroleum and Political Pacts: The Transition to Democracy in Venezuela.” In Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Latin America, ed. O'Donnell, Guillermo, Schmitter, Philippe C., and Whitehead, Laurence. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Karl, Terry Lynn. 1990. “Dilemmas of Democratization in Latin America.” Comparative Politics 23 (10): 121.
Karl, Terry Lynn. 1994. “Central America in the Twenty-First Century: Prospects for a Democratic Region.” Stanford University. Typescript.
Key, V. O. Jr. 1961. Public Opinion and American Democracy. New York: Knopf.
Laitin, David D. 1988. “Language Games.” Comparative Politics 20 (04):289302.
Laitin, David D. 1992. Language Repertoires and State Construction in Africa. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Laitin, David D. 1994. “The Tower of Babel as a Coordination Game: Political Linguistics in Ghana.” American Political Science Review 88 (09):622–34.
Lijphart, Arend. 1968. The Politics of Accommodation. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Lijphart, Arend. 1980. “The Structure of Inference.” In The Civil Culture Revisited, ed. Almond, Gabriel A. and Verba, Sidney. Boston: Little, Brown.
Lijphart, Arend. 1984. Democracies: Patterns of Majoritarian and Consensus Government in Twenty-One Countries. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Lipset, Seymour Martin. 1960. Political Man. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.
Lipset, Seymour Martin. 1963. The First New Nation: The United States in Historical and Comparative Perspective. New York: Basic Books.
Loveman, Brian. 1993. The Constitution of Tyranny: Regimes of Exception in Spanish America. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Matsuyama, Kiminori. N.d. “Economic Development as a Coordination Problem.” In The Role of Government in East Asian Economies: Comparative Institutional Analysis, ed. Aoki, Masahiko, Okuno-Fujihara, Masahiro, and Kim, Hyung-ki. New York: Oxford University Press. Forthcoming.
Meinig, D. W. 1993. The Shaping of America: A Geographical Perspective on 500 Years of History. Volume 2: Continental America, 1800–1867. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Milgrom, Paul, and Roberts, John. 1992. Economics, Organization, and Management. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Miller, John. 1992. “Crown, Parliament, and People.” In Liberty Secured? ed. Jones, J. R.. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Moore, Barrington. 1966. Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. Boston: Beacon Press.
Moore, Glover. 1953. The Missouri Controversy: 1819–1821. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press.
North, Douglass C. 1981. Structure and Change in Economic History. New York: Norton.
North, Douglass C. 1993. “Institutions and Credible Commitment.” Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics 149 (03): 1123.
North, Douglass C., and Weingast, Barry R.. 1989. “Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-century England.” Journal of Economic History 44 (12):803–32.
O'Donnell, Guillermo, and Schmitter, Philippe C.. 1986. Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Tentative Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Ordeshook, Peter. 1992. “Constitutional Stability.” Constitutional Political Economy 3 (Spring/Summer):137.
Potter, David M. 1976. The Impending Crisis: 1848–1861. New York: Harper Torchbooks.
Przeworski, Adam. 1991. Democracy and the Market. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Przeworski, Adam. 1995. “Democracy as an Equilibrium.” New York University. Typescript.
Putnam, Robert. 1993. Making Democracy Work. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Rabushka, Alvin, and Shepsle, Kenneth A.. 1972. Politics in Plural Societies. Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill.
Remmer, Karen L. 1991. “The Political Impact of Economic Crisis in Latin America in the 1980s.” American Political Science Review 85 (09):777800.
Rustow, Dankwart A. 1970. “Transitions to Democracy.” Comparative Politics 2 (04):337–63.
Schmitter, Philippe C. 1992. “Interests Systems and the Consolidation of Democracies.” In Reexamining Democracy: Essays in Honor of Seymour Martin Lipset, ed. Marks, Gary and Diamond, Larry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Schwoerer, Lois. 1981. The Declaration of Rights, 1689. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Schumpeter, Joseph A. 1991 [1918]. “The Crisis of the Tax State.” In Joseph A. Schumpeter, ed. Swedberg, Richard. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Shapiro, Ian. 1993. “Democratic Innovation: South Africa in Comparative Context.” Review article, World Politics 46 (1):121–50.
Stepan, Alfred. 1988. Rethinking Military Politics: Brazil and the Southern Cone. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Tsebelis, George. 1990. Nested Games: Rational Choice in Comparative Politics. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Weingast, Barry R. 1995. “The Economic Role of Political Institutions: Federalism, Markets, and Economic Development.” Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 11 (04):131.
Weingast, Barry R. 1997a. Institutions and Political Commitment: A New Political Economy of the American Civil War Era. Stanford University. Typescript.
Weingast, Barry R. 1997b. “The Political Foundations of Limited Government: Parliament and Sovereign Debt in 17th and 18thcentury England.” In Frontiers of the New Institutional Economics, ed. Nye, John V. C. and Drobak, John N.. New York: Academic Press.
Weingast, Barry R. N.d. “Constructing Trust: The Political and Economic Roots of Ethnic and Regional Violence.” In Where Is the New Institutionalism Now? ed. Haufler, Virginia, Soltan, Karol, and Uslaner, Eric. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Forthcoming.
Williamson, Oliver. 1985. The Economic Institutions of Capitalism. New York: Free Press.
Wood, Elisabeth Jean. 1995. “Agrarian Social Relations and Democratization: The Negotiated Resolution of the Civil War in El Salvador.” Ph.D. diss., Stanford University.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed