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Political Representation in Leader Democracy 1

  • András Körösényi

The essay focuses on the neglected problem of democratic politics, i.e. on the role of leadership. Although in democracies public office holders are controlled to a certain extent, leaders still have wide room for political manoeuvre and decide without any ‘instruction’ of the citizens. Re-working Weber's and Schumpeter's theory, the author aims to build the model of leader democracy. He highlights the major traits of it in a comparison with the deliberative and the aggregative–utilitarian concepts of democratic theory. The theory of leader democracy is applied to the problem of representation, which, in contrast to mechanical mirroring, gains a new, dynamic and qualitative meaning.

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An earlier version of this article was presented at the ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops, University of Edinburgh, 28 March–2 April 2003. I am grateful to the OTKA for supporting my research.

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2 Bernard Manin wrote about a new epoch in the history of representative democracy: The Principles of Representative Government, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997.

3 See, for example, Michael Saward's review of current thinking and new directions in contemporary democratic theory. There is not even a single strand among the theories that would have any interest in leadership, or even in the vertical dimension of democracy. ( Saward, Michael, ‘Reconstructing Democracy: Current Thinking and New Directions’, Government and Opposition, 36: 4 (2001), pp. 559–82.)

4 Giovanni Sartori, Democratic Theory Revisited, Chatham, Chatham House, 1987, p. 171.

5 As John Plamenatz remarks, ‘The idea that there is something inherently un- democratic about the mere fact of leadership … has attracted both democrats and sceptics about democracy’. John Plamenatz, Democracy and Illusion, London, Longman, 1973, p. 56.

6 Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, London, Unwin, 1987.

7 The empirical probability of the theory depends on various factors, e.g. the nature of the electoral and party system, the constitutional setting and personal factors.

8 Sartori, Democratic Theory Revisited, p. 164.

9 Adam Przeworski, ‘Minimalist Conception of Democracy: a Defence’, in Ian Shapiro and Casiano Hacker-Cordón (eds), Democracy's Value, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1999, p. 23.

10 See Sartori, Democratic Theory Revisited, pp. 119–20; Santoro, Emilio, ‘Democratic Theory and Individual Autonomy’, European Journal of Political Research, 23 (1993), pp. 131–2.

11 Bellamy, Richard, ‘Schumpeter and the Transformation of Capitalism, Liberalism and Democracy’, Government and Opposition, 26: 4 (1991), pp. 500–19. David Held, Models of Democracy, Cambridge, Polity, 1987, pp. 172–3, 178–9; Plamenatz, Democracy and Illusion, pp. 95–129.

12 Joseph V. Femia, Against the Masses, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 83.

13 Sartori, Democratic Theory Revisited, p. 117.

14 Jürgen Habermas, ‘Discourse Ethics: Notes on a Program of Philosophical Justification’, in J. Habermas, Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 1990, pp. 43–115.

15 In John Rawls's A Theory of Justice, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1971, the role of the original position and the veil of ignorance ensure these conditions.

16 An analogy might be drawn between an ideal type of nineteenth-century liberal parliamentarism and the vision some deliberative democrats have on the nature of public discussion: liberal parliamentarism and deliberation are directly connected in the works of Jürgen Habermas (The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 1993; Between Facts and Norms, Cambridge, Polity, 1997).

While authors of liberal parliamentarism, like Edmund Burke or John Stuart Mill did not believe in a single best answer (truth) in politics but in the employment of best judgement, Condorcet, Rousseau as well as other authors of the French Enlightenment believed, however, that the general interest is given a priori and that the de- mocratic process converges to it. There exists some state of the world that is best for all; hence, there is one ‘correct’ decision in any issue (see Przeworski, ‘Minimalist Conception’, pp. 26–31). Sieyés and Guizot believed in the power of ‘deliberation’; public discussion in the representative assembly is the means of overcoming conflicts of views and interests and of searching for truth and justice (see Habermas, ‘Discourse, Ethics’, p. 101). Habermas and Rawls, building their theory on the Kantian concept of public reason, also shared this view. However, the site of deliberation is not connected exclusively to the parliament in their theories.

17 Jon Elster, ‘The Market and the Forum. Three Varieties of Political Theory’, in James Bohman and William Rehg (eds), Deliberative Democracy. Essays on Reason and Politics, Cambridge, MA, and London, MIT Press, 1997, pp. 11–12.

18 John Rawls, Political Liberalism, New York, Columbia University Press, 1993, pp. 231–9.

19 Michael Saward, ‘Less than Meet Eye: Democratic Legitimacy and Deliberative Democracy’, in M. Saward (ed.), Democratic Innovation, London, Routledge/ECPR, 2000, p. 71.

20 Parliament is not the forum of rational debate in search of truth but it is the forum for rational bargaining and interest conciliation. Consequently, politics based on interests does not result in consensus but in compromise.

21 David Judge, Representation, London and New York, Routledge, 1999, p. 23.

22 Bernard Manin, Adam Przeworski and Susan C. Stokes, ‘Elections and Representation’, in Adam Przeworski, Susan C. Stokes and Bernard Manin (eds), Democracy, Accountability and Representation, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1999, pp. 31–2.

23 This is the minimalist definition of democracy given by Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, pp. 242 and 250.

24 Manin, Przeworski and Stokes make a point that politicians do have goals, interests and values of their own. And once they have been elected, they may want to pursue their own endeavours, i.e. to do things other than represent the public (‘Elections and Representation’, p. 29).

25 Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, p. 263.

26 Plamenatz rightly criticized Schumpeter at this point and introduced the term persuasion vis-à-vis Schumpeter's term of manufacturing. Plamenatz, Democracy and Illusion, p. 126.

27 Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy.

28 Or a craftsman according to Aristotle, who produces something familiar (and does not create anything new). His knowledge is a tekhné type of knowledge.

29 About the manipulation of citizen's preferences by politicians or by the government, see William Riker, The Art of Political Manipulation, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 1986; José Maria Maravall, ‘Accountability and Manipulation’, in Przeworski, Stokes and Manin, Democracy, Accountability and Representation, pp. 154–96.

30 Hannah Pitkin, The Concept of Representation, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1967, p. 103.

31 Judge, Representation, p. 14; Sartori, Democratic Theory Revisited, p. 152.

32 Pitkin, The Concept of Representation, p. 107.

33 Charismatic leadership, in its pure form, is an answer to extraordinary challenges.

34 See n.16 above.

35 A craftsman, using Aristotle's word.

36 The speakers try to persuade the audience rather than each other ( Jon Elster, ‘Introduction’, in Jon Elster (ed.), Deliberative Democracy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 2), if the discussion is taking place in a forum/assembly, and not in a committee room.

37 Michael Oakeshott, Rationalism in Politics and other Essays, Indianapolis, Liberty Press, 1991, pp. 70–2.

38 Ibid., p. 70.

39 Carl Schmitt, Römischer Katholizismus und politische Form, Stuttgart, Ernest Klett, 1923 (1984).

40 Cf. John P. McCormick, Carl Schmitt's Critique of Liberalism: Against Politics as Technology, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 157–206.

41 Schmitt, Römischer Katholizismus und politische Form.

42 In this, but only in this limited sense is leader democracy a ‘rule by the people’.

43 Przeworski, ‘Minimalist Conception of Democracy’, pp. 23 and 44; see also Judge, Representation, p. 12.

1 An earlier version of this article was presented at the ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops, University of Edinburgh, 28 March–2 April 2003. I am grateful to the OTKA for supporting my research.

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