Political Institutions: Democracy and Social Choice

OUP Oxford
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The role of institutions is to establish the domains of public activity and the rules to select leaders. Democratic regimes organize in simple institutional frameworks to foster the concentration of power and alternative successive absolute winners and losers. They favour political satisfaction of relatively small groups, as well as policy instability. In contrast, pluralistic institutions produce multiple winners, including multiparty co-operation and agreements. They favour stable, moderate, and consensual policies that can satisfy large groups' interests on a great number of issues. The more complex the political institutions, the more stable and socially efficient the outcome will be. This book develops an extensive analysis of this relationship. It explores concepts, questions and insights based on social choice theory, while empirical focus is cast on more than 40 democratic countries and a few international organizations from late medieval times to the present. The book argues that pluralistic democratic institutions are judged to be better than simple formula of their higher capacity of producing socially satisfactory results.
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About the author

Professor of Political Science and Economics at the Higher Council of Scientific Research and the Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona
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OUP Oxford
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Published on
Feb 1, 2001
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Political Science / History & Theory
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Democracy
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In July 2004, Barack Obama electrified the Democratic National Convention with an address that spoke to Americans across the political spectrum. One phrase in particular anchored itself in listeners’ minds, a reminder that for all the discord and struggle to be found in our history as a nation, we have always been guided by a dogged optimism in the future, or what Obama called “the audacity of hope.”

The Audacity of Hope is Barack Obama’s call for a different brand of politics—a politics for those weary of bitter partisanship and alienated by the “endless clash of armies” we see in congress and on the campaign trail; a politics rooted in the faith, inclusiveness, and nobility of spirit at the heart of “our improbable experiment in democracy.” He explores those forces—from the fear of losing to the perpetual need to raise money to the power of the media—that can stifle even the best-intentioned politician. He also writes, with surprising intimacy and self-deprecating humor, about settling in as a senator, seeking to balance the demands of public service and family life, and his own deepening religious commitment.

At the heart of this book is Barack Obama’s vision of how we can move beyond our divisions to tackle concrete problems. He examines the growing economic insecurity of American families, the racial and religious tensions within the body politic, and the transnational threats—from terrorism to pandemic—that gather beyond our shores. And he grapples with the role that faith plays in a democracy—where it is vital and where it must never intrude. Underlying his stories about family, friends, and members of the Senate is a vigorous search for connection: the foundation for a radically hopeful political consensus.

A public servant and a lawyer, a professor and a father, a Christian and a skeptic, and above all a student of history and human nature, Barack Obama has written a book of transforming power. Only by returning to the principles that gave birth to our Constitution, he says, can Americans repair a political process that is broken, and restore to working order a government that has fallen dangerously out of touch with millions of ordinary Americans. Those Americans are out there, he writes—“waiting for Republicans and Democrats to catch up with them.”
 Este libro reúne una selección de los artículos de opinión publicados en EL PAÍS sobre el conflicto catalán entre el 11 de septiembre de 2012 y el 11 de septiembre de 2014. Las fechas elegidas tienen un valor simbólico (el periodo de dos años comprendido entre esas celebraciones de la Diada, la fiesta nacional de Cataluña), pero a la vez enmarcan la intensificación de un debate político que se ha reflejado en las páginas del periódico con las firmas de numerosos intelectuales.

Los criterios de selección aplicados se basan en que los artículos trasciendan la actualidad inmediata de la fecha de publicación y en que no estén firmados por políticos, pues entendemos que su voz ya encuentra cada día amplios espacios en los medios de comunicación y que los ciudadanos conocen bien sus opiniones. No obstante, sí figura un interesantísimo diálogo entre Felipe González y Jordi Pujol (mantenido durante un acto que organizó EL PAÍS) que fue moderado por Javier Moreno. 

Se ha procurado asimismo evitar textos que puedan resultar repetitivos o demasiado coincidentes entre sí. No obstante, esas reiteraciones se producen en alguna ocasión, como consecuencia de los grandes grupos ideológicos en que cada autor se encuadra, voluntaria o involuntariamente. Finalmente, otros textos se han incluido o excluido con el criterio de buscar un cierto equilibrio que permita la presencia de todas las posturas, compatible con una extensión que no haga inmanejable este libro. El total de artículos disponibles sumaba 552, de los que se han escogido 163. 

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