DISC Lecture Series: "Varieties of Democratic Coordination "
Steffen Ganghof is Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Potsdam. His areas of research include democratic theory, political institutions and political economy. He is the author of "The Politics of Income Taxation: A Comparative Analysis" (ECPR Press) and his research papers have been (or will be) published by journals such as the British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Party Politics, or Politics, Philosophy & Economics.
Are some varieties of (advanced) democracy more stable than others? If so, why? To address these questions, the paper starts from a theory-based typology of democratic systems. Democracy is understood as a large-scale coordination game of the “Battle of the Sexes”-type. Ideal-types of (parliamentary) democracy differ in the stages at which the generic democratic coordination problem is solved – and at which coordination problems appear. Four coordination regimes are distinguished: Party, Alliance, Cabinet and Law Coordination. These four regimes are systematically related to two basic tradeoffs in democratic design: between accountability and proportionality as well as between stability and flexibility in coalition-building. Based on the notion of coordination failure, the paper explores the relative stability of different coordination regimes; it suggests that majoritarian regimes are more stable than the supermajoritarian one, and that Alliance and Cabinet Coordination are more stable than Party and Law Coordination. Finally, the paper shows how hybrid coordination regimes in Australia and Switzerland mitigate the two tradeoffs and stabilize elements of Law Coordination.