The Principles of Representative Government

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Cambridge University Press, Feb 28, 1997 - Political Science - 243 pages
2 Reviews
The thesis of this original and provocative book is that representative government should be understood as a combination of democratic and undemocratic, aristocratic elements. Professor Manin challenges the conventional view that representative democracy is no more than an indirect form of government by the people, in which citizens elect representatives only because they cannot assemble and govern in person. The argument is developed by examining the historical moments when the present institutional arrangements were chosen from among the then available alternatives. Professor Manin reminds us that while today representative institutions and democracy appear as virtually indistinguishable, when representative government was first established in Europe and America, it was designed in opposition to democracy proper. Drawing on the procedures used in earlier republican systems, from classical Athens to Renaissance Florence, in order to highlight the alternatives that were forsaken, Manin brings to the fore the generally overlooked results of representative mechanisms. These include the elitist aspect of elections and the non-binding character of campaign promises.
  

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Contents

Direct democracy and representation selection of officials in Athens
8
The triumph of election
42
the lessons of history
44
The political theory of election and lot in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
67
consenting to power rather than holding office
79
The principle of distinction
94
England
95
France
98
The verdict of the people
161
Partial independence of representatives
163
Freedom of public opinion
167
The repeated character of elections
175
Trial by discussion
183
Metamorphoses of representative government
193
Parliamentarianism
202
Party democracy
206

The United States
102
A democratic aristocracy
132
a pure theory
134
the benefits of ambiguity
149
Election and the principles of modern natural right
156
Audience democracy
218
Conclusion
236
Index
239
Copyright

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About the author (1997)

Manin is Professor in the Department of Politics, New York University, and Directeur des Recherches at the Centre National des Recherches Scientifiques, Paris.

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