Ruling the Void: The Hollowing of Western Democracy

Front Cover
Verso Books, 2013 - Political Science - 174 pages

Throughout the long-established democracies of Western Europe, electoral turnouts are in decline, party membership is shrinking in the major parties, and those who remain loyal partisans are being sapped of enthusiasm. Peter Mair's new book weighs the impact of these changes, which together show that, after a century of democratic aspiration, electorates are deserting the political arena. He examines the alarming parallel development that has seen Europe's political elites remodel themselves as a homogeneous professional class, withdrawing into state institutions that offer relative stability in a world of fickle voters. Meanwhile, non-democratic agencies and practices proliferate and gain credibility—not least among them the European Union itself, an organization whose notorious “democratic deficit” reflects the deliberate intentions of those who founded the EU, an association that now contributes to the depoliticization in the member states.

Ruling the Void offers an authoritative and chilling assessment of the prospects for popular political representation today, not only in the varied democracies of Europe but throughout the developed world.


What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


The Passing of Popular Involvement
The Challenge to Party Government
The Withdrawal of the Elites
Popular Democracy and the European
A Note on Additional Tables

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2013)

Peter Mair (1951-2011) was one of the leading political scientists of his generation. He studied at University College Dublin and the University of Leiden, and worked at universities in Ireland, the U.K., the Netherlands and Italy, finally becoming Professor of Comparative Politics at the European University Institute, Florence. His books include Party System Change and, with Stefano Bartolini, Identity, Competition and Electoral Availability.

Bibliographic information