Stronger Legislatures Bring Stronger and More Stable Democracy

When the stable democracy concept is under the spotlight in the specialized literature, there is a common sense that is transversal to many authors. The idea of preservation of a generalized condition composed by multi-factors permeating a society is the core of many definitions related to a stable democracy. The first conception exposed by Eckstein (1961, p. 1) address that simplified view about the theme. The author fundaments the mind of a stable democracy on two main pillars: (i) the ability to maintain the power, and (ii) the capacity to bear without any relevant change in pattern. An analogous perspective is shared by Goldstone and Ulfelder (2004, p. 9). According to them, a stable democracy is related to a society that counts with a persistent state in which there is no threats to the internal order neither to the maintenance of the administration. This type of systems shall be characterized by the absence of turbulences of religious or ethnic nature, and by the inexistence of actions against the government from the part of militars or population groups.

This underlying idea of stability suggested by many authors may be seen as an angular stone for the concept of stable democracies. Nevertheless, this core idea does not sustain itself without the consideration of other essential features. The simple condition of being able to keep an authority position and to mitigate eventual risks to an established standard of heading a society might configure some authoritarian or extremists ways of government. This is the case of many dictatures and totalitarian regimes that were imposed on some nations around the world. It is straightforward to conclude that those forms of leadership directly violate the meaning of democracy, although they show themselves significantly stable.

By putting in highlight how is myopic to restrict the concept of stable democracies to the idea of stability, Eckstein (1961, p. 1) wides this view by integrating it with two complimentary factors, namely, decisional effectiveness an authenticity. The first one aggregates to a political system the required adaptability for employing actions according current circumstances in order to reach a specific goal. The last one prevents the administration of using any type of enforced domination since the democratic trait is introduced by means of the authenticity value. Based on this more wide perspective exposed by the author, the concept of stable democracies might be seen as centralized in the idea of stability which is supported by three pillars — pattern endurance, decisional effectiveness, and authenticity.

Strong Legislature and Stable Democracy

The construction of a stable democracy is a multifaceted undertaking. In fact, the study conducted by Goldstone and Ulfelder (2004, p. 13) listed six critical factors that directly impact on the stability of a democratic system. Political institutions of facade like token legislatures figure on the top of that list. The authors state that regimes that may not be characterized neither as dictatorial nor as completely liberal, face a permanent condition of vulnerability from the part of their leadership. This argument might be endorsed by the work previously presented by Mishler and Hildreth (1984). They establish a relation of cause and effect between the veracity of legislatures and the democracies stability. According to them, strong legislatures may leverage a democratic regime to attain improved levels of solidness. On the other hand, a reverse consequence might be generated when token legislatures are implemented, that is, an environment of permanent instability may be established.

The existence of a connection relating strong legislatures to stable democracies might be considered as plausible given that this link is corroborated by the constated situation in democracies experiencing issues in its stability. An example was published by Baaklini, Denoeux and Springborg (1999). In this work, the authors touch in questions over political vulnerabilities whose root cause are related to the out of control over the legislature mechanism. The topic is discussed on the context of arabic nations. Nonetheless, two of the most symbolic cases where the impact of legislature may be observed on stable democracies are the UK and the US. Both regimes share strong features that contribute to the stability of the system. Hendriks (2010) mentions that “the concentration of power into the hands of a single person and a single party makes for unambiguous and resolute government”. By putting the topic in perspective, the author also indicates weakness that eventually may stand for factors of instability especially in the US case. This nation experiments a more activist civic culture which may create the appropriate scenario for the contestation of the democracy stability. Although that activism is not observed in the UK at the same level, Hendriks cites the “deferential civic culture” of Britains as a potential weakness in the context of a questionable administration that could be take advantage from this “docile attitude” of the citizens.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store