Published on 31 March 2015 by Electoral Integrity Project
This article addresses the question of whether a ‘crisis of democracy’ is an invention of theoretically complex but empirically-ignorant theorists who adhere to an excessively unrealistic normative ideal of democracy. Evidence is considered at three levels: (i) quality of democracy indices developed by experts; (ii) survey reports of the opinion of the demos; (iii) a deeper analyses of crucial spheres of democracy. The results point in different directions. According to expert indices and polls, the message is: there is no crisis of democracy. Yet evidence about participation, representation, and the effective power to govern reveal unresolved democratic challenges, such as the exclusion of the lower third of the demos from participation, an inferior representation of their interests, and a loss of national democratic sovereignty in policy-making.