One may accept, as Dahl did, that representative democracy is a means to democratize a government. Yet, representative democracy is far from being a true democracy, both restricting and promoting popular rule.
The concept of representative democracy derived from the criticism of absolutism, held by the liberal philosophers of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Representative democracy fully theorized in the 20th century was first aim to promote popular rule. Yet, that particular form of democracy is nothing but a compromise between a true democracy- that is the power of the many- and an oligarchic government- that is the power of the few. Representative democracy also restrict popular rule ...
[...] As Arblaster put it, virtue of representative democracy is precisely that it restricts and restrains popular power”. II/ The inherent imperfection of representation, the concentration of the political power in the hands of the government party, the rise of bureaucracy and the growing influence of the economic world upon the entire society, are those factors that restrains popular power. The major criticism of representative democracy lies in the rejection of the idea that the representative government act for the best interests of both the majority and the minorities. [...]
[...] Nowadays, it is the economic life which seems to dominate the government powers. Consequently, the power of the representatives, and thus the power of the people, is largely weakened. The rise of the economic power upon the whole society is one of the factors that caused what is generally called crisis of representation”. The number of non-voters is dramatically increasing. That means that citizen's political interest, which is vital for a democratic system, is decreasing. As Gutmann claimed it, consequences of our not voting would be disastrous for both a democratic society as a whole and for any individual citizen who wants the benefits that democracy has to offer.” This phenomenon is reinforced by the persistence of economic and social inequalities. [...]
[...] Representative democracy fully theorized in the 20th century was first aim to promote popular rule Yet, that particular form of democracy is nothing but a compromise between a true democracy- that is the power of the many- and an oligarchic government- that is the power of the few. Representative democracy also restrict popular rule (II). There is no representative democracy without promotion of popular rule. This political concept derived from the theory of representative government, which was built to reject the legitimacy of absolutism. [...]
[...] For liberal philosophers, the representation is a mean to restrict popular participation and control, concentrating the day-to-day powers of the government in the hands of an elite (Arblaster, 1994). Indeed, people are not involved in the decision making process. People rarely participate in the government business. That is why Rousseau could have said that “British people is free only during the election of members of parliament.” Representative democracy may be seen as a particular form of oligarchic government described by Aristotle. [...]
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