Normative Theories of Democracy
Normative theories of democracy deal with the moral foundations of democracy as such and democratic institutions functioning within it. The theories combine various theoretical enquiries determining what forms of democracy or what normative models are morally desirable and why (Christiano). The purpose of the paper is to consider normative theories of democracy from the viewpoint of main problems they confront.
One of the problems of democratic theory has been to assess citizens as capable of performing the task of governing the state. It is referred to as the problem of democratic citizenship. This problem has several theoretical solutions. Elite theory suggests that high levels of citizen participation is undesirable, as people are poorly informed and pursue irrational and emotionally appealing aims, which results in bad legislations designed by demagogues. Interest group pluralism stipulates that the reason for citizens’ vote is gaining interest relevant for their everyday lives.
Therefore, each group try to have a representative of their interests in the government. This way, democracy is not rule by the majority but rather rule by coalitions of interest groups who decide on policy and law on the bargaining principle. A third approach to the problem of citizenship is neo-liberalism. It states that any of the above-mentioned ways will prove inefficient for organizing a powerful democratic state. Therefore, many of the current functions of the state have to be transferred to the market, and the state, which is the power of people, should be limited to the enforcement of basic rights and liberties (Christiano). The development of the technology gives new possibilities for citizens to govern the state, which are also studied and evaluated in the framework of normative democratic theories. In particular, internet voting is gaining popularity and has been introduced on current reform agenda in nearly all democracies. Many democratic states look forward to implementing Internet voting system, stating that it will lower the cost of holding the elections, produce higher voter turnout, provide fast count of votes, and, eventually, strengthen the democracy (Buchstein 44).
However, Buchstein, the researcher of the topic from the viewpoint of normative democratic theory, suggests that the transition to Internet voting procedures is inadvisable, particularly voting in a public domain. He stipulates the Internet voting may undermine democratic legitimacy and create procedural legitimization crises, and voting in public places is incompatible with secret voting and is, thus, unconstitutional (Buchstein 47, 50). Moreover, voting in polling station has symbolic meaning linking a person to his community, and e-voting may change the whole perception of democracy, which is concerned with common rather than personal good (Buchstein 55). Normative democratic theories also help to determine what model of democratic governance provide better social outcomes. Two major normative models of democratic governance are decentralism and centralism. According to decentralism, good government within a democratic framework is possible when the establishments are decentralized and subjected to multiple veto points, able to check its decisions and performance. Centralism, on the contrary, suggests that good government arises from power being …