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The decline of democratic governance: An analysis and a modest proposal


Marsh, I, The decline of democratic governance: An analysis and a modest proposal, The Political Quarterly, 84, (2) pp. 228-237. ISSN 0032-3179 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© The Author 2013. The Political Quarterly © The Political Quarterly Publishing Co. Ltd. 2013 Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1467-923X.2013.12008.x


A WIDE literature attests to the decline of democratic governance, at least in the Anglo-American world. Whether measured by turnout, perceived differences between the major parties, party membership, trust or the many indicators used to evaluate citizen attitudes, the substantial and growing disengagement between the formal political system and its publics seems clear. But there are also positive developments, particularly on the institutional front. Freedom of information has been extended. Citizen rights have, under the European Charter, statutory force. Parliamentary committees have grown in stature and influence. And devolution within the United Kingdom is extending more political powers to the Scottish, Welsh and Irish nations. So how should contemporary democracy be judged? The first part of this article explores that issue. It starts with the major parties, once basic agents of mass mobilisation and representation, and argues that a cascading series of developments, often involving contingent adjustments to immediate exigencies, have, in a longer perspective, created a fundamental gap —perhaps even a gulf—between the political system and its publics. This gap is the source and heart of democratic decline. A second section then sketches paths to democratic renewal. In particular, it asks: how might this gap be closed? What structures could become the platform for renewed linkage between the formal system and its publics? What other changes might be required to make this a reality? Are prospects of change fanciful?

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:decline of democratic governance
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Political science
Research Field:Political science not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Government and politics
Objective Field:Public services policy advice and analysis
UTAS Author:Marsh, I (Professor Ian Marsh)
ID Code:90970
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Australian Innovation Research Centre
Deposited On:2014-05-05
Last Modified:2014-12-04

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