The Legal Structure of Democracy
Richard H. Pildes
New York University School of Law
Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics, Forthcoming
NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 08-46
The institutional structure and legal framework that organize democracy can dramatically shape the practice and experience of democracy. This is true for the most visible, macro-scale institutional choices, such as whether the legislature should be chosen through proportional representation or first-past-the-post elections, and whether the executive-legislative relationship should be a parliamentary or separated powers one. It is also true for many less visible choices, such as the way legal rules structure and regulate political parties; the way in which election districts are designed (in systems that use these districts); the institutional structures and rules by which elections are administered and potentially explosive election disputes are resolved; the methods by which the law permits elections to be financed; or the way institutions and law address the tension between majoritarianism and recognition of minority interests. The 'new institutionalism' in political science and legal studies over the last two decades has generated important insights into the theoretical and empirical dimensions of these effects. This chapter surveys the state of the academic literature in law and political science on these issues. The chapter is part of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics.
Keywords: democracy, elections, voting, separatin of powers, democratic institutional design, constitutionalismAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 6, 2008 ; Last revised: November 18, 2008
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