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Reforming DemocraciesSix Facts About Politics That Demand a New Agenda$
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Douglas Chalmers

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231162951

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231162951.001.0001

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Why Do We Need Institutional Reform?

(p.1) Introduction
Reforming Democracies

Douglas A. Chalmers

Columbia University Press

This book examines why we need institutional reform by focusing on six facts about politics and the false assumptions about their relationship to democratic institutions as well as the process of democratic representation. These facts deal with the political importance of noncitizens inside a country; the similar importance of people in other jurisdictions; the rapid rise and fall of a large number of civil society associations; the continuing importance of personal ties; the crucial role of ideas (when our worldview emphasizes material interests); and the enormous range of places within a system where consequential decisions about law and policy are made. This book argues that if institutional reform is needed to correct these faults, we have a much too narrow and static vision of the institutions that require reform. Furthermore, if we are to look at the real world of politics and proceed without adopting the conventional wisdom about what institutions are relevant to the reform of representative democracy, we will need a conception of what representative democratic institutions are in order to use it as a lens.

Keywords:   institutional reform, politics, democratic institutions, democratic representation, noncitizens, civil society, personal ties, representative democracy

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