Taking the Multidimensionality of Democracy Seriously: Institutional Patterns and the Quality of Democracy

Two dimensions of democracy, 1997–2002


Democracies come in all shapes and sizes. Which configuration of political institutions produces the highest democratic quality is a notorious debate. The lineup of contenders includes ‘consensus’, ‘Westminster’, and ‘centripetal’ democracy. A trend in the evaluation of the relationship between empirical patterns of democracy and its quality is that the multidimensional nature of both concepts is increasingly taken into account. This article tests the assertion that certain centripetal configurations of proportionality in party systems and government, and unitarism in the remaining state structure, might outperform all other alternatives both in terms of inclusiveness and effectiveness. Analyzing 33 democracies, the results of interactive regression models only partially support this claim. Proportional–unitary democracies have the best track record in terms of representation, but there are little differences in participation, transparency, and government capability compared with other models.

European Political Science Review 8(3):473-494