2020-2021 Undergraduate Academic Catalog

CPOLS 2130 Elections and Democracy

Democracy means political equality-all members of society have an equal opportunity to participate in the public decisions that affect their lives. In large, complex, economically stratified societies, democracy is an unreachable, but approachable, ideal. Electoral systems are imperfect, but practical, means to approach democratic ends. Elections serve three main political functions: empowerment, representation and legitimation. Elections can allow some members of society to empower and enrich themselves; they may ensure that government is more or less representative of the citizenry; and they can give people the impression that the regime deserves to rule. This course examines how different types of electoral systems serve these functions and achieve more or less democratic outcomes. Students are encouraged to ask: How democratic are elections in my country compare to others? Why aren't our elections more ideally democratic? What reforms might improve our electoral system, and why haven't they been instituted?