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The China ModelPolitical Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy$
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Daniel A. Bell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691173047

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691173047.001.0001

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Is Democracy the Least Bad Political System?

Is Democracy the Least Bad Political System?

Chapter:
(p.14) Chapter 1 Is Democracy the Least Bad Political System?
Source:
The China Model
Author(s):

Daniel A. Bell

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691173047.003.0002

This chapter examines whether democratic elections lead to good consequences, and more specifically whether democracy is the least bad political system. It considers four key flaws of electoral democracy: the tyranny of the majority, the tyranny of the minority, the tyranny of the voting community, and the tyranny of competitive individualists. Using examples primarily from the United States, the chapter challenges the idea that one person, one vote is the least bad way of choosing leaders to enact good policies, rather than provide a comprehensive defense of political meritocracy as an alternative to electoral democracy. It suggests that there may be morally desirable and political feasible alternatives to electoral democracy that help to remedy its major disadvantages. It also discusses examples of actually existing political meritocratic arrangements in China and/or Singapore that may minimize the flaws of electoral democracies.

Keywords:   elections, electoral democracy, electoral democracy, majority, minority, voting community, competitive individualists, tyranny, one vote, political meritocracy

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