New paper on the state of our system of representative democracy

Professor David Farrell, UCD School of Politics and International RelationsThe latest issue of West European Politics is dedicated to the late Peter Mair, including a paper by SPIRe’s David Farrell. This paper addresses Mair’s lament about the state of party politics and the future of representative politics itself. Farrell’s paper uses Mair’s thesis to frame a discussion about the state of our representative system of democracy. It starts by setting out his arguments on party and democratic failure. It then considers the question of whether the evidence supports such a perspective, or whether in fact there are signs of adaptability and change. This in turn leads to a discussion about the reform agenda in established representative democracies, with particular attention to the potential of ‘mini-publics’ in enabling a role for ordinary citizens in debates over constitutional reform. The paper concludes by arguing that this reform agenda provides evidence of democracies being reconfigured rather than stripped down.

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