12. Dahl

“The Polyarchy, participation and opposition”

In 1971 Robert A. Dahl published his 1st edition of “The Polyarchy, participation and opposition” where he defines a set of rules that a Government System must comply with to constitute a Polyarchy. In this way, it defines a minimum quality level to be achieved by the conjunction of the idiosyncrasy of each society with its system of government.

In a polyarchy citizens must be able to:

  • Formulate your preferences.
  • Express those preferences to others and to government through individual or collective action.
  • Achieve that their own preferences are considered equally, without discrimination as to their content or origin.

In a polyarchy, the State must guarantee:

  • Freedom of association and organization
  • Freedom of thought and expression
  • The right to active and passive suffrage
  • The right to compete for electoral support
  • Alternative sources of accessible information
  • Free and fair periodic elections, which produce limited mandates
  • Existence of institutions that control and make government policies depend on voting and other expressions of preferences.

In practice the Polyarchy is structured through 4 mechanisms:

  1. Rule of law
  2. Powers Division
  3. Alternation in Power
  4. Selection Method (of Authorities / Representatives / Policies / Laws)

3 types of Polyarchies can be differentiated according to their Selection Method:

  1. Democratic Polyarchy: its selection method is the application of the “Rule of the Majority”.
  2. Optocratic Polyarchy: its selection method is the citizen’s choice between 2 or 3 alternatives that are independent of each other and coexist within the country.
  3. Probabilistic Polyarchy: The elections are held. The scrutiny is carried out and the proportion of votes that each candidate receives is determined. A probability of occurrence is assigned to each candidate equal to the proportion of the votes obtained. With these parameters, a draw is held among the candidates. The winner of the draw is designated as the candidate for the position.
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