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The Peformance of Democracies (PERDEM)
Start date: May 1, 2014, End date: Apr 30, 2019 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"This project will use an institutional approach to answer the question why some democracies perform better than others. Democratic systems can be institutionalized in innumerous ways given variation in for example party system, electoral system, type of public administration, judicial control and type of legal system, degree of lobbyism, degree of decentralization, rules for the public budget, possibilities to use referendums, the power of the executive and so on. This huge variation in the institutional configuration of existing democracies will be used for developing a theory for explaining the difference in democracies ability to perform. The motive for this project is the following: Democracy as an overall model for how societies should be governed must be seen as a remarkable success. Over the last centuries, several waves of democracy have swept over the globe, bringing representative democracy to places where it seemed inconceivable fifty, or even twenty-five years ago. There are certainly many reasons to be enthusiastic about this historically remarkable development. However, this enthusiasm is dampened by three things. One is that empirical research shows that there is only a very weak, or none, or sometimes even negative, correlation between established measures of human well-being and measures of the level of democracy. For example, communist-authoritarian China now outperforms liberal democratic India on almost all measures of population health. The second reason is that a number of democracies turn out to have severe difficulties managing their public finances in a sustainable way. The third problem is that democracy seems not to be cure against pervasive corruption. In fact, many authoritarian countries turn out to be less corrupt than many democratic ones. Empirical research shows that these problems have severe consequences for citizens’ perception of the legitimacy of their political system."
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