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Ruling The Void: The Hollowing Of Western Democracy [Paperback]

Peter Mair
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 13.22 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

8 Jun 2013
In the long-established democracies of Western Europe, electoral turnouts are in decline, membership is shrinking in the major parties, and those who remain loyal partisans are sapped of enthusiasm. Peter Mair’s new book weighs the impact of these changes, which together show that, after a century of democratic aspiration, electorates are deserting the political arena. Mair examines the alarming parallel development that has seen Europe’s political elites remodel themselves as a homogeneous professional class, withdrawing into state institutions that offer relative stability in a world of fickle voters. Meanwhile, non-democratic agencies and practices proliferate and gain credibility—not least among them the European Union itself, an organization contributing to the depoliticization of the member states and one whose notorious ‘democratic deficit’ reflects the deliberate intentions of its founders.

Ruling the Void
offers an authoritative and chilling assessment of the prospects for popular political representation today, not only in the varied democracies of Europe but throughout the developed world.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (8 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844673243
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844673247
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 13.7 x 0.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


The age of party democracy has passed. Although the parties themselves remain, they have become so disconnected from the wider society, and pursue a form of competition that is so lacking in meaning, that they no longer seem capable of sustaining democracy in its present form. --Peter Mair, from the introduction to Ruling the Void

About the Author

Peter Mair (1951–2011) was one of the leading political scientists of his generation. He studied at University College Dublin and the University of Leiden, and worked at universities in Ireland, the U.K., the Netherlands and Italy, finally becoming Professor of Comparative Politics at the European University Institute, Florence. His books include Party System Change and, with Stefano Bartolini, Identity, Competition and Electoral Availability.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An important book for those who naively consider modern political parties to be a vehicle for transforming the aspirations of the wider of the community into actuality. Mair explains how they formed to do exactly that, but have morphed into the means of governing the population on behalf of the state. With this transformation, 'democracy', as popularly conceived, has become a practically meaningless concept.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Excellent evaluation of the challenges faced by Western political parties and representative democracy more generally: increasing electoral volatility, declining mass membership and so on. Mair is not an optimist, as exemplified by the first line of the book: 'The age of party democracy has passed'.
The first three chapters extend upon his essay in the New Left Review (42, november 2006) ([...] the latter chapters combine several sections of work published earlier in various working papers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good 4 Mar 2014
By whacker
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Good and interesting. However it obviously was not not completed by the original author. This leaves it a little lop-sided, with a feeling that more needs to be added.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening 25 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Confirms what we suspected was happening to Western democracy very succinctly. It should be made compulsory reading for our UK politicians.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A frightening book 13 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If all the facts are true it is a frightening account of what is happening. We all thought that European Communism
dismantled with the Berlin wall and all that really happened is that it moved location to Brussels.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Written by a respected academic, Ruling the Void is an in-depth analysis of the gradual separation of political parties and their former members, with a dramatic effect on democracy. The connection between politicians and party members has withered so that politicians cease to represent these members, and government policy no longer relates to the views of the electorate, but is formulated by parts of government machinery. The book should be read by all those who are concerned for the future of democracy in Britain and Western Europe.
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