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Ruling the Void: The Hollowing of Western Democracy

Ruling the Void: The Hollowing of Western Democracy [Kindle Edition]

Peter Mair
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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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

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Chilling account ofthe end of party democracy, by the leading political scientist

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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Democratic deficit 4 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Not an easy read but well worth the effort. I found it particularly interesting to note Mair's descriptions and criticisms of our new Europe. His main thrust is that the new European model has been deliberately designed and set up in such a way that it keeps all voters at arms length. Very large numbers of generously rewarded Eurocrats are employed to draft and implement legislation in such a way that it regulates us but wherever possible also restricts any opportunity for interference. Perhaps the approach is the only way to manage 27 countries with divergent views and cultures but for anyone who values their right to vote on all matters of national importance its rather disturbing. Highly recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not for entertainment! 29 Jan 2014
By plume
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A good insight for Politics students but too heavy for general interest.
Clarified a number of my suspicions about the EU
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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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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Decline of Democracy 3 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An excellent account of the rise of the Political Class and their management of Britain to the almost total detriment of those who elected them.
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