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Photo: “Booths at Ethete Polling Station“, by WyoFile WyoFile, licensed under CC BY 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Little, Daniel. “Electoral Democracy.” In A New Social Ontology of Government, pp. 111-123. Palgrave Pivot, Cham, 2020.


Government within a democracy is expected to reflect the will of the people. However, the institutional arrangements of liberal democracy create the possibility of significant lack of alignment between government action and the public good. The political power of the electorate is offset by the political power and influence wielded by interested parties. Lobbying, corporate influence on legislation and regulation, manipulation of the electoral process by incumbents, internet-based interference in elections, and a mismatch of resources between the public and the powerful insiders who exercise influence on government lead to government actions that diverge from the ideal described in the ideal theory of democracy. These features of the institutions of democracy are joined by the phenomenon of citizen disaffection, produced by declining economic opportunities and the rise of populist parties with an interest in creating an environment of division and hostility. The institutions and realities of representative electoral democracy represent important aspects of the ontology of government.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.