Why Bother With Elections?
Why Bother With Elections?
Why bother with elections? With the collapse of traditional parties around the world and with many pundits predicting a 'crisis of democracy', the value of elections as a method for selecting by whom and how we are governed is being questioned. What are the virtues and weaknesses of elections?  Are there limitations to what they can realistically achieve?
In this deeply-informed and wide-ranging book world-renowned democratic theorist Adam Przeworski offers a warts-and-all analysis of elections and the ways in which they affect our lives. Elections, he argues, are inherently imperfect but they remain the least bad way of choosing our rulers. Even if their imperfections could be addressed, it would be naive to assume they could solve all society's ills. According to Przeworski, the greatest value of elections, by itself sufficient to cherish them, is that they process whatever conflicts may arise in society in relative liberty and peace. Whether they succeed in doing so in today's turbulent political climate remains to be seen.
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  • January 2018
  • 160 pages
  • 138 x 216 mm / 5 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $49.95
  • 9781509526598
  • Paperback $14.95
  • 9781509526604
  • Open eBook $14.95
  • 9781509526635
Table of Contents
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Part I How Elections Work
  • 1 The Idea of Electing Governments
  • 2 Protecting Property
  • 3 Jockeying for Partisan Advantage
  • 4 Conclusion: What Is Inherent in Elections?
  • Part II What Elections Achieve and What Not
  • Introduction
  • 5 Rationality
  • 6 Representation, Accountability, and Control over Governments
  • 7 Economic Performance
  • 8 Economic and Social Equality
  • 9 Civil Peace
  • 10 Conclusions
  • Suggested Readings
  • References
About the Author
Adam Przeworski is Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Politics and (by courtesy) of Economics at New York University.
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"A fascinating analysis of how elections work and their impact on politics.  Covering the 'nitty gritty' of who gets to vote, who stands and who gets elected through to major questions about whether elections reduce economic inequality and civil conflict, Adam Przeworski brilliantly combines historical narrative, normative theory and statistics to provide a thoughtful, insightful and highly engaging read."
Stephen Fisher, University of Oxford

"No one alive knows more about elections than Adam Przeworski or understands better what is at stake in them. This little book distills the hard won political wisdom of a lifetime. It could scarcely be more timely."
John Dunn, University of Cambridge

"Adam Przeworski is brutally realistic about what we can expect from competitive elections, yet nonetheless inspiring about their value. Why Bother with Elections? Is vintage Przeworski. He explores the conditions under which elections best limit the possibilities of tyranny, drawing out the implications for the recent explosions of populism in the established democracies. Despite a sober appreciation of the threats to the quality of democracy, Przeworski makes a convincing case for the resiliance of democatic politics. Along the way he supplies one of the most eloquent defenses I have seen of the advantages of majoritarianism over the separation-of-powers system that many Americand regard as the sine qua non of good governance."
Ian Shapiro, Yale University

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