The Quality of Democracy: A Skeptical Afterword

Issue Date October 2004
Volume 15
Issue 4
Page Numbers 106-10
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Noble and sensible motives have led political scientists to begin to focus on the quality of democracy, but this area of study raises questions that lead to the deepest regions of political philosophy and are not easily resolvable within the boundaries of empirical political science. Studies of the quality of democracy face two principal complications: First, modern democracy has a composite nature, and its liberal and majoritarian aspects are frequently in conflict with each other. Second, democracy is a form of government, and maximizing democracy may be in tension with effective governance. On the practical level, there is a danger that assessments of the quality of democracy may be distorted by the political biases of the assessors.

About the Author

Marc F. Plattner is a member of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) Board of Directors. He was on the NED staff from 1984 until 2020, serving first as the director of the grants program. In 1989, he became founding coeditor (with Larry Diamond) of the Journal of Democracy. He later served as codirector of the International Forum for Democratic Studies and as NED’s vice-president for research and studies.

View all work by Marc F. Plattner