DescriptionWith 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 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. 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 a way that maintains relative liberty and peace. Whether they succeed in doing so in today's turbulent political climate remains to be seen.
- 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
- 5 Rationality
- 6 Representation, Accountability, and Control over Governments
- 7 Economic Performance
- 8 Economic and Social Equality
- 9 Civil Peace
- 10 Conclusions
- Suggested Readings
"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
"Why Bother with Elections? is vintage Przeworski. Brutally realistic about what we can expect from competitive elections, yet nonetheless inspiring about their value, this book offers one of the most eloquent defences I have seen of the advantages of majoritarianism over the separation-of-powers system that many Americans regard as the bedrock of good governance."
Ian Shapiro, Yale University