Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



democracy, elections, voting


One of the more vexing questions about democracy that is often debated among political theorists, political scientists, and legal scholars is whether the democratic character of mature democracies can be improved. From one view, that of democratic realists, mature democracies are perfected as a matter of definition and as a matter of realistic expectations. Because mature democracies are those that respect core democratic principles, variations outside the core are simply policy differences based upon each democratic polity’s willingness to engage in a different set of trade-offs. For democratic realists, variations in democratic practice that are not related to core democratic principles do not in any way call into question the democratic character of the polity. From another view, that of democratic perfectionists, even among mature democratic states that share core democratic commitments, there exist electoral deficiencies that call into question the democratic character of mature democracies. From the perspective of democratic perfectionists, democracy is a continuum and not a binary condition of either democratic or not. Given that democracy is a more-or-less proposition (as opposed to either-or), it makes sense to talk about perfecting mature democracies as there is a normative ideal vision to perfect toward.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Voting, Elections, Democracy