From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"In his book Political Parties, written in 1911, Robert Michels argues that most representative democracies deteriorate towards an oligarchy or particracy. This is known as the iron law of oligarchy." --Sholem Stein
"The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots. The demaslave is one who listens to what these idiots have to say and then pretends that he believes it himself. Every man who seeks elective office under democracy has to be either the one thing or the other, and most men have to be both." --Notes on Democracy by H. L. Mencken
"Socrates in Gorgias warns against the dangers of demagoguery by asking us to imagine an election debate attended by little boys. The contestants are a physician who administers bitter potions and a 'sweet shop owner' who hands out candy. He predicts that the candy man would win."--Sholem Stein
Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local government. This process is also used in many other private and business organisations, from clubs to voluntary associations and corporations.
The global use of elections as a tool for selecting representatives in modern representative democracies is in contrast with the practice in the democratic archetype, ancient Athens, where the elections were considered an oligarchic institution and most political offices were filled using sortition, also known as allotment, by which officeholders were chosen by lot.
Electoral reform describes the process of introducing fair electoral systems where they are not in place, or improving the fairness or effectiveness of existing systems. Psephology is the study of results and other statistics relating to elections (especially with a view to predicting future results). Election is the fact of electing, or being elected.
- Multi-party system
- Pluralism (political philosophy)
- Political polarization
- Political science