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Competitive party democracy and the Keynesian welfare state: Factors of stability and disorganization

Abstract

This article addresses the question of what makes democratic political organization and capitalist economic organization mutually compatible on the macro-sociological level, and what has, more specifically, led to the absence of manifest tension between those two organizing principles in the post-World War II era in Western Europe. A hypothetical answer is provided, namely that the organization of mass participation through a competitive party system makes democracy safe for capitalism and that Keynesianism and the welfare state makes capitalism safe for democracy. The question of the extent to which one can expect the continuity of those arrangements under the conditions of political and economic crisis is then explored on a theoretical level. As a skeptical answer to this question, a number of factors are systematically discussed which seem to subvert both party competition as the dominant mode of mass participation and welfare-Keynesianism as the prevalent mode of economic policy.

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Offe, C. Competitive party democracy and the Keynesian welfare state: Factors of stability and disorganization. Policy Sci 15, 225–246 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00136826

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Keywords

  • Economic Crisis
  • Economic Policy
  • Welfare State
  • Dominant Mode
  • Political Organization