How popular democracy has paradoxically eroded trust in political systems worldwide, and how to restore confidence in democratic politics
Democracies across the world are adopting reforms to bring politics closer to the people. Parties have turned to primaries and local caucuses to select candidates. Ballot initiatives and referenda allow citizens to enact laws directly. Many democracies now use proportional representation, encouraging smaller, more specific parties rather than two dominant ones. Yet voters keep getting angrier. There is a steady erosion of trust in politicians, parties, and democratic institutions, culminating most recently in major populist victories in the United States, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. Frances Rosenbluth and Ian Shapiro argue that devolving power to the grass roots is part of the problem, not the solution. Efforts to decentralize political decision‑making make governments and especially political parties less effective and less able to address constituents' long‑term interests. To revive confidence in governance, we must restructure our political systems to restore power to the core institution of representative democracy: the political party.