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Liberalism, Populism, and Collective Choice

Benjamin Radcliff
Political Research Quarterly
Vol. 46, No. 1 (Mar., 1993), pp. 127-142
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. on behalf of the University of Utah
DOI: 10.2307/449060
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/449060
Page Count: 16
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Liberalism, Populism, and Collective Choice
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Abstract

This paper examines how the problem of cyclical majorities affects the logical structure of the liberal model of democracy. I argue that Riker's (1982) defense of liberalism is unsatisfying in that it ultimately depends upon the hope that cycles are not common events. As an alternative solution, I propose that the assumptions of a properly construed liberal model imply conditions that prohibit the occurrence of the voter's paradox. I conclude that liberalism continues to survive despite the fact that its internal structure depends upon the transitivity of collective preferences, and that this fact in turn provides a theoretical foundation for pursuing more robust or "populistic" conceptions of democracy.

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