American democratic practice, France, and Russia: Institutions, values, and alternative democratic experience

Patrick J. McGovern, John P Willerton

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The US emphasis on democratic procedures and property rights profoundly distinguishes the American polity from nearly all consolidated and newly emergent democracies; democracies that place stress on more egalitarian notions of social justice. Interrelating institutional arrangements and democratic values through an application of George Tsebelis's veto players theory and Isaiah Berlin's notions of positive and negative liberty, we juxtapose the American and French democracies as we assess Russia's post-Soviet democratic consolidation. We focus on the policy-making proclivities of these three states, and a combined application of the veto players framework and positive-negative liberty dichotomy reveals a US policy bias toward the status quo as contrasted with a French and Russian system bias facilitating more substantial policy change. The 1993–1995 Clinton health-care initiative, the 1997–2002 Jospin-Left program, with attention to the 35-hour workweek and associated policies, and the 2000–2006 Putin policy agenda, with attention to health care and housing measures, serve as national case studies to illuminate our arguments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-263
Number of pages27
JournalNew Political Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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