The majority of contemporary political scientists and constitutional theorists have failed to address legitimate concerns about democracy’s shortcomings. They have tended to view the triumph of liberal political systems over undemocratic regimes in Latin America and Eastern Europe as vindicating current democratic models. The relative paucity of theoretical works on democratic reform since the fall of the Berlin Wall reflect the dominant paradigm that contemporary democratic models are the best we can expect from representative government.
We agree that democracy is the only ethical form of government, yet believe that contemporary democratic models need reform. These reforms must increase the choices available to the electorate, while strengthening the accountability with which officials are held responsible for their decisions. This can be achieved by broadening voter choice from that of a political party or a president to that of individual ministers and ensuring that the tenure of ministers be determined by their merits as ministers. We posit that voters are best suited to judge these merits. We have thus decided to name our proposed model merit democracy.
Merit democracy is an innovative proposal, yet leaves many aspects of political life untouched. We propose that the minister of finance be directly elected, yet the electoral system used to elect legislators may be either winner-take-all or proportional. In our model the head of government’s main role is to assign budgets to ministers, but this head of government can be chosen either by legislators or by the electorate. Merit democracy can therefore be adapted to all political and constitutional contexts.