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2007 | 10 | 94-120

Article title

Three models of a democratic state


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The theory of a deliberative, democratic state posited by Jurgen Habermas fills the gaps in the concepts of democracy proper to liberalism and republicanism. Habermas' theory intermediates between the liberal and the republican models, avoiding the one-sidedness to which they tend. A deliberative state ruled by law is based on a discursive forming of the will (active participation in the political, social and cultural sphere), the essence of which is communicative rationality, setting out the framework of a democratic procedure legitimising the rightfully made law and a law-abiding state. Communicative rationality guarantees that all the important interests will be accounted for. In this model, the public space, in turn, is perceived and understood as a possibility whereby all the stakeholders are able to create procedures. In his theory of liberalism, Habermas refers to a higher level of intersubjectivity where the communication processes occurs, which leads on the one hand to the institutionalising of deliberations, in the form of political bodies, and on the another hand, to the establishing of an informal network of linkages in the public sphere. Contrary to the liberal and republican model, the deliberative model of a democratic, law-governed state is focussed on the discursive legitimisation of the law, while politics here is understood as a public activity being played out in the interpersonal sphere. In such politics, the attention is displaced from the final act of voting to the process of agreeing the rules and arriving at an agreement.


  • R. Wonicki, Instytut StudiĆ³w Politycznych PAN, ul. Polna 18/20, 00-625 Warszawa, Poland


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Publication order reference


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