American democracy differs greatly from other democracies around the world. But is the American way more or less efficacious than comparable democracies in Asia, Latin America, or Europe? What if the United States had a prime minister instead of (or in additional to) a president, or if it had three or more parties in Congress instead of two? Would there be more partisan animosity and legislative gridlock or less? These are the kinds of questions that thinking about U.S. government in comparative perspective helps us to analyze.
Arend Lijphart is Research Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. His research has focused on the prospects of democracy in ethnically divided societies like Belgium, Lebanon, South Africa, and India, and on different forms of democracy—especially the contrast between majoritarian and consensus democracy and between presidential and parliamentary systems—and their strengths and weaknesses. He is the author or editor of more than twenty books; the most recent are Patterns of Democracy (1999, 2nd ed, 2012), Thinking About Democracy (2008), and A Different Democracy (co-authored with Steven L. Taylor, Matthew S. Shugart, and Bernard Grofman, 2014).
Lijphart received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1963, and was awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Leiden in 2001, Queen’s University Belfast in 2004, and the University of Ghent in 2009. He served as president of the American Political Science Association in 1995-96, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, and the Netherlands Academy of Sciences.
Professor of Political Science, University of California, Davis