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Diploma Democracy – The Rise of Political Meritocracy - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Diploma Democracy: The Rise of Political Meritocracy

Mark Bovens and Anchrit Wille


Lay politics lies at the heart of democracy. Political offices are the only offices for which no formal qualifications are required. Contemporary political practices are diametrically opposed to this constitutional ideal. Most contemporary democracies in Western Europe are diploma democracies—ruled by those with the highest formal qualifications. Citizens with low or medium educational qualification levels currently make up about 70 per cent of the electorates, yet they have become virtually absent from almost all political arenas. University graduates have come to dominate all relevant politi ... More

Keywords: democracy, education, diplomas, meritocracy, political divides, political participation, political elites

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2017 Print ISBN-13: 9780198790631
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198790631.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Mark Bovens, author
Professor of Public Administration, Utrecht University School of Governance

Anchrit Wille, author
Associate Professor, Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, Leiden University