Meritocratic Democracy: A Cross-Cultural Political Theory

Meritocratic Democracy: A Cross-Cultural Political Theory, forthcoming from Oxford University Press (probably 2024) is the first synthesis of contemporary Eastern meritocratic theories and Confucian democracy with recent Western democratic ideas.

It offers a more nuanced theoretical framework through which the value of democratic institutions can be better understood and shows how Confucian ideas of sound political leadership can be drawn in to address the issues in the current democratic theory of political leadership. Another significant contribution of the book is that it presents the first Confucian approach to party reforms and partisanship.

The monograph focuses on the increasing role of political leaders in democratic politics, the crisis of political parties, and the value of ‘morally good’ political leaders for democratic politics. It engages with these questions through a cross-cultural approach that puts in dialogue ideas and theories sourced from contemporary debates in Confucian and Western political theory. While political leaders are a central topic of discussion in Confucian political theory, they remain under-examined in contemporary Western democratic theory. Likewise, there is no discussion in Confucian democratic theory on the role of political parties in democratic systems. The book’s comparative approach to democracy draws insights from Confucian political theory to clarify the functions of political leaders in democracy and propose new mechanisms at the intra-party level to ensure that political leaders work for democracy, not against it.

The book’s cross-cultural perspective will foster a new approach to normative studies of democratic representation that is more attuned to the global nature of the phenomenon of democracy. Furthermore, it will bring debates on political leaders and political parties forward in Western and Confucian democratic theory.