Micro-institutions in liberal democracies: what they are and why they matter

Liberal democracies combine core ‘macro-institutions’ (like free elections and control by legislatures) with swarms of supportive ‘micro-institutions’. By contrast, semi-democracies keep only the façade of macro-institutions, subverting a range of critical micro-institutions so as to make political competition and popular control a hollow sham. Drawing on a new book, Patrick Dunleavy explains why these developments mean that political science has to get a lot more granular and sophisticated, instead of focusing just on ‘toy models’.