authorities,” row, reliance is placed entirely on such ex post mechanisms. Those who entrust authority to others do not expect to direct the power-wielders’ behavior beyond defining official duties. Instead, they expect to limit the abuse of power and control the power-wielders either through a system of checks and balances or through ex post monitoring and imposition of penalties (such as loss of office) when performance is not satisfactory. In the “instrumental agent” row, on the other hand, mechanisms to direct the actions of power wielders ex ante are also employed. Only when the instructions given to agents are not obeyed is there a need for accountability mechanisms.3
We begin with the participation model in the first column of the table. A fundamental principle here is that, ideally, individuals ought to be free to make decisions for themselves, since nobody can both know and care for your interests as well or as much as you do. A second principle is that people should be treated equally. It follows that where collective decisions are required, each person ought to have an equal say. Legitimacy depends upon full participation. Further, public power is legitimate only to the extent that decisions serve the interests of the people as a whole, which is interpreted to mean to the extent that the outcomes of decisions reflect what individuals desire. For these reasons, people with power ought to be accountable to those who are affected by their decisions.
On the basis of these principles, direct democracy could be defended as the ideal form of government, preferable to representative government in principle, though that is impossible in most circumstances for reasons of scale. For this reason, we refer to
3 Pitkin (1967) makes a similar distinction between mandate and independence theories of representation, pp.146-47.