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Erik Moberg ã:
A Theory of Democratic Politics
 
 

4 - THE MAIN ACTOR CONCEPT

The theory presented here is strongly actor oriented. In particular the concept of main actor is important. A main actor is an actor operating in the legal system. An individual legislator may thus be a main actor, whereas a lobby group is just an actor. Things are however more complicated than this since a legislator is not necessarily a main actor, and also since a political party may be a main actor.

An individual holder of a legal power position is a main actor if he or she enjoys a significant amount of freedom in relation to his or her party. Such a person obviously has a capacity to act, in a real sense, on its own. It is for this reason, and since the person holds a legal power position, that I call such a person a main actor. Even political parties may however be main actors. If, for example, a party controls all its representatives in the legal structure, that party is a main actor (and the representatives are not main actors). The reason is that the party, in contrast to its representatives, enjoys a real freedom of its own. Obviously, however, a party need not necessarily control all its representatives, or none. Other patterns are quite conceivable. A party may, for instance, control some of its representatives, while some other ones may enjoy a considerable freedom. If so these latter representatives are main actors. As long as a party controls at least some of its representatives, to some extent, the party is however also a main actor, as the concept is used here.

A first obvious implication of this definition is that there is no rule saying "one main actor - one vote". A big party which controls all its representatives is for example a main actor with a lot of votes. Another implication is that the number of main actors will be big if the parties are weak and undisciplined, whereas the number will be small if the parties are cohesive and embracing in the sense of controlling all, or at least most, of their representatives. A third implication is that the voting result is known when the positions of all main actors on a particular issue, together with the decision rule, is known. Finally it should perhaps be said that a particular main actor may regularly happen to be a member of defeated minorities. A main actor is therefore not necessarily a powerful actor in this sense.