This bold venture into political theory and comparative politics combines traditional concerns about democracy with modern analytical methods. It asks how contemporary democracies work, an essential stage in asking how they can be justified. An answer to both questions is found in the idea of the median mandate. The voter in the middle - the voice of the majority - empowers the centre party in parliament to translate his or her preferences into public policy. Themedian mandate provides a unified theory of democracy - pluralist, consensus, majoritarian, liberal, and populist - by replacing each qualified 'vision' with an integrated account of how representative institutions work. The unified theory is put to the test with comprehensive cross-national evidencecovering 21 democracies from 1950 through to 1995. This exciting book will be of interest to specialists and general readers alike, representing as it does a reaffirmation of traditional democratic practice in an uncertain and threatening world. Comparative Politics is a series for students and teachers of political science that deals with contemporary government and politics. The General Editors are Max Kaase, Professor of Political Science, Vice President and Dean, School of Humanities and Social Science, International University, Bremen, Germany; and Kenneth Newton, Professor of Comparative Politics, University of Southampton. The series is published in association with the European Consortium for PoliticalResearch.