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date: 20 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses four basic mechanisms by which the expenditure of money can influence the political system: money for votes, money as gatekeeper, money as means for influencing public and legislative opinion, and money as independent political power. These four basic mechanisms correspond roughly to the four basic aspects of the democratic process. The first relates to the process of law and policymaking, the second to the setting of the agenda of this decision making, the third to the formation of opinion and preference, and the fourth to the independent social and economic constraints on successful policymaking. The article discusses the basic normative issues that arise for each of these mechanisms: corruption, inefficiency, distortion of the deliberative process, and political inequality. It then addresses some questions about the importance of political equality in assessing these mechanisms and the conflicts between political equality and free expression.

Keywords: political system, democratic process, corruption, inefficiency, deliberative process, political equality

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