Gladden Pappin in the most recent issue of American Affairs:
Maurice Glasman, a Labour life peer in the United Kingdom, recently outlined the argument for transforming the House of Lords into an institution for corporate representation. Such a transformation would emphasize the importance of corporate and group identity in the population as a whole. The government would then have one body reflecting regional loyalties and another reflecting functional loyalty. In Glasman’s proposal, the House of Lords would represent “vocational democracy” while the House of Commons would be “locational democracy.”41 “There should be people elected from each sector,” Glasman wrote, “whether that be electrical or academic, medical or administrative. . . . It would give an incentive to the organisation of carers, builders and gardeners, who would each select a representative from within their organisation.” Representatives of major religions should also give voice to the concerns of their various confessions, not resulting in a state establishment of religion but rather a corporate recognition of the contributions of major religions. In this way, corporatism aims to relieve some of the pressure felt by today’s “identity politics,” but through formal public expression and negotiation, rather than adversarial competition for scarce political opportunities.
Two modern democracies already employ forms of corporate political representation: Hong Kong through its functional constituency system, and Ireland through its vocational panels. The Senate of Ireland was established in accordance with the 1937 Constitution of Ireland, and consists of eleven senators selected by the Taoiseach, six senators nominated by Irish universities, and forty-three senators elected by five vocational panels. The vocational panels represent the leading corporate interests in Irish society, divided among an Administrative Panel, Agricultural Panel, Cultural and Educational Panel, Industrial and Commercial Panel, and a Labour Panel. Unfortunately, the Senate of Ireland was established with only limited oversight powers, primarily as a sop to the Catholic corporatism promoted by Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo anno (1931) and which was also in vogue across other corporatist countries. In Hong Kong, of the seventy seats in its Legislative Council, thirty are elected by functional constituencies (agriculture, education, medical, etc.) whose constituents include registered members as well as key organizations.
Forms of corporatist economic organization are yet more common. In a typical corporatist economic arrangement, group interests are organized into large associations and those associations are coordinated with and through the state. Corporatist economic arrangements do not necessarily require political representation, and flourish in many major democracies—with Austria, Finland, the Netherlands, and Slovenia all maintaining a high degree of corporatist arrangement in recent decades. Denmark, Luxembourg, Singapore, and Slovakia have all become more corporatist in recent years, while Belgium, Germany, Norway, and South Africa have maintained their high levels of corporatism. The United States, UK, and Canada are outliers from the rest of Western democracies in this respect.42
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