Party Elites in Divided Societies: Political Parties in Consociational Democracy

By Kurt Richard Luther; Kris Deschouwer | Go to book overview
Save to active project


The utility of party and institutional indicators of change in consociational democracies 1

Paul Pennings


The bulk of this volume is concerned with the degree and nature of change in the four West European countries which have figured prominently in the literature on consociationalism. Using as his point of departure Lijphart’s early theory (Lijphart 1968a, 1968b and 1969), Luther (1992, 1997b and Chapter 1 of this volume) has deduced the role which parties and party systems might be expected to play in consociational democracies. These roles are then examined in five single-country studies and three comparative chapters. Luther explicitly rules out Lijphart’s later work, in which he extended his focus to embrace a much wider range of countries and of political phenomena and developed a distinction between ‘majoritarian’ and ‘consensus’democracies (Lijphart 1984a:1-36 and 207-22).

However, the aim of this chapter is to examine specifically the latest manifestation of Lijphart’s theory and to seek to establish the extent to which it is useful in determining the degree and nature of political change. Such an examination offers a useful addition to this volume, since the precise operationalisation of the concept of consensus democracy which Lijphart offers should facilitate the analysis of change. The main research question of this chapter is whether Lijphart’s operationalisation of consensus democracy can be improved by introducing indicators that are related to party behaviour.

Consensus democracy is the term that Lijphart uses for democracies in which power-sharing is the main institutional feature of long-term politics (Lijphart 1984a). Lijphart insists on distinguishing between the newer term ‘consensus democracy’ and the older term ‘consociationalism’. The latter term focuses on the societal structure that allegedly necessitates coalescent behaviour for effective political decision-making and that can be explained as a form of sociological functionalism. 2 Consensus democracy, on the other hand, focuses on the political institutions per se which facilitate effective decision-making under adversarial societal conditions and can be viewed as a form of institutional engineering (Keman 1996:212). In his suggestions as to how to operationalise consensus democracy, Lijphart is more explicit than he was when outlining the nature of consociationalism. He argues that the latter refers to four general mechanisms


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Party Elites in Divided Societies: Political Parties in Consociational Democracy


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 292

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?