Is consociational democracy more democratic than majoritarian democracy? To be able to answer such a question, we firstly need to explore the meaning of the word democracy. After having done so, I will investigate the origins of consociational democracy, by looking at the man that coined the term; this will be followed by a few paragraphs analysing the positive and negative characteristics of consociational democracy. Once this type of democracy is fully understood, I will examine majoritarian democracy; in this section I will, similarly to consociational democracy, look at the most important characteristics of this model.
After having recognized both democracy's, it will be necessary to interlink them to reach a reasonable conclusion; I this section of the essay I will bring into consideration some view of political theorist Arend Lijphart. In conclusion I will produce a small overview of both consociational and majoritarian democracy, which will lead (hopefully), to the answer of our initial question. Ancient Greece is given credit for inventing democracy. The Greeks were the first to break with the Asian tradition of totalitarian rule; this lead to states gradually converting to democratic governments.
It is believed that the word democracy comes from the Greek word demos-kratos, demos meaning people and kratos as power. By joining the two we find 'power to the people'. Probably the greatest American president, Abraham Lincoln, famously describes the term of 'democracy' as the 'government of the people, by the people, for the people'1. This famous sentence can be interpreted as us, as citizens, govern our day to day life through parties that reflect our wellbeing, we do this by choosing the politician that we believe can bring us further interests.
Furthermore we have the right to inculpate and hold the person responsible for their actions. There are many different types of democracy, and as with all things in life there are positive and negative attributes. A positive factor of democracy is the pluralism and compromise; this means that the society is open to debates and negotiations which means that differences within the democratic society are shown therefore there is an acknowledgment of diversity.
Another positive attribute of democracy is the freedom on speech, movement and expression within a society, as these make an individual grow. As with all things, there are positive and negative views regarding a certain subject. Fareed Zakaria, in his book 'The future of freedom', looks at freedom within a democracy. He strongly believes that some of the characteristics of democracy are not compatible within certain environments. He continues by stating that 'if these features of democracy are applied in cultures not originally defined by liberty can lead to oppressive regimes such as tyranny…
'2 The Consociational theory was born as an explanation of the political stability of socially divided European democracies, where one would expect instability. Arend Lijphart describes consociational democracy as a 'government by elite cartel designed to turn a democracy with a fragment political culture into a stable democracy'. 3 The major themes of Arend Lijphart theory are that of grand coalition, proportionality, segmental autonomy and minority veto.
In this section we will be looking at what I believe are the most important characteristics: the ground coalition and the executive power sharing. A grand coalition enables political leaders of all the segments of the plural society to jointly govern the country. 4 Politics, supplies debates and conflicts between individuals, thus the stability of a separated society depends on whether the rivals are willing to compromise instead of a clash; therefore ground coalition is used to prevent cultural diversity to escalate into a conflict.
The economist Sir Arthur Lewis states that 'all who are affected by a decision should have the chance to participate in making the decision, as to exclude losing groups from participation clearly violates the primary meaning of democracy'. 5 By looking at Sir Arthurs Lewis statement, we can accept the theory of grand coalition, and therefore consociatonal democracy can be said to be democratic. Arend Lijphart argues that the building of absolute majorities to be able to resolve upon crucial matters, is most likely to be impossible.
In these kind of situations, or crises, the theory of grand coalition works extremely efficiently as a tool to create consensus and to speed up the process of decision making. After stating this, we need to consider that Lijphart model of grand coalition overlooks upon the environment of a plural society, and this is a response to existing preferences and incentives. One of the most important characteristics of a grand coalition is that it serves do reduce and then eliminate possible exclusions of ethnic minorities within the society.