Arend Lijpharts Democracies Essay Research Paper An

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Arend Lijpharts Democracies Essay, Research Paper An Analysis of Lijphart s Democracies A government by the people or, democracy, is an ideal rather than a precise form of governmental procedures and goals. Arend Lijphart s Democracies is a comparison of the two basic models of democracy: majoritarian (or Westminster) and consensus. Each of these models use a different approach at how to best represent the people. Is it more democratic to delegate policy-making power to the majority only or is it better to include minorities, as well? The majoritarian model holds that majority rule comes closer to the democratic ideal than a government responsive to a minority. On the other hand, the consensus model contends that majority rule and the government vs. opposition pattern of

government may be undemocratic because it is exclusionary. In any case, most political scientists have favored stability over other political objectives in a democracy, and the majoritarian is generally considered the more stable approach. The first half of this analysis will differentiate between the ideal-typical majoritarian and consensus models in detail, while the second half will offer reasons why the majoritarian model should not necessarily be encouraged in all of the world s advanced industrial democracies, given that stability is the primary objective. The Majoritarian Model Lipjhart states, “an ideal democratic government would be one whose actions were always in perfect correspondence with the preferences of all its citizens.” (Lijphart, 1). Such an ideal is, of

course, impossible, but it can serve as an ideal to which democratic regimes should aspire. The majoritarian model responds to this ideal by simply granting power to the majority. The British version of this model is both the original and best-known example of this model. Lijphart lists the following nine elements of majoritarianism: 1. Concentration of executive power: one party and bare majority cabinets This provides a ruling cabinet consisting of majority party parliamentary members. Thus, minority parties are not included and take on the role of opposition parties. 2. Fusion of power and cabinet dominance In order to rule, the cabinet is dependent on the confidence of parliament since its members can be removed by a legislative vote of no confidence. However, this rarely

occurs in a country with a two-party system since the majority party in parliament would have to vote out its own leaders. 3. Asymmetric bicameralism This can loosely be interpreted as near unicameralism. In the British case, this is seen by the clear dominance of the House of Commons over the House of Lords. 4. Two-party system 5. One-dimensional party system Socioeconomic policy disagreement is the most typical dimension dividing policy-makers. This is not usually considered destabilizing, being an issue that does not endanger the hegemony of the two parties. 6. Plurality system of elections The single-member district electoral system is used, where the candidate with the majority vote or, if there is no majority, with the largest minority wins. 7. Unitary and centralized

government Local governments exist and perform important functions but they are subservient to the state and their powers are not constitutionally guaranteed. 8. Unwritten constitution and parliamentary sovereignty The composition and powers of a government and its citizens rights are defined by basic laws, customs, and conventions rather than a written constitution. 9. Exclusionary representative democracy This does not allow for direct democracy through referendums. The Consensus Model According to Lijphart, the consensus model responds to the democratic ideal with “rules and institutions aiming at broad participation in government and broad agreement on the policies that the government should pursue.” (Lijphart, 5). It holds that all people who are affected by a decision