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Vital DemocracyA Theory of Democracy in Action$
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Frank Hendriks

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572786

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572786.001.0001

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Consensus Democracy

Consensus Democracy

Pacification and Accommodation

Chapter:
(p.66) 4 Consensus Democracy
Source:
Vital Democracy
Author(s):

Frank Hendriks (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572786.003.0005

Consensus democracy refers to a general model of integrative‐indirect democracy, a specific version of which can be found in countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria. Contrary to common belief, it is built on dissensus rather than consensus, on differences in conviction and outlook on life, which need to be carefully integrated. Accommodation and pacification, coalitions and compromises, abound. Leadership is a more moderate and less expressive affair in consensus democracy than it is in pendulum democracy. Citizens play the role of, primarily, spectator and, secondarily, that of consulted party. Critics of consensus democracy focus on the tedious, paternalistic, and expertocratic tendencies, advocates praise the pragmatic, ‘kind and gentle’ collaboration of pluriform elites. In terms of (dis)advantages, consensus democracy is the reverse of pendulum democracy: its core quality is not swift decisiveness but controlled integration, its pitfall not so much over‐commitment as viscosity.

Keywords:   Rhineland, non‐majoritarianism, power sharing, consociationalism, pacification, multipartisan politics, proportional representation, guardian democracy, spectator, regent, guardian democracy, (neo‐)corporatism, collaboration, viscosity

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