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Arend Lijphart

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Arend d'Angremond Lijphart
Born (1936-08-17) 17 August 1936 (age 82)
Apeldoorn, Netherlands
NationalityDutch, American (dual)
Alma materPrincipia College, Yale University
Known forPatterns of Democracy
AwardsPresident of APSA (1995–1996)
Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science (1997)
honorary doctorates from University of Leiden (2001), Queen's University Belfast (2004), Ghent University (2009)
Honorary Fellow of Coventry University (2015)
Scientific career
FieldsPolitical science
InstitutionsUniversity of California, San Diego

Arend d'Angremond Lijphart (born 17 August 1936, Apeldoorn, Netherlands) is a political scientist specializing in comparative politics, elections and voting systems, democratic institutions, and ethnicity and politics. He received his PhD in Political Science at Yale University in 1963, after studying at Principia College from 1955 to 1958. He is currently Research Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. Dutch by birth, he has spent most of his working life in the United States and is an American citizen. He has since regained his Dutch citizenship and is now a dual citizen of both the Netherlands and the United States.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • 12 2 11A 2 Majoritarian vs Consensual Government 13 min
  • Consociationalism
  • 12 3 11A 3 Majoritarian vs Consensual Government cont 16 min


Now, let's look at the specific dimensions of the classic or more perfect models that [UNKNOWN] has delineated between majoritarian and consensus government. [COUGH] and his, and his book on the choice between the systems he identifies the United Kingdom as a classic instance of relatively pure majoritarian democracy. But, of course, recently its resulted in a power sharing coalition and Belgium, or we could have identified the Netherlands, as a case of more pure consensus government. [COUGH]. How do these two models differ? Keep in mind, one veers toward decisiveness and another towards inclusion and diffusion of power. So first we have the dimension of whether one party will be dominating and ruling for a period of time, not indefinably. You have power concentrated in a single party ruling in the executive branch of government. The alternative in the consensus model is power sharing in the grand coalition. Now, keep in mind that can have coherent one-party rule, both in a presidential system, where in the executive branch you elect a president, he brings in his own party, and that's the party that's ruling until that party is voted out of power [COUGH] in a presidential election, or it can be in a parliamentary government. So the first option of one-party cabinets can happen either in a parliamentary, or a presidential system. Executive power sharing is much more common in a parliamentary system [COUGH] particularly one with lots of political parties in parliament where government cannot be formed without a coalition particularly if you want a majority government. However, in a presidential system, if the president and his party are elected with only a small minority of seats in the congress, this may give an incentive to a politically smart and adept president to bring other parties into his presidential administration, into his cabinet. Not because it's constitutionally required, but because he and his party are not going to be able to pass legislation for the four or five years, or whatever it might be of the presidential term, without doing so. And, indeed, this informal level of power sharing, of bringing other parties into a presidential administration to create viable congressional majorities has been the recent norm in Brazil, and has helped to create a situation where the uneasy combination, as I will explain, between a presidential system and a multi-party system with lots of different parties, has been able to work more efficiently. The seconds dimension of difference between a majoritarioan model and a consensus model has to do with the fusion versus the separation of powers. And now we see that in one sense, a parliamentary system may actually have at least the potential to be more majoritarian than a presidential system. Because in a parliamentary system, there is what's called cabinet dominance. and the parliamentary majority really is also the executive majority, whether it's a coalition or a single party. And it's very rare in a parliamentary system and can be a simple deal breaker for government, for the government to lose a vote. And indeed the government in a parliamentary system can specify, that an important matter before the parliament becomes a vote of no confidence. If they don't adopt the governments position, the cabinet's positions the government falls, whereas, in a presidential system their independent powers for the congress and the president. And the president cannot simply will his way to legislation simply because even he has a majority in congress, his own party may defy him. And, of course, there's plenty of opportunity for a different political party in the congress to control one, or it it's a bicameral legislature, both houses of this, of the national legislature. So this can create in more, more diffusion of power in a presidential system than we may see in a parliamentary system. Now keep again, majoritarian model is always toward concentrating power, making government decisive; consensus model, toward diffusing power, making government slower but more inclusive and deliberative. So, the third variable is the structure of the legislature. Is it unicameral or bicameral? If it's bicameral do, do each of the houses of the national legislature, the parliament, the congress, the national assembly, whatever it's called, do they have roughly similar powers or is one house much stronger than the other? If there's a unicameral legislature, there's only one house of parliament. Or, if there is what we call an asymmetric bicameral legislature like the parliament in the United Kingdom, where there's a House of Commons and a House of Lords. But the House of Lords cannot do anything more than delay legislation. Really, it's the House of Commons that's decisive. Or similarly in India, with the Lok Sabha the lower house and then, I believe it's called the Rajya Sabha, the upper house is really only a much weaker and less consequential body. Power is concentrated in the Indian lower house of parliament, not surprisingly, as a former British colony we see here constitutional respects in which many of them India is copying the British model at the time of independence. So, with a unicameral legislature or an asymmetric bicameral legislature, power tends to be more concentrated. When you have two houses of a national assembly, each with relatively, if not identical, then relatively balanced powers, you have the possibility that different pa-, parties may control or different coalitions of parties may control the two different branches. And the more that the bran-, the two different houses of parliament, the more the two houses of parliament are equal in their powers, the more this diffuses power. Next variable, the structure of the party system. Do we have two parties or many parties. And again, when I say two parties or many parties, I'm talking about, in the technical, political science sense, relevant parties. Parties that are large enough in their share of the vote and large enough in their presence in the parliament, to be able to affect the formation of a cabinet, in a parliamentary system, or the ability of a ruling party or a dominant party in a house of the legislature to pass legislation. And, you know, what percentage of the seats in the National Assembly does it take to be relevant. Well, that depends on how fine the balance is between the parties. 5% may not matter very much, if 1 party has 65% and the other 30%. but if you've got 2 political parties, each with about 43% of the vote [COUGH] and then a number of smaller parties, even 2 or 3% of the seats in a house of congress may matter a great deal. So when you have pretty much a two party system, that is a product of, as we'll see in a minute in the electoral system, but also a contributor to a majoritarian dynamic. You got, basically two parties, that account for all or virtually all of the seats, in the congress or parliament. And one of them's going to be in the majority, and one of them's going to be in minority. Now if there are only two parties, and there's only one house of parliament, then you can see how that is likely to produce a majority, logically. But if there are multiple political parties or even just a bicameral legislature then there's more likelihood of multiple political parties being politically powerful or consequential. And the more you have multiple elements here the more you get truly diffused power, the need of different actors to come together, smaller political actors matter, you have the consensus model of government. By the same token, we can ask the question, is there a one dimensional party system, or a multi-dimensional party system? If the party system is configured on a single dimension, ideology, left, right, it's at least easier to form coalitions. You go out from the middle, which is probably where the larger parties are going to lie, and you reach a little one way or the other toward the extremes or the more ideological committed parties to get your coalition partners. Or in Germany, you have a party to the left, the social democrats, a party to the right, the Christian democrats. You reach perhaps in the middle for the free democrats for the coalition partner that can lean one way or the other. That makes coalition formation obviously simpler and may [COUGH] somewhat minimize the number of coalition partners. A predominant political party needs in a parliamentary system to form a government. But if you have multiple dimensions of identity or affiliation that shape the party system, so in Israel it may be left, right. It may be attitudes on territories. It may be attitudes on religious versus secular on economic issues between people who want a more protecting state in the social sense and people want a more libertarian state. It gets much more complicated to form a coalition government, and again, you are more likely to move in the direction of consensus.


Major works

Lijphart is the leading authority on consociationalism, or the ways in which segmented societies manage to sustain democracy through power-sharing. Lijphart developed this concept in his first major work, The Politics of Accommodation, a study of the Dutch political system, and further developed his arguments in Democracy in Plural Societies.

His later work has focused on the broader contrasts between majoritarian and "consensus" democracies. While Lijphart advocated consociationalism primarily for societies deeply divided along ethnic, religious, ideological, or other cleavages, he sees consensus democracy as appropriate for any society with a consensual political culture.[1] In contrast to majoritarian democracies, consensus democracies have multiparty systems, parliamentarism with oversized (and therefore inclusive) cabinet coalitions, proportional electoral systems, corporatist (hierarchical) interest group structures, federal structures, bicameralism, rigid constitutions protected by judicial review, and independent central banks. These institutions ensure, firstly, that only a broad supermajority can control policy and, secondly, that once a coalition takes power, its ability to infringe on minority rights is limited.

In Patterns of Democracy (1999, 2nd ed., 2012), Lijphart classifies thirty-six democracies using these attributes. He finds consensus democracies to be "kinder, gentler" states, having lower incarceration rates, less use of the death penalty, better care for the environment, more foreign aid work, and more welfare spending – qualities he feels "should appeal to all democrats".[2] He also finds that consensus democracies have a less abrasive political culture, more functional business-like proceedings, and a results-oriented ethic. The 2012 edition included data up to 2010 and found proportional representation (PR) was vastly superior for the "quality of democracy", being statistically significantly better for 19 of 19 indicators. On the issue of “effective government” 16 out of 17 indicators pointed to PR as superior, with 9 out of 17 statistically significant. These results held up when controlling for the level of development and population size.

Lijphart has also made influential contributions to methodological debates within comparative politics, most notably through his 1971 article 'Comparative politics and the comparative method', published in the American Political Science Review.[3]


In 1989, Lijphart was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and from 1995 to 1996 served as President of the American Political Science Association.[4] In 1993 he became foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.[5] He was awarded the prestigious Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science in 1997.[6]



  • The Trauma of Decolonization: The Dutch & West New Guinea. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966.
  • The Politics of Accommodation. Pluralism and Democracy in the Netherlands, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968.
  • Democracy in Plural Societies: A Comparative Exploration. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977. ISBN 0-300-02494-0.
  • Democracies: Patterns of Majoritarian & Consensus Government in Twenty-one Countries. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984. ISBN 0-300-03182-3.
  • Power-Sharing in South Africa. Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, University of California, 1985. ISBN 0-87725-524-5.
  • Grofman, Bernard, and Lijphart, Arend (eds.). Electoral Laws & Their Political Consequences. New York: Agathon Press, 1986. ISBN 0-87586-074-5.
  • Electoral Systems and Party Systems: A Study of Twenty-Seven Democracies, 1945–1990. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. ISBN 0-19-828054-8.
  • Lijphart, Arend, and Waisman, Carlos H. (eds.). Institutional Design in New Democracies. Boulder: Westview, 1996. ISBN 0-8133-2109-3.
  • Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms & Performance in Thirty-six Countries. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-300-07893-5
  • Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms & Performance in Thirty-six Countries, Second Edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012. ISBN 9780300172027
  • Grofman, Bernard and Lijphart, Arend (eds.). The Evolution of Electoral & Party Systems in the Nordic Countries. New York: Agathon Press. ISBN 0-87586-138-5.

Journal articles

Further reading


  1. ^ Lijphart, Arend (1999). Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07893-5.
  2. ^ Lijphart, Arend (1999). Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. p. 293. ISBN 0-300-07893-5.
  3. ^ Lijphart, Arend (1971). "Comparative politics and the comparative method". American Political Science Review. The American Political Science Review, Vol. 65, No. 3. 65 (3): 682–693. doi:10.2307/1955513. JSTOR 1955513.
  4. ^ "Arend Lijphart". Department of Political Science, University of California at San Diego. Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 22 August 2008.
  5. ^ "Arend Lijphart". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  6. ^ "Johan Skytte Prize winners". Skytte Foundation, Uppsala University. Archived from the original on 21 October 2008. Retrieved 23 August 2008.

External links

This page was last edited on 3 December 2018, at 20:02
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