Research Handbook on Democracy and Development
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Research Handbook on Democracy and Development

Edited by Gordon Crawford and Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai

Exploring and updating the controversial debates about the relationship between democracy and development, this Research Handbook provides clarification on the complex and nuanced interlinkages between political regime type and socio-economic development. Distinguished scholars examine a broad range of issues from multidisciplinary perspectives across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
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Chapter 17: Consociational democracy: compromise or collapse?

Allison McCulloch

Abstract

Does consociational democracy exacerbate or alleviate divisions in deeply divided societies? This chapter assesses the mixed performance record of consociational democracy in delivering peace, political stability, and democracy. It explains that consociationalism is characterized by two sets of countervailing incentives, one that encourages cooperation and compromise amongst political elites and one that emboldens brinkmanship, ethnic outbidding and collapse. Drawing examples from a range of deeply divided societies, including Burundi, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon and Northern Ireland, the chapter outlines four criteria for predicting which set of incentives will be activated: the conditions under which consociational rules are adopted, the fit between institutions and the context in which they are applied, the inclusivity of consociational rules, especially for communities beyond the ethnopolitical divide ,and the flexibility of such rules in responding to societal and political change.

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