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A Happy Couple Drifting Apart? Taking Stock of “Consociationalism” and “Federalism” in an Ever-Growing Power-Sharing Universe

Comparative Politics
Democracy
Elites
Federalism
Institutions
Rahel Freiburghaus
Universität Bern
Rahel Freiburghaus
Universität Bern
Adrian Vatter
Universität Bern

Abstract

Ever since Arend Lijphart’s and Daniel J. Elazar’s seminal symposium in 1985, “consociationalism” and “federalism” have been rallied under the common flag of power-sharing. In a nutshell, both governing principles refer to an attempt of manufacturing democratic stability against the odds of deeply divided societies by means of minority protection and compound majorities. However, given the enormous scholarly output as well as the concepts’ extension to growingly diverse cases, their actual meaning just as their inherent relationship have become blurred. Following Giovanni Sartori’s advice for “restructuring” political science terms, this paper thus takes stock of the many applications of “consociationalism” and “federalism” spanning nearly 40 years. Thereupon, different types of the two governing principle’s loose or tight coupling are induced first, ere anchored in a “typical case”-analysis of empirical manifestations. By systematically reviewing the existing literature within the power-sharing universe, the paper helps to sketch emerging avenues for future research.