Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Patterns of Democracy

Patterns of Democracy

Arend Lijphart
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 368
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32bg23
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Patterns of Democracy
    Book Description:

    In this updated and expanded edition of his classic text, Arend Lijphart offers a broader and deeper analysis of worldwide democratic institutions than ever before. Examining thirty-six democracies during the period from 1945 to 2010, Lijphart arrives at important-and unexpected-conclusions about what type of democracy works best.

    Praise for the previous edition:

    "Magnificent. . . . The best-researched book on democracy in the world today."-Malcolm Mackerras,American Review of Politics

    "I can't think of another scholar as well qualified as Lijphart to write a book of this kind. He has an amazing grasp of the relevant literature, and he's compiled an unmatched collection of data."-Robert A. Dahl, Yale University

    "This sound comparative research . . . will continue to be a standard in graduate and undergraduate courses in comparative politics."-Choice

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18912-4
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Preface to the Second Edition
    (pp. IX-XIV)
  4. Preface to the First Edition
    (pp. XV-XX)
  5. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    There are many ways in which, in principle, a democracy can be organized and run; in practice, too, modern democracies exhibit a variety of formal governmental institutions, like legislatures and courts, as well as political party and interest group systems. However, clear patterns and regularities appear when these institutions are examined from the perspective of how majoritarian or how consensual their rules and practices are. The majoritarianism-consensus contrast arises from the most basic and literal definition of democracy—government by the people or, in representative democracy, government by the representatives of the people—and from President Abraham Lincoln’s famous further...

  6. Chapter 2 The Westminster Model of Democracy
    (pp. 9-29)

    In this book I use the termWestminster modelinterchangeably withmajoritarian modelto refer to a general model of democracy. It may also be used more narrowly to denote the main characteristics ofBritishparliamentary and governmental institutions (G. Wilson 1994; Mahler 1997)—the Parliament of the United Kingdom meets in the Palace of Westminster in London. The British version of the Westminster model is both the original and the best-known example of this model. It is also widely admired. Richard Rose (1974, 131) points out that, “with confidence born of continental isolation, Americans have come to assume that...

  7. Chapter 3 The Consensus Model of Democracy
    (pp. 30-45)

    The majoritarian interpretation of the basic definition of democracy is that it means “government by themajorityof the people.” It argues that majorities should govern and that minorities should oppose. This view is challenged by the consensus model of democracy. As the Nobel Prize–winning economist Sir Arthur Lewis (1965, 64–65) has forcefully pointed out, majority rule and the government-versus-opposition pattern of politics that it implies may be interpreted as undemocratic because they are principles of exclusion. Lewis states that the primary meaning of democracy is that “all who are affected by a decision should have the chance...

  8. Chapter 4 Thirty-Six Democracies
    (pp. 46-59)

    The remainder of this book is a systematic comparison of the thirty-six countries (with populations of at least a quarter of a million) that were democratic in the middle of 2010 and that had been continuously democratic since 1989 or earlier. Each democracy is analyzed from its first democratic election in or after 1945 until June 30, 2010; the time span for the thirty-six democracies varies from sixty-five years (1945–2010) for several European countries to twenty-two years (1988–2010) for Korea. In this chapter, I explain the criteria for selecting the thirty-six democracies and for choosing the minimum number...

  9. Chapter 5 Party Systems: Two-Party and Multiparty Patterns
    (pp. 60-78)

    The first of the ten variables that characterize the majoritarian-consensus contrast, presented in Chapter 1, was the difference between single-party majority governments and broad multiparty coalitions. This first difference can also be seen as the most important and typical difference between the two models of democracy because it epitomizes the contrast between concentration of power on one hand and power-sharing on the other. Moreover, the factor analysis reported in Chapter 14 shows that it correlates more strongly with the “factor” representing the first (executives-parties) dimension than any of the other four variables that belong to this dimension. It would therefore...

  10. Chapter 6 Cabinets: Concentration Versus Sharing of Executive Power
    (pp. 79-104)

    The second of the ten basic variables that characterize the difference between majoritarian and consensus forms of democracy, to be discussed in this chapter, concerns the breadth of participation by the people’s representatives in the executive branch of the government. As I stated at the beginning of Chapter 5, this variable can be regarded as the most typical variable in the majoritarian-consensus contrast: the difference between one-party majority governments and broad multiparty coalitions epitomizes the contrast between the majoritarian principle of concentrating power in the hands of the majority and the consensus principle of broad power-sharing.

    Single-party majority cabinets and...

  11. Chapter 7 Executive-Legislative Relations: Patterns of Dominance and Balance of Power
    (pp. 105-129)

    The third difference between the majoritarian and consensus models of democracy concerns the relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government. The majoritarian model is one of executive dominance, whereas the consensus model is characterized by a more balanced executive-legislative relationship. In real political life, a variety of patterns between complete balance and severe imbalance can occur.

    In this chapter I first contrast the two most prevalent formal arrangements of executive-legislative relations in democratic regimes: parliamentary government and presidential government. I propose a classificatory scheme based on the three major differences between these types of government and show that...

  12. Chapter 8 Electoral Systems: Majority and Plurality Methods Versus Proportional Representation
    (pp. 130-157)

    The fourth difference between the majoritarian and consensus models of democracy is clear-cut. The typical electoral system of majoritarian democracy is the single-member district plurality or majority system; consensus democracy typically uses proportional representation (PR). The plurality and majority single-member district methods are winner-take-all methods—the candidate supported by the largest number of voters wins, and all other voters remain unrepresented—and hence a perfect reflection of majoritarian philosophy. Moreover, the party gaining a nationwide majority or plurality of the votes will tend to be overrepresented in terms of parliamentary seats. In sharp contrast, the basic aim of proportional representation...

  13. Chapter 9 Interest Groups: Pluralism Versus Corporatism
    (pp. 158-173)

    The fifth difference between majoritarian and consensus democracy—and the last of the five that together constitute the executives-parties dimension—concerns the interest group system. The typical interest group system of majoritarian democracy is a competitive and uncoordinated pluralism of independent groups in contrast with the coordinated and compromise-oriented system of corporatism that is typical of the consensus model. Corporatism is often also termed “democratic corporatism,” “societal corporatism,” or “neocorporatism” to distinguish it from authoritarian forms of corporatism in which interest groups are entirely controlled by the state. I shall use the short term “corporatism” but always as a synonym...

  14. Chapter 10 Division of Power: The Federal-Unitary and Centralized-Decentralized Contrasts
    (pp. 174-186)

    The prime characteristic of the majoritarian model of democracy, as I have emphasized in previous chapters, is concentration of power in the hands of the majority. The consensus model is characterized bynon-concentration of power, which can take the two basic forms of sharing of power and division of power. These two forms provide the theoretical underpinnings of the two dimensions of the majoritarian-consensus contrast. The crucial distinction is whether in consensus democracy power is dispersed to political actors operating togetherwithinthe same political institutions or dispersed toseparatepolitical institutions (see Chapter 1). In the previous five chapters...

  15. Chapter 11 Parliaments and Congresses: Concentration Versus Division of Legislative Power
    (pp. 187-203)

    The second component of the federal-unitary dimension is the distribution—concentration versus division—of power in the legislature. The pure majoritarian model calls for the concentration of legislative power in a single chamber; the pure consensus model is characterized by a bicameral legislature in which power is divided equally between two differently constituted chambers. In practice, we find a variety of intermediate arrangements. In Chapters 2 and 3 we saw that the New Zealand parliament (after 1950) and the Swiss parliament are, in this respect, perfect prototypes of majoritarian and consensus democracy, respectively, but that the other three main examples...

  16. Chapter 12 Constitutions: Amendment Procedures and Judicial Review
    (pp. 204-225)

    In this chapter I discuss two variables, both belonging to the federal-unitary dimension, that have to do with the presence or absence of explicit restraints on the legislative power of parliamentary majorities. Is there a constitution serving as a “higher law” that is binding on parliament and that cannot be changed by a regular parliamentary majority, or is parliament—that is, the majority in parliament—the supreme and sovereign lawmaker? The first variable is the ease or difficulty of amending the constitution: the conventional distinction is betweenflexibleconstitutions that can be changed by regular majorities andrigidconstitutions that...

  17. Chapter 13 Central Banks: Independence Versus Dependence
    (pp. 226-238)

    The fifth and last variable in the federal-unitary dimension concerns central banks and how much independence and power they enjoy. Central banks are key governmental institutions that, compared with the other main organs of government, tend to be neglected in political science. In single-country and comparative descriptions of democratic political systems, political scientists invariably cover the executive, the legislature, political parties, and elections, and often also interest groups, the court system, the constitutional amendment process, and central-noncentral government relations—but hardly ever the operation and power of the central bank.

    When central banks are strong and independent, they play a...

  18. Chapter 14 The Two-Dimensional Conceptual Map of Democracy
    (pp. 239-254)

    In this brief chapter I summarize the main findings of Chapters 5 through 13, which have dealt with each of the ten basic majoritarian versus consensus variables. I focus on two aspects of the “grand picture”: the two-dimensional pattern formed by the relationships among the ten variables and the positions of each of the thirty-six democracies in this two-dimensional pattern. In addition, I explore the changes in these positions from the pre-1980 to the post-1981 period of twenty-seven of the thirty-six democracies for which a sufficiently long time span is available in the first period.

    In Chapter 1, I previewed...

  19. Chapter 15 Effective Government and Policy-Making: Does Consensus Democracy Make a Difference?
    (pp. 255-273)

    In this chapter and the next I deal with the “so what?” question: Does the difference between majoritarian and consensus democracy make a difference for the operation of democracy, especially for how well democracy works? The conventional wisdom—which is often stated in terms of the relative advantages of PR versus plurality and majority elections but which can be extended to the broader contrast between consensus and majoritarian democracy along the executives-parties dimension—is that there is a trade-off between the quality and the effectiveness of democratic government. On one hand, the conventional wisdom concedes that PR and consensus democracy...

  20. Chapter 16 The Quality of Democracy and a “Kinder, Gentler” Democracy: Consensus Democracy Makes a Difference
    (pp. 274-294)

    The conventional wisdom, cited in the previous chapter, argues—erroneously, as I have shown—that majoritarian democracy is better at governing, but admits that consensus democracy is better at representing—in particular, representing minority groups and minority interests, representing everyone more accurately, and representing people and their interests more inclusively. In the first part of this chapter I examine several measures of the quality of democracy and democratic representation and the extent to which consensus democracies perform better than majoritarian democracies according to these measures. In the second part of the chapter I discuss differences between the two types of...

  21. Chapter 17 Conclusions and Recommendations
    (pp. 295-303)

    Two conclusions of this book stand out as most important. The first is that the enormous variety of formal and informal rules and institutions that we find in democracies can be reduced to a clear two-dimensional pattern on the basis of the contrasts between majoritarian and consensus government. The second important conclusion has to do with the policy performance of democratic governments: as far as the executives-parties dimension is concerned, majoritarian democracies do not outperform the consensus democracies on effective government and effective policy-making—in fact, the consensus democracies have the better record—but the consensus democracies do clearly outperform...

  22. Appendix: Two Dimensions and Ten Basic Variables, 1945–2010 and 1981–2010
    (pp. 304-310)
  23. References
    (pp. 311-337)
  24. INDEX
    (pp. 338-348)