Rethinking Consensus vs. Majoritarian Democracy
29 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2018
Date Written: October 2018
Arend Lijphart's distinction between two dimensions of consensus and majoritarian democracy has been an influential concept. However, several scholars have reported that the distinction does not travel well to other regions or historical periods. This paper argues, more generally, that Lijphart's dimensions can be replicated only when using Lijphart's own data. If one substitutes conceptually similar indicators (in this case, mostly from V-Dem), three or four dimensions emerge, and they are not robust to different samples. Such substitutions would be necessary for anyone wishing to measure Lijphart's dimensions beyond his chosen cases. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that these concepts are not generally useful. However, it is possible to construct a couple of simple indices measuring thinner related concepts.
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