Consociationalism is a form of democracy which seeks to regulate and stabilize a society comprised of diverse groups. In recent years, it has become a major demand of Israeli Arabs.
Consociationalism is a form of democracy which seeks to regulate the sharing of power in a state that comprises diverse societies (distinct ethnic, religious, political, national or linguistic groups), by allocating these groups collective rights. The executive-power sharing is mainly characterized by proportional representation, veto rights and segmental autonomy for minority groups.
In recent years, it has become a major demand of Israeli Arabs.
Consociationalism stands in contrast to the concept of ‘majoritarian democracy.’1 Majoritarian systems call for the integration of minority groups and the distribution of individual rights solely. However, the consociationalist approach consists in accommodating minorities, by granting them collective rights.
There are four characteristics of Consociationalism:2
Executive power-sharing – forming a ‘grand coalition’ with leaders representing all significant segments of society. The institutional expression of the ‘grand coalition’ is a multi-party cabinet.3
Mutual Veto – giving groups within a state the right to veto the government’s decision-making. It will thus be necessary to reach mutual agreement among all parties in the executive.4
Proportional Representation – enabling groups to be a part of the state’s decision-making and to have their voice heard in the highest instances of policy-making.
Segmental Autonomy – giving minority groups the possibility for self-rule within the boundaries of the state.
Rather than having a particular structure, Consociationalism could take different forms in different places,5 and the division of power between the central government and the autonomous political units varies.