Lijphart_PatternsOfDemocracy

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Unformatted text preview: : Patterns of Democracy Government F arms and Pezformance in Thirty—Six Countries Arend Lijphart : r I 5 Yale University Press New Haven and London xiv PREFACE Svante O. Ersson, Bernard Grofman, Arnold J. Heidenheimer, Charles 0. Jones, Ellis S. Krauss, Samuel H. Kernell, Michael Laver, Thomas C. Lundberg, Malcolm Mackerras, Peter Mair, Jane Mansbridge, Marc F. Plattner, G. Bingham Powell, Jr., Ste— ven R. Reed, Manfred G. Schmidt, Kaare Strom, Wilfried Swen- den, Rein Taagepera, Paul V. Warwick, and Demet Yalcin. In October 1997, I gave an intensive two—week seminar, largely based on draft materials for Patterns ofDemocracy, at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna; I am grateful for the many helpful comments I received from Josef Melchior, Bern- hard Kittel, and the graduate students who participated in the seminar sessions. In April and May 1998, I gave similar lectures and seminars at several universities in New Zealand: the Uni- versity of Canterbury in Christchurch, the University of Auck— land, Victoria University of Wellington, and the University of Waikato in Hamilton. Here, too, I benefited from many useful reactions, and I want to thank Peter Aimer, Jonathan Boston, John Henderson, Martin Holland, Keith Jackson, Raymond Mil- ler, Nigel S. Roberts, and Jack Vowles in particular. James N. Druckman expertly executed the factor analysis re- ported in Chapter 14. Ian Budge, Hans Keman, and Jaap Wolden— dorp provided me with their new data on cabinet formation before these were published. Several other scholars also gener— ously shared their not yet published or only partly published data with me: data on the composition of federal chambers from Alfred Stepan and Wilfiied Swenden’s Federal Databank; data on the distance between governments and voters collected by John D. Huber and G. Bingham Powell, Jr.; and Christopher J. Anderson and Christine A. Guillory’s data on satisfaction with democracy. Last, but certainly not least, I am very grateful for the work of my research assistants Nastaran Afari, Risa A. Brooks, Linda L. Christian, and Stephen M. Swindle. CHAPTER 1' Introduction There are many ways in which, in principle, a de- mocracy can be organized and run; in practice, too, modern democracies exhibit a variety of formal governmental institu— tions, 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 perspec- tive of how majoritarian or how consensual their rules and prac- tices are. The majoritarianism—consensus contrast arises fiom 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 stipulation that democracy means gov— ernment not only bybut also for the people—~that is, government in accordance with the people’s preferences.1 ‘ Defining democracy as “government by and for the people” raises a fundamental question: who will do the governing and to whose interests should the government be responsive when the people are in disagreement and have divergent preferences? 1. As Clifford D. May [1987) points out, credit for this definition should probably go to Daniel Webster instead of Lincoln. Webster gave an address in 1830—thirty—three years before Lincoln’s Gettysburg address—in which he spoke of a “people’s government, made for the people, made by the people, and answer— able to the people.” 2 INTRODUCTION One answer to this dilemma is: the majority of the people. This is the essence of the majoritarian model of democracy. The ma— joritarian answer is simple and straightforward and has great appeal because government by the majority and in accordance With the majority’s wishes obviously comes closer to the demo— cratic ideal of “government by and for the people” than govern- ment by and responsive to a minority. The alternative answer to the dilemma is: as many people as possible. This is the crux of the consensus model. It does not differ from the majoritarian model in accepting that majority rule is better than minority rule, but it accepts majority rule only as a minimum requirement: instead of being satisfied with nar— row decision-making majorities, it seeks to maximize the size of these majorities. Its rules and institutions aim at broad partici— pation in government and broad agreement on the policies that the government should pursue. The majoritarian model concen- trates political power in the hands of a bare majority—and often even merely a plurality instead of a majority, as Chapter 2 will show—whereas the consensus model tries to share, disperse, and limit power in a variety of ways. A closely related difference is that the majoritarian model of democracy is exclusive, com- petitive, and adversarial, whereas the consensus model is char- acterized by inclusiveness, bargaining, and compromise; for this reason, consensus democracy could also be termed “nego- tiation democracy” (Kaiser 1997, 434). Ten differences with regard to the most important demo- cratic institutions and rules can be deduced from the major- itarian and consensus principles. Because the majoritarian char- acteristics are derived from the same principle and hence are logically connected, one could also expect them ‘to occur to- gether in the real world; the same applies to the consensus char- acteristics. All ten variables could therefore be expected to be closely related. Previous research has largely confirmed these expectationswwith one major exception: the variables cluster in two clearly separate dimensions (Lijphart 1984, 211—22; 1997a, INTRODUCTION 3 196—201). The first dimension groups five characteristics of the arrangement of executive power, the party and electoral sys— tems, and interest groups. For brevity’s sake, I shall refer to this first dimension as the executives-parties dimension. Since most of the five differences on the second dimension are commonly associated With the contrast between federalism and unitary government—a matter to which I shall return shortly~—I shall call this second dimension the federal—unitary dimension. The ten differences are formulated below in terms of dichot— omous contrasts between the majoritarian and consensus mod- els, but they are all variables on which particular countries may be at either end of the continuum or anywhere in between. The majoritarian characteristic is listed first in each case. The five differences on the executives-parties dimension are as follows: 1. Concentration of executive power in single-party major- ity cabinets versus executive power—sharing in broad mul- tiparty coalitions. 2. Executive—legislative relationships in which the execu- tive is dominant versus executive—legislative balance of power. - 3. Two—party versus multiparty systems. 4. Majoritarian and disproportional electoral systems ver— sus proportional representation. 5. Pluralist interest group systems with free-for—all com— petition among groups versus coordinated and “corpo— ratist” interest group systems aimed at compromise and concertation. The five differences on the federal—unitary dimension are the following: 1. Unitary and centralized government versus federal and decentralized government. 2. Concentration of legislative power in a unicameral legis— lature versus division of legislative power between two equally strong but differently constituted houses. 4 INTRODUCTION 3. Flexible constitutions that can be amended by simple ma— j orities versus rigid constitutions that can be changed only by extraordinary majorities. 4. Systems in which legislatures have the final word on the constitutionality of their own legislation versus systems in which laws are subject to a judicial review of their constitutionality by supreme or constitutional courts. 5. Central banks that are dependent on the executive versus independent central banks. One plausible explanation ofthis two-dimensional pattern is suggested by theorists of federalism like Ivo D. Duchacek (1970], Daniel ]. Elazar (1968], Carl J. Friedrich (1950, 189—221], and K. C. Wheare (1946]. These scholars maintain that federalism has primary and secondary meanings. Its primary definition is: ' a guaranteed division of power between the central government and regional governments. The secondary characteristics are strong bicameralism, a rigid constitution, and strong judicial review. Their argument is that the guarantee of a federal division of power can work well only if (1] both the guarantee and the exact lines of the division of power are clearly stated in the constitution and this guarantee cannot be changed unilaterally at either the central or regional level—hence the need for a rigid constitution, (2] there is a neutral arbiter who can resolvecon— flicts concerning the division of power between the two levels of government—hence the need for judicial review, and (3] there is a federal chamber in the national legislature in which the re- gions have strong representation~hence the need for strong bi- cameralism; moreover, (4] the main purpose of federalism is to promote and protect a decentralized system of government. These federalist characteristics can be found in the first four variables of the second dimension. As stated earlier, this dimen-0 sion is therefore called the federal-unitary dimension. The federalist explanation is not entirely satisfactory, how— ever, for two reasons. One problem is that, although it can ex— INTRODUCTION 5 plain the clustering of the four variables in one dimension, it does not explain why this dimension should be so clearly distinct from the other dimension. Second, it cannot explain why the variable of central bank independence is part of the federal—unitary dimension. A more persuasive explanation of the two—dimensional pattern is the distinction between “collec— tive agency” and “shared responsibility” on one hand and di— Vided agencies and responsibilities on the other suggested by Robert E. Goodin (1996, 331].2 These are both forms of diffusion of power, but the first dimension of consensus democracy with its multiparty face—to-face interactions Within cabinets, legis- latures, legislative committees, and concertation meetings be- tween governments and interest groups has a close fit with the collective-responsibility form. In contrast, both the four fed- eralist characteristics and the role of central banks fit the for- mat of diffusion by means of institutional separation: division of power between separate federal and state institutions, two separate chambers in the legislature, and separate and inde- pendent high courts and central banks. Viewed from this per- spective, the first dimension could also be labeled the joint- responsibility or joint—power dimension and the second the divided—responsibility or divided—power dimension. However, although these labels would be more accurate and theoretically more meaningful, my original labels~—“executives-parties” and “federal—unitary”—have the great advantage that they are easier to remember, and I shall therefore keep using them throughout this book. The distinction between two basic types of democracy, ma— joritarian and consensus, is by no means a novel invention in political science. In fact, I borrowed these two terms from Robert G. Dixon, Jr. (1968, 10]. Hans Hattenhauer and Werner Kaltefleiter (1986] also contrast the “majority principle” with 2. A similar distinction, made by George Tsebelis (1995, 302], is that be- tween “institufional veto players,” located in different institutions, and “par- tisan veto players” like the parties within a government coalition. 6 INTRODUCTION consensus, and Iiirg Steiner (1971) juxtaposes “the principles of majority and proportionality.” G. Bingham Powell (1982) distin- guishes between majoritarian and broadly “representational” forms of democracy and, in later work, between two “Visions of liberal democracy”: the Majority Control and the Proportionate Influence Visions (Huber and Powell 1994). Similar contrasts have been drawn by Robert A. Dahl (1956)—“populistic” versus “Madisonian” democracy; William H. Riker (1982)—“popu— lism” versus “liberalism”; Jane Mansbridge [1980)—“adversary” versus “unitary” democracy; and S. E. Finer (1975)—“adversary politics” versus centrist and coalitional politics. Nevertheless, there is a surprisingly strong and persistent tendency in political science to equate democracy solely with majoritarian democracy and to fail to recognize consensus de- mocracy as an alternative and equally legitimate type. A partic- ularly clear example can be found in Stephanie Lawson’s [1993, 192—93) argument that a strong political opposition is “the sine qua non of contemporary democracy” and that its prime pur— pose is “to become the government.” This view is based on the majoritarian assumption that democracy entails a two—party sys- tem (or possibly two opposing blocs of parties) that alternate in government; it fails to take into account that governments in more consensual multiparty systems tend to be coalitions and that a change in government in these systems usually means only a partial change in the party composition of the govern- ment—instead of the opposition “becoming” the government. The frequent use of the “turnover” test in order to determine whether a democracy has become stable and consolidated be- trays the same majoritarian assumption. Samuel P. Huntington (1991, 266—67) even proposes a “two—turnover test,” according to which “a democracy may be Viewed as consolidated if the party or group that takes power in the initial election at the time of transition [to democracy] loses a subsequent election and turns over power to those election winners, and if those election winners then peacefully turn over power to the Winners of a INTRODUCTION 7 later election.” Of the twenty long—term democracies analyzed in this book, all of which are undoubtedly stable and consoli- dated democratic systems, no fewer than four—Germany, Lux- embourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland—fail even the one- turnover test during the half-century from the late 19405 to 1996, that is, they experienced many cabinet changes but never a complete turn0ver, and eight—the same four countries plus Belgium, Finland, Israel, and Italy—fail the two—turnover test. This book will shOW that pure or almost pure majoritarian democracies are actually quite rare—limited to the United King— dom, New Zealand (until 1996), and the former British colonies in the Caribbean (but only with regard to the executives-parties dimension). Most democracies have significant or even pre— dominantly consensual traits. Moreover, as this book shows, consensus democracy may be considered more democratic than majoritarian democracy in most respects. The ten contrasting characteristics of the two models of de- mocracy, briefly listed above, are described in a preliminary fashion and exemplified by means of sketches of relatively pure cases of majoritarian democracy—the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Barbados—and of relatively pure cases of con- sensus democracy—Switzerland, Belgium, and the European Union—in Chapters 2 and 3. The thirty-six empirical cases of democracy, including the five just mentioned (but not the Euro— pean Union), that were selected for the comparative analysis are systematically introduced in Chapter 4. The ten institutional variables are then analyzed in greater depth in the nine chapters that comprise the bulk of this book [Chapters 5 to 13). Chapter 14 summarizes the results and places the thirty—six democracies on a two—dimensional “conceptual map” of democracy; it also analyzes shifts on this map over time and shows that most coun- tries occupy stable positions on the map. Chapters 15 and 16 ask the “so what?” question: does the type of democracy make a difference, especially with regard to effective economic policy- making and the quality of democracy? These chapters show that 8 INTRODUCTION there are only small differences with regard to governing ef- fectiveness but that consensus systems tend to score signifi— cantly higher on a Wide array of indicators of democratic qual- ity. Chapter 17 concludes with a look at the policy implicatiOns of the book’s findings for democratizing and newly democratic countries. CHAPTER 2 The Westminster Model of Democracy In this book I use the term Westminster model inter- changeably with majoritarian mode] to refer to a general model of democracy. It may also be used more narrowly to denote the main characteristics of British parliamentary and governmental institutions (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 origi— nal and the best—known example of this model. It is also Widely admired. Richard Rose [1974, 131) points out that, “With confi- ' dence born of continental isolation, Americans have come to assume that their institutions—the Presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court—are the prototype of what should be adopted elsewhere.” But American political scientists, especially those in the field of comparative politics, have tended to hold the British system of government in at least equally high esteem [Kavanagh 1974). One famous political scientist who fervently admired the Westminster model was President Woodrow Wilson. In his early writings he went so far as to urge the abolition of presidential government and the adoption of British—style parliamentary government in the United States. Such views have also been held by many other non-British observers of British politics, and many features of the Westminster model have been exported to 10 WESTMINSTER MODEL other countries: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most of Britain’s former colonies in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean when they became independent. Wilson (1884, 33) referred to parliamentary government in accordance with the Westminster model as “the world’s fashion.” The ten interrelated elements of the Westminster or major- itarian model are illustrated by features of three democracies that closely approximate this model and can be regarded as the majoritarian prototypes: the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Barbados. Britain, where the Westminster model originated, is clearly the first and most obvious example to use. In many respects, however, New Zealand is an even better example—at least until its sharp turn away from majoritarianism in Octo- ber 1998. The third example—Barbados—is also an almost per- fect prototype of the Westminster model, although only as far as the first (executives—parties) dimension of the majoritarian- consensus contrast is concerned. In the following discussion of the ten majoritarian characteristics in the three countries, I em- phasize not only their conformity with the general model but also occasional deviations from the model, as well as various other qualifications that need to be made. The Westminster Model in the United Kingdom 1. Concentration of executive power in one-party and bare- majority cabinets. The most powerful organ of British govern- ment is the cabinet. It is normally composed of members of the party that has the majority of seats in the House of Commons, and the minority is not included. Coalition cabinets are rare. Because in the British two-party system the two principal par- ties are of approximately equal strength, the party that wins the elections usually represents no more than a narrow majority, and the minority is relatively large. Hence the British one-party and bare—majority cabinet is the perfect embodiment of the prin- ciple of majority rule: it wields vast amounts of political power WESTMINSTER MODEL 11 to rule as the representative of and in the interest of a majority that is not of overwhelming proportions. A large minority is excluded from power and condemned to the role of opposition. Especially since 1945, there have been few exceptions to the British norm of one-party majority cabinets. David Butler (1978, 112] writes that “clear-cut single-party government has been much less prevalent than many would suppose,” but most of the deviations from the norm—coalitions of two or more parties or minority cabinets—occurred from 1918 to 1945. The most recent instance of a coalition cabinet was the 1940—45 wartime coali- tion formed by the Conservatives, who had a parliamentary ma- jority, With the Labour and Liberal parties, under Conservative Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The only instances of minor- ity cabinets in the postwar period were two minority Labour cabinets in the 1970s. In the parliamentary election of February 1974, the Labour party won a plurality but not a majority of the seats and formed a minority government dependent on all other parties not uniting to defeat it. New elections were held that October and Labour won an outright, albeit narrow, majority of the seats; but this majority was eroded by defections and by- election defeats, and the Labour cabinet again became a minor— ity cabinet in 1976. It regained a temporary legislative majority in 1977 as a result of the pact it negotiated with the thirteen Liberals in the House of Commons: the Liberals agreed to sup- port the cabinet in exchange for consultation on legislative pro- posals before their submission to Parliament. No Liberals en- tered the cabinet, however, and the cabinet therefore continued as a minority instead of a true coalition cabinet. The so—called Lab-Lib pact lasted until 1978, and in 1979 Labour Prime Minis- ter Iames Callaghan’s minority cabinet was brought down by a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons. 2. Cabinet dominance. The United Kingdom has a parlia- mentary system of government, which means that the cabinet is dependent on the confidence of Parliament. In theory, be- cause the House of Commons can vote a cabinet out of office, it 12 WESTMINSTER MODEL “controls” the cabinet. In reality, the relationship is reversed. Because the cabinet is composed of the leaders of a cohesive majority party in the House of Commons, it is normally backed by the majority in the House of Commons, and it can confidently count on staying in office and getting its legislative proposals approved. The cabinet is clearly dominant vis-a-vis Parliament. Because strong cabinet leadership depends on majority sup— port in the House of Commons and on the cohesiveness of the majority party, cabinets lose some of their predominant position when either or both of these conditions are absent. Especially during the periods of minority government in the 1970s, there was a significant increase in the frequency of parliamentary de— feats of important cabinet proposals. This even caused a change in the traditional View that cabinets must resign or dissolve the House of Commons and call for new elections if they suffer a defeat on either a parliamentary vote of no confidence or a major bill of central importance to the cabinet. The new unwritten rule is that only an explicit vote of no confidence necessitates resig- nation or new elections. The normalcy of cabinet dominance was largely restored in the 1980s under the strong leadership of Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Both the normal and the deviant situations show that it is the disciplined two—party system rather than the parliamentary sys— tem that gives rise to executive dominance. In multiparty parlia— mentary systems, cabinets—which are often coalition cabinets—— tend to be much less dominant (Peters 1997). Because of the concentration of power in a dominant cabinet, former cabinet minister Lord Hailsham (1978, 127) has called the British sys- tem of government an “elective dictatorship.”1 1. In presidential systems of government, in which the presidential execu- tive cannot normally be removed by the legislature [except by impeachment], the same variation in the degree of executive dominance can occur, depending on exactly how governmental powers are separated. In the United States, presi- dent and Congress can be said to be in a rough balance of power, but presidents in France and in some of the Latin American countries are considerably more powerful. Guillermo O’Donnell [1994, 59—60] has proposed the term “delega— WESTMINSTER MODEL 13 3. Two—party system. British politics is dominated by two large parties: the Conservative party and the Labour party. Other parties also contest elections and win seats in the House of C0m~ mons—in particular the Liberals and, after their merger with the Social Democratic party in the late 1980s, the Liberal Demo- crats—but they are not large enoughto be overall victors. The bulk of the seats are captured by the two major parties, and they form the cabinets: the Labour party from 1945 to 1951, 1964 to 1970, 1974 to 1979, and from 1997 on, and the Conservatives from 1951 to 1964, 1970 to 1974, and in the long stretch from 1979 to 1997. The hegemony of these two parties was especially pronounced between 1950 and 1970: jointly they never won less than 87.5 percent of the votes and 98 percent of the seats in the House of Commons in the seven elections held in this period. The interwar years were a transitional period during which the Labour party replaced the Liberals as one of the two big parties, and in the 1945 election, the Labour and Conservative parties together won about 85 percent of the votes and 92.5 per- cent of the seats. Their support declined considerably after 1970: their joint share of the popular vote ranged from only 70 percent (in 1983) to less than 81 percent [in 1979), but they continued to win a minimum of 93 percent of the seats, except in 1997, when their joint seat share fell to about 88.5 percent. The Liberals were the main beneficiaries. In alliance with the SocialDemocratic party, they even won more than 25 percent of the vote on one occasion (in the 1983 election) but, until 1997, never more than fourteen seats by themselves and twenty-three seats in alliance with the Social Democrats. In the 1997 election, however, the Liberal Democrats captured a surprising forty—six seats with about 17 percent of the vote. tive democracy”—al<in to Hailsham’s “elective dictatorship"—for systems with directly elected and dominant presidents; in such “strongly majoritarian” sys- tems, “whoever wins election to the presidency is thereby entitled to govern as he or she sees fit, constrained only by the hard facts of existing power relations and by a constitutionally limited term of office.” 14 WESTMINSTER MODEL A corollary trait of two-party systems is that they tend to be one-dimensional party systems; that is, the programs and pol- icies of the main parties usually differ fiom each other mainly with regard to just one dimension, that of socioeconomic issues. This is clearly the case for the British two-party system. The principal politically significant difference that divides the Con- servative and Labour parties is disagreement about socioeco- nomic policies: on the left-right spectrum, Labour represents the left—of—center and the Conservative party the right—of—center preferences. This difference is also reflected in the pattern of voters’ support for the parties in parliamentary elections: working-class voters tend to cast their ballots for Labour candi- dates and middle—class voters tend to support Conservative can- didates. The Liberals and Liberal Democrats can also be placed easily on the socioeconomic dimension: they occupy a center position. There are other differences, of course, but they are much less salient and do not have a major effect on the composition of the House of Commons and the cabinet. For instance, the Protestant- Catholic difference in Northern Ireland is the overwhelmingly dominant difference separating the parties and their supporters, but Northern Ireland contains less than 3 percent of the popula- tion of the United Kingdom, and such religious differences are no longer politically relevant in the British part of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, and Wales]. Ethnic differences ex- plain the persistence of the Scottish National party and the Welsh nationalists, but these parties never manage to win more than a handful of seats. The only slight exception to the one- dimensionality ofthe British party system is that a foreign-policy issue—British membership in the European Community—has fiequently been a source of division both within and between the Conservative and Labour parties. 4. Majoritan'an and disproportional system of elections. The House of Commons is a large legislative body with a member- ship that has ranged fiom 625 in 1950 to 659 in 1997. The mem- WESTMINSTER MODEL 15 hers are elected in single-member districts according to the plu- raljty method, which in Britain is usually referred to as the “first past the post” system: the candidate with the majority vote or, if there is no majority, with the largest minority vote wins. This system tends to produce highly disproportional results. For instance, the Labour party won an absolute parliamentary majority of 319 out of 635 seats with only 39.3 percent of the vote in the October 1974 elections, whereas the Liberals won only 13 seats with 18.6 percent of the vote-almost half the La— bour vote. Inthe five elections since then, from 1979 to 1997, the winning party has won clear majorities of seats with never more than 44 percent of the vote. All of these majorities have been what Douglas W. Rae (1967, 74) aptly calls “manufactured ma— jorities”—majorities that are artificially created by the electoral system out of mere pluralities of the vote. In fact, all the Winning parties since 1945 have won with the benefit of such manufac- tured majorities. It may therefore be more accurate to call the United Kingdom a pluralitan'an democracy instead of a ma- joritarian democracy. The disproportionality of the plurality method can even produce an overall winner who has failed to win a plurality of the votes: the Conservatives won a clear seat majority in the 1951 election not just with less than a majority of the votes but also with fewer votes than the Labour party had received. The disproportional electoral system has been particularly disadvantageous to the Liberals and Liberal Democrats, who have therefore long been in favor of introducing some form of proportional representation (PR). But because plurality has greatly benefited the Conservatives and Labour, these two major parties have remained committed to the old disproportional method. Nevertheless, there are some signs of movement in the direction of PR. For one thing, PR was adopted for all elec- tions in Northern Ireland (with the exception of elections to the House of Commons] after the outbreak of Protestant-Catholic strife in the early 19703. For another, soon after Labour’s elec— 16 WESTMINSTER MODEL tion Victory in 1997, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s new cabinet decided that the 1999 election of British representatives to the European Parliament would be by PR—bringing the United Kingdom in line with all of the other members of the European Union. PR will also be used for the election of the new regional assemblies for Scotland and Wales. Moreover, an advisory Com- mission on Voting Systems, chaired by former cabinet member Lord Jenkins, was instituted to propose changes in the electoral system, including the possibility of PR, for the House of Com- mons. Clearly, the principle of proportionality is no longer anathema. Still, it is wise to heed the cautionary words of Gra- ham Wilson (1997, 72), who points out that the two major par- ties have a long history of favoring basic reforms, but only until they gain power; then “they back away from changes such as electoral reform which would work to their disadvantage.” 5. Interest group pluralism. By concentrating power in the hands of the majority, the Westminster model of democracy sets up a government—versus—opposition pattern that is competitive and adversarial. Competition and conflict also characterize the majoritarian model’s typical interest group system: a system of free—for—all pluralism. It contrasts with interest group corpora— tism in which regular meetings take place between the represen— tatives of the government, labor unions, and employers’ orga— nizations to seek agreement on socioeconomic policies; this process of coordination is often referred to as concertation, and the agreements reached are often called tripartite pacts. Concer— tation is facilitated if there are relatively few, large, and strong interest groups in each of the main functional sectors—labor, employers, farmers—and/ or if there is a strong peak organiza— tion in each of the sectors that coordinates the preferences and desired strategies for each sector. Pluralism, in contrast, means a multiplicity of interest groups that exert pressure on the govern— ment in an uncoordinated and competitive manner. Britain’s interest group system is clearly pluralist. The one exception is the 1975 Social Contract on wages and prices con— WESTMINSTER MODEL 17 eluded between the Labour government, the main labor union federation (the Trades Union Congress), and the main employ- ers’ federation (the Confederation of British Industry). This con— tract fell apart two years later when the government failed to get union agreement to accept further wage restraints and imposed wage ceilings unilaterally. The 1980s were characterized even more by grim confrontations between Margaret Thatcher’s Con- servative government and the labor unions—the very opposite of concertation and corporatism. As Michael Gallagher, Michael Laver, and Peter Mair (1995, 370) point out, Britain is “decid— edly not a corporatist system” for two important reasons: “The first is the general lack of integration of both unions and man— agement into the policymaking process. The second is the ap— parent preference of both sides for confrontational methods of settling their differences.” 6. Unitary and centralized government. The United King- dom is a unitary and centralized state. Local governments per- form a series of important functions, but they are the creatures of the central government and their powers are not constitution— ally guaranteed [as in a federal system). Moreover, they are financially dependent on the central government. There are no clearly designated geographical and functional areas from which the parliamentary majority and the cabinet are barred. The Royal Commission on the Constitution under Lord Kilbran- don concluded in 1973: “The United Kingdom is the largest unitary state in Europe and among the most centralised of the major industrial countries in the world” (cited in Busch 1994, 60). More recently, Prime lVlinister Tony Blair called the British system “the most centralised government of any large state in the western world” [cited in Beer 1998, 25). Two exceptions should be noted. One is that Northern Ire— land was ruled by its own parliament and cabinet with a high degree of autonomy—more than what most states in federal sys- tems have—from 1921, when the Republic of Ireland became independent, until the imposition of direct rule from London in 13 WESTMINSTER MODEL 1972. It is also significant, however, that Northern Ireland’s au— tonomy could be, and was, eliminated in 1972 by Parliament by means of a simple majoritarian decision. The second exception is the gradual movement toward greater autonomy for Scotland and Wales—~“devolution,” in British parlance. But it was not until September 1997 that referendums in Scotland and Wales finally approved the creation of autonomous and directly elec- ted Scottish and Welsh assemblies and that Prime Minister Blair could proclaim the end of the “era of big centralized govern- ment” (cited in Buxton, Kampfner, and Groom 1997, 1). 7. Concentration oflegislative power in a urticamera] legisla- ture. For the organization of the legislature, the majoritarian principle of concentrating power means that legislative power should be concentrated in a single house or chamber. In this respect, the United Kingdom deviates from the pure majoritar— ian model. Parliament consists of two chambers: the House of Commons, which is popularly elected, and the House of Lords, which consists mainly of members of the hereditary nobility but also contains a large number of so—called life peers, appointed by the government. Their relationship is asymmetrical: almost all legislative power belongs to the House of CoMons. The only power that the House of Lords retains is the power to delay legislation: money bills can be delayed for one month and all other bills for one year. The one—year limit was established in 1949; between the first major reform of 1911 and 1949, the Lords’ delaying power was about two years, but in the entire period since 1911 they have usually refrained from imposing long delays. Therefore, although the British bicameral legislature devi- ates from the majoritarian model, it does not deviate much: in everyday discussion in Britain, “Parliament” refers almost ex— clusively to the House of Commons, and the highly asymmetric bicameral system may also be called near—unicameralism. More- over, the Lords’ power may well be reduced further. Especially in the Labour party, there is strong sentiment in favor of reforms WESTMINSTER MODEL 19 that range from eliminating the voting rights of the hereditary members to the abolition of the House of Lords. The change from near-unicameralism to pure unicameralism would not be a difficult step: it could be decided by a simple majority in the House of Commons and, if the Lords objected, merely a one—year delay. 8. Constitutional flexibility. Britain has a constitution that is “unwritten” in the sense that there is not one written document that specifies the composition and powers of the governmental institutions and the rights of citizens. These are defined instead in a number of basic laws—~like the Magna Carta of 1215, the Bill of Rights of 1689, and the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949—— common law principles, customs, and conventions. The fact that the constitution is unwritten has two important implica- tions. One is that it makes the constitution completely flexible because it can be changed by Parliament in the same way as any other laws—by regular majorities instead of the supermajorities, like two-thirds majorities, required in many other democracies for amending their written constitutions. One slight exception to this flexibility is that opposition by the House of Lords may force a one—year delay in constitutional changes. 9. Absence ofjudicia] review. The other important implica- tion of an unwritten constitution is the absence of judicial re— view: there is no written constitutional document with the status of “higher law” against which the courts can test the constitu— tionality of regular legislation. Although Parliament normally accepts and feels bound by the rules of the unwritten constitu- tion, it is not formally bound by them. With regard to both chang- ing and interpreting the constitution, therefore, Parliament—— that is, the parliamentary majority~can be said to be the ulti- mate or sovereign authority. In A. V. Dicey’s (1915, 37—38) fa- mous formulation, parliamentary sovereignty “means neither more nor less than this, namely, that Parliament . . . has, under the English constitution, the right to make or unmake any law whatever; and, further, that no person or body is recognised by 20 WESTMINSTER MODEL the law of England as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament.” One exception to parliamentary sovereignty is that when Britain entered the European Community—a supranational in- stead of merely an international organization—in 1973, it ac- cepted the Community’s laws and institutions as higher author- ities than Parliament with regard to several areas of policy. Because sovereignty means supreme and ultimate authority, Parliament can therefore no longer be regarded as fully sov— ereign. Britain’s membership in the European Community— now called the European Union—has also introduced a measure of judicial review both for the European Court of Justice and for British courts: “Parliament’s supremacy is challenged by the right of the Community institutions to legislate for the United Kingdom (without the prior consent of Parliament) and by the right of the courts to rule on the admissibility (in terms of Com- munity law) of future acts of Parliament” (Coombs 1977, 88]. Similarly, Britain has been a member of the European Conven- tion on Human Rights since 1951, and its acceptance of an op- tional clause of this convention in 1966 has given the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg the right to review and invalidate any state action, including legislation, that it judges to Violate the human rights entrenched in the convention (Cap- pelletti 1989, 202; Johnson 1998, 155-58). 10. A central bank controlled by the executive. Central banks are responsible for monetary policy, and independent banks are widely considered to be better at controlling inflation and main— taining price stability than banks that are dependent on the ex- ecutive. However, central bank independence is clearly in con- flict with the Westminster model’s principle of concentrating power in the hands of the one—party majority cabinet. As ex— pected, the Bank of England has indeed not been able to act independently and has instead been under the control of the cabinet. During the 1980s, pressure to make the Bank of England more autonomous increased. Two Conservative Chancellors of WESTMINSTER MODEL 21 the exchequer tried to convince their colleagues to take this big step away from the Westminster model, but their advice was rejected (Busch 1994, 59). It was not until 1997—one of the first decisions of the newly elected Labour government—that the Bank of England was given the independent power to set inter- est rates. The Westminster Model in New Zealand Many of the Westminster model’s features have been ex— ported to other members of the British Commonwealth, but only one country has adopted virtually the entire model: New Zea— land. A major change away from majoritarianism took place in 1996 when New Zealand held its first election by PR, but the New Zealand political system before 1996 can serve as a second instructive example of how the Westminster model works. 1. Concentration of executive power in one—party and bare— majority cabinets. For six decades, from 1935 to the mid—1990s, New Zealand had single-party majority cabinets without excep— tions or interruptions. Two large parties—the Labour party and the National party—dominated New Zealand politics, and they alternated in office. The one-party majority cabinet formed after the last plurality election in 1993 suffered a series of defections and briefly became a quasi-coalition cabinet (a coalition with the recent defectors), then a one-party minority cabinet, and finally a minority coalition—but all of these unusual cabinets occurred in the final phase of the transition to the new non- Westminster system (Boston, Levine, McLeay, and Roberts 1996, 93-96). The only other deviations from single-party ma— jority government happened much earlier: New Zealand had a wartime coalition cabinet from 1915 to 1919, and another coali- tion was in power from 1931 to 1935. 2. Cabinet dominance. In this respect, too, New Zealand was a perfect example ofthe Westminster model. Just as during most of the postwar period in the United Kingdom, the combination 30 WESTMINSTER MODEL and New Zealand, Barbados has had an interest group system that is pluralist rather than corp oratist. In recent years, however, there has been a trend toward corporatist practices. In 1993, the government, business leaders, and labor unions negotiated a pact on wages and prices, which included a wage freeze. This agreement was replaced two years later by a new and more flex— ible tripartite pact. 6—10. The characteristics of the second [federal—unitary] di— mension of the majoritan'an model. Barbados has a unitary and centralized form of government—hardly surprising for a small country With only a quarter of a million people—but as far as the other four characteristics of the federal-unitary dimension are concerned, it does not fit the pure majoritarian model. It has a bicameral legislature consisting of a popularly elected House of Assembly and an appointed Senate that can delay but not veto— a case of asymmetrical bicameralism. It has a written constitu— tion that can be amended only by two—thirds majorities in both houses of the legislature. The constitution explicitly gives the courts the right of judicial review. Finally, the central bank of Barbados has a charter that gives it a medium degree of autonomy in monetary policy (Culderman, Webb, and Neyapti 1994, 45]. Anthony Payne (1993) argues that the former British colonies in the Caribbean are characterized not by Westminster systems but by “Westminster adapted.” As illustrated by Barbados—but by and large also true for the other Commonwealth democracies in the region—this adaptation has affected mainly the second dimension of the Westminster model. On the first (executives— parties) dimension, the Westminster model has remained al— most completely intact. The fact that Barbados deviates from majoritarianism with regard to most of the characteristics of the federal—unitary dimension does not mean, of course, that it devi— ates to such an extent that it is a good example of the contrasting model of consensus democracy. In order to illustrate the con— sensus model, I turn in the next chapter to the examples of Swit— zerland, Belgium, and the European Union. CHAPTER 3 The Consensus Model of Democracy The majoritarian interpretation of the basic defini— tion of democracy is that it means “government by the majority of the people.” It argues that majorities should govern and that minorities should oppose. This View is challenged by the con— sensus model of democracy. As the Nobel Prize—Winning econo— mist 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 be- cause they are principles of exclusion. Lewis states that the pri— mary meaning of democracy is that “all who are affected by a decision should have the chance to participate in making that decision either directly or through chosen representatives.” Its secondary meaning is that “the will of the majority shall prevail.” If this means that Winning parties may make all the governmental decisions and that the losers may criticize but not govern, Lewis argues, the two meanings are incompatible: “to exclude the losing groups from participation in decision— making clearly violates the primary meaning of democracy. ” Majoritarians can legitimately respond that, under two con— ditions, the incompatibility noted by Lewis can be resolved. First, the exclusion of the minority is mitigated if majorities and minorities alternate in government—that is, if today’s minority can become the majority in the next election instead of being 32 CONSENSUS MODEL condemned to permanent opposition. This is how the British, New Zealand, and Barbadian two-party systems have worked. In Barbados, alternation has operated perfectly since indepen~ dence in 1966: neither of the two main parties has won more than two elections in a row. In Britain and New Zealand, how- ever, there have been long periods in which one of the two main parties was kept out of power: the British Labour party during the thirteen years from 1951 to 1964 and the eighteen years from 1979 to 1997, the New Zealand National party for fourteen years from 1935 to 1949, and New Zealand Labour for twelve years from 1960 to 1972. Even during these extended periods of exclusion from power, one can plausibly argue that democracy and majority rule were not in conflict because of the presence of a second condition: the fact that all three countries are relatively homogeneous societies and that their major parties have usually not been very far apart in their policy outlooks because they have tended to stay close to the political center. One party’s exclusion from power may be undemocratic in terms of the “government by the people” crite- rion, but if its voters’ interests and preferences are reasonably well served by the other party’s policies in government, the sys— tem approximates the “government for the people” definition of democracy. In less homogeneous societies neither condition applies. The policies advocated by the principal parties tend to diverge to a greater extent, and the voters’ loyalties are frequently more rigid, reducing the chances that the main parties will alternate in ex- ercising governmental power. Especially in plural societies— societies that are sharply divided along religious, ideological, linguistic, cultural, ethnic, or racial lines into virtually separate subsocieties with their own political parties, interest groups, and media of communication—the flexibility necessary for ma- 7 joritarian democracy is likely to be absent. Under these condi— tions, majority rule is not only undemocratic but also dangerous, because minorities that are continually denied access to power CONSENSUS MODEL 33 will feel excluded and discriminated against and may lose their allegiance to the regime. For instance, in the plural society of Northern'Ireland, divided into a Protestant majority and a Cath- olic minority, majority rule meant that the Unionist party repre— senting the Protestant majority won all the elections and formed all of the governments between 1921 and 1972. Massive Catholic protests in the late 1960s developed into a Protestant-Catholic civil war that could be kept under control only by British mili- tary intervention and the imposition of direct rule from London. In the most deeply divided societies, like Northern Ireland, majority rule spells majority dictatorship and civil strife rather than democracy. What such societies need is a democratic re- gime that emphasizes consensus instead of opposition, that in- cludes rather than excludes, and that tries to maximize the size of the ruling majority instead of being satisfied with a bare ma— jority: consensus democracy. Despite their own majoritarian in— clinations, successive British cabinets have recognized this need: they have insisted on PR in all elections in Northern Ire— land (except those to the House of Commons) and, as a precon— dition for returning political autonomy to Northern Ireland, on broad Protestant—Catholic power-sharing coalitions. PR and power—sharing are also key elements in the agreement on North- ern Ireland reached in 1998. Similarly, Lewis (1965, 51—55, 65— 84) strongly recommends PR, inclusive coalitions, and federal— ism for the plural societies of West Africa. The consensus model is obviously also appropriate for less divided but still hetero— geneous countries, and it is a reasonable and workable alter— native to the Westminster model even in fairly homogeneous countries. The examples I use to illustrate the consensus model are Switzerland, Belgium, and the European Union—all multieth— nic entities. Switzerland is the best example: with one excep— tion it approximates the pure model perfectly. Belgium also pro— vides a good example, especially after it formally became a federal state in 1993; I therefore pay particular attention to the 34 CONSENSUS MODEL pattern of Belgian politics in the most recent period. The Euro~ pean Union (EU) is a supranational organization—more than just an international organization—but it is not, or not yet, a sovereign state. Because of the EU’s intermediate status, ana— lysts of the European Union disagree on whether to study it as an international organization or an incipient federal state, but the latter approach is increasingly common (Hix 1994). This is also my approach: if the EU is regarded as a federal state, its institutions are remarkably close to the consensus model of de- mocracy. I discuss the Swiss and Belgian prototypes first and in tandem with each other and then turn to the EU example. The Consensus Model in Switzerland and Belgium The consensus model of democracy may be described in terms of ten elements that stand in sharp contrast to each of the ten majoritarian characteristics of the Westminster model. In- stead of concentrating power in the hands of the majority, the consensus model tries to share, disperse, and restrain power in a variety of ways. 1. Executive power—sharing in broad coalition cabinets. In contrast to the Westminster model’s tendency to concentrate executive power in one—party and bare—majority cabinets, the consensus principle is to let all or most of the important parties share executive power in a broad coalition. The Swiss seven- member national executive, the Federal Council, offers an excel- lent example of such a broad coalition: the three large parties— Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, and Radical Democrats —each of which has held about one-fourth of the seats in the lower house of the legislature during the post—World War II era, and the Swiss People’s party, with about one-eighth of the seats, share the seven executive positions proportionately according to the so-called magic formula of 222:2:1, established in 1959. An additional criterion is that the linguistic groups be represented wMMhl. CONSENSUS MODEL 35 in rough proportion to their sizes: four or five German-speakers, Ofig'L/tiofienchéspealters, frequently aniltalian—speaker. Both criteria are informal rules but are strictly obeyed. I 7 The Belgian constitution offers an example of a formal re— quirement that the executive include representatives of the large linguistic groups. For many years, it had already been the custom to form cabinets with approximately equal numbers of ministers representing the Dutch—speaking majority and the French—speaking minority. This became a formal rule in 1970, and the new federal constitution again stipulates that “with the possible exception of the Prime Minister, the Council of Minis— ters [cabinet] includes as many French—speaking members as Dutch—speaking members” [Alen and Ergec 1994). Such a rule does not apply to the partisan composition of the cabinet, but there have only been about four years of one-party rule in the postwar era, and since 1980 all cabinets have been coalitions of between four and six parties. 2. Executive-legislative balance of power. The Swiss political system is neither parliamentary nor presidential. The relation— ship beMeeEtheEteEfifive Federal council and the legislature is explained by Swiss political scientist Iiirg Steiner [1974, 43) as follows: “The members of the council are elected individually for a fixed term of four years, and, according Wthii Constitution, the legislature cannot stage a vote of no confidence during that period. If a government proposal is defeated by Parliament, it is not necessary for either the member sponsoring this proposal or the Federal Council as a body to resign.” This formal separation ofpowers has made both the executive and the legislature more independent, and their relationship is much more balanced than cabinet-parliament relationships in the British, New Zea— land, and Barbadian cases in which the cabinet is clearly domi- nant. The Swiss Federal Council is powerful but not supreme. Belgium has a parliamentary form of government with a cab- inet dependent on the confidence of the legislature, as in the .‘w/ 36 CONSENSUS MODEL three prototypes of the Westminster model. However, Belgian cabinets, largely because they are often broad and uncohesive coalitions, are not at all as dominant as their Westminster coun- terparts, and they tend to have a genuine give-and-take relation- ship with parliament. The fact that Belgian cabinets are often short—lived attests to their relatively weak position: from 1980 to 1995, for instance, there were six cabinets consisting of different multiparty coalitions—with an average cabinet life of only about two and a half years. 3. Multiparty system. Both Switzerland and Belgium have multiparty systems without any party that comes close to major- ity status. In the 1995 elections to the Swiss National Council, fifteen parties won seats, but the bulk of these seats—162 out of ZOO—were captured by the four major parties represented on the Federal Council. Switzerland may therefore be said to have a four—party system. Until the late 1960s, Belgium was characterized by a three— party system consisting of two large parties—Christian Dem- ocrats and Socialists—and the medium-sized Liberals. Since then, however, these major parties have split along linguistic lines and several new linguistic parties have attained promi— nence, creating an extreme multiparty system: about a dozen parties have usually been able to win seats in the Chamber of Representatives, and nine of these have been important enough to be included in one or more cabinets. The emergence of multiparty systems in Switzerland and Belgium can be explained in terms of two factors. The first is that the two countries are plural societies, divided along several lines of cleavage. This multiplicity of cleavages is reflected in the multidimensional character of their party systems. In Swit- zerland, the religious cleavage divides the Christian Democrats, mainly supported by practicing Catholics, from the Social Dem— ocrats and Radicals, who draw most of their support from Catho- lics who rarely or never attend church and from Protestants. The CONSENSUS MODEL 37 socioeconomic cleavage further divides the Social Democrats, backed mainly by the working class, from the Radical Demo- crats, who have more middle-class support. The Swiss People’s Party is especially strong among Protestant farmers. The third source of cleavage, language, does not cause much further divi- sion in the Swiss party system, although the Swiss People’s party’s support is mainly in German—speaking Switzerland, and the three large parties are relatively loose alliances of cantonal parties Within which the linguistic cleavage is a significant dif- ferentiator (McRae 1983, 111—14). Similarly, the religious cleavage in Catholic Belgium divides the Christian Social parties, representing the more faithful Cath- olics, from the Socialists and Liberals, representing rarely prac— ticing or non-practicing Catholics. The SOcialists and Liberals are divided from each other by class differences. In contrast with Switzerland, the linguistic cleavage in Belgium has caused further splits both by dividing the above three groupings, which used to be Belgium’s three dominant parties, into separate and smaller Dutch-speaking and French—speaking parties and by creating several additional small linguistic parties (McRae 1986, 130—48]. 4. Proportional representation. The second explanation for the emergence of multiparty systems in Switzerland and Bel- gium is that their proportional electoral systems have not in- hibited the translation of societal cleavages into party-system cleavages. In contrast with the plurality method, which tends to overrepresent large parties and to underrepresent small parties, the basic aim of proportional representation (PR) is to divide the parliamentary seats among the parties in proportion to the votes they receive. The lower houses of both legislatures are elected by PR. 5. Interest group corporatism. There is some disagreement among experts on corporatism about the degree of corporatism in Switzerland and Belgium, mainly because the labor unions 38 CONSENSUS MODEL in these two countries tend to be less well organized and less influential than business. This disagreement can be resolved, however, by distinguishing between two variants of corpora- tism: social corp oratism in which the labor unions predominate and liberal corporatism in which business associations are the stronger force. Peter I. Katzenstein (1985, 105, 130] uses Swit- zerland and Belgium as two exemplars of the latter, and he con- cludes that Switzerland “most clearly typifies the traits charac- teristic of liberal corporatism.” Both countries clearly show the three general elements of corporatism: tripartite concertation, relatively few and relatively large interest groups, and the prom— inence of peak associations. Gerhard Lehmbruch (1993, 52) writes that “the strength of Swiss peak associations is remark- able, and it is generally acknowledged that the cohesion of Swiss interest associations is superior to that of Swiss political parties.” Moreover, Klaus Armingeon (1997) argues that, al— though the extent and effectiveness of corporatism in many Eu- ropean countries has been declining in the 1990s, it continues to be strong in Switzerland. 6. Federal and decentralized government. Switzerland is a federal state in which power is divided between the central gov— ernment and the governments of twenty cantons and six so— called half-cantons, produced by splits in three formerly united cantons. The half—cantons have only one instead of two repre- sentatives in the Swiss federal chamber, the Council of States, and they carry only half the weight of the regular cantons in the voting on constitutional amendments; in most other respects, however, their status is equal to that of the full cantons. Switzer— land is also one of the world’s most decentralized states. Belgium was a unitary and centralized state for a long time, but from 1970 on it gradually moved in the direction of both decentralization and federalism; in 1993, it formally became a federal state. The form of federalism adopted by Belgium is a “unique federalism” (Fitzmaurice 1996] and one of “Byzantine CONSENSUS MODEL 39 complexity” (McRae 1997, 289), because it consists of three geo— graphically defined regions—Flanders, Wallonia, and the bilin- gual capital of Brussels—and three nongeographically defined Cultural communities—the large Flemish and French commu- nities and the much smaller German-speaking community. The main reason for the construction of this two—layer system was that the bilingual area of Brussels has a large majority of French— spealcers, but that it is surrounded by Dutch—speaking Flanders. There is a considerable overlap between regions and commu— nities, but they do not match exactly. Each has its own legisla— ture and executive, except that in Flanders the government of the Flemish community also serves as the government of the Flemish region. 7. Strong bicameralism. The principal justification for in- stituting a bicameral instead of a unicameral legislature is to give special representation to minorities, including the smaller states in federal systems, in a second chamber or upper house. Two conditions have to be fulfilled if this minority represen— tation is to be meaningful: the upper house has to be elected on a different basis than the lower house, and it must have real power—ideally as much power as the lower house. Both of these conditions are met in the Swiss system: the National Council is the lower house and represents the Swiss people, and the Coun- cil of States is the upper or federal chamber representing the cantons, with each canton having two representatives and each half—canton one representative. Hence the small cantons are much more strongly represented in the Council of States than in the National Council. Moreover, as Wolf Linder (1994, 47] writes, the “absolute equality” of the two chambers is a “sacro- sanct rule” in Switzerland. The two Belgian chambers of parliament—the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate—had virtually equal powers in prefederal Belgium, but they were both proportionally consti— tuted and hence very similar in composition. The new Senate, 40 CONSENSUS MODEL elected for the first time in 1995, especially represents the two cultural—linguistic groups, but it is still largely proportionally constituted and not designed to provide overrepresentation for the French-speaking and German-speaking minorities.1 More— over, its powers were reduced in comparison with the old Sen- ate; for instance, it no longer has budgetary authority (Senelle 1996, 283]. Hence the new federal legislature of Belgium ex- emplifies a relatively weak rather than strong bicameralism. 8. Constitutional rigidity. Both Belgium and Switzerland have a written constitution—a single document containing the basic rules of governance—that can be changed only by special majorities. Amendments to the Swiss constitution require the approval in a referendum of not only a nationwide majority of the voters but also majorities in a majority of the cantons. The half—cantons are given half weight in the canton-by—canton cal- culation; this means that, for instance, a constitutional amend— ment can be adopted by 13.5 cantons in favor and 12.5 against. The requirement of majority cantonal approval means that the populations of the smaller cantons and half-cantons, with less than 20 percent of the total Swiss population, can veto constitu- tional changes. In Belgium, there are two types of supermajorities. All con- stitutional amendments require the approval of two-thirds‘ma- jorities in both houses of the legislature. Moreover, laws pertain- ing to the organization and powers of the communities and regions have a semiconstitutional status and are even harder to adopt and to amend: in addition to the two-thirds majorities in 1. Most senators—forty out of seventy-one——are directly elected from two multimember districts that are partly defined in nongeographical terms—one comprising Flanders and Dutch-speakers in Brussels and the other Wallonia and French-speaking Bruxellois. The remaining thirty—one senators are indirectly elected or coopted in different ways. The overall linguistic composition is: forty- one Dutch—speakers, twenty-nine French-speakers, and one German-speaker. A further curious provision is that any adult children of the king are “senators by right.” CONSENSUS MODEL 41 both houses, they require the approval of majorities within the Dutch_speaking group as well as within the French—speaking group in each of the houses. This rule gives the French-speakers an effective minority veto. 9. judicial review. Switzerland deviates in one respect from the pure consensus model: its supreme court, the Federal Tri- bunal, does not have the right of judicial review. A popular initiative that tried to‘introduce it was decisively rejected in a 1939 referendum (Codding 1961, 112].2 There was no judicial review in Belgium either until 1984, when the new Court of Arbitration was inaugurated. The court’s original main responsibility was the interpretation of the consti- tutional provisions concerning the separation of powers be— tween the central, community, and regional governments. Its authority was greatly expanded by the constitutional revision of 1988, and the Court of Arbitration can now be regarded as a gen- uine constitutional court (Alen and Ergec 1994, 20—22; Veroug— straete 1992, 95). 10. Central bank independence. Switzerland’s central bank has long been regarded as one of the strongest and most inde— pendent central banks, together with the German Bundesbank and the Federal Reserve System in the United States. In contrast, the National Bank of Belgium was long one of the weakest cen- tral banks. However, its autonomy was substantially reinforced in the early 1990s, roughly at the same time as the transition to a federal system, but mainly as a result of the Maastricht Treaty, signed in 1992 and ratified in 1993, which obligated the EU member states to enhance the independence of their central banks. Robert Senelle (1996, 279] concludes that the Belgian central bank now enjoys a “high degree of autonomy . . . in the conduct of its monetary policy.” _ 2. National laws can, however, be challenged in a different manner: if, within ninety days of the passage of a law, a minimum of fifty thousand Citizens demand a referendum on it, a majority of Swiss voters can reject it. 42 CONSENSUS MODEL The Consensus Model in the European Union The principal institutions of the European Union do not fit the classification into executive, legislative, judicial, and mone~ tary organs as easily as those of the five sovereign states dis- cussed so far. This is eSpecially true for the European Council, which consists of the heads of government of the fifteen member states, meeting at least twice a year; it can exert great political influence, and most of the major steps in the development of the European Community and, since 1993, of the European Union have been initiated by the European Council. Of the other in. stitutions, the European Commission serves as the executive of the EU and can be compared to a cabinet; the European Parlia~ ment is the lower house of the legislature; and the Council of the European Union can be regarded as the upper house. The re- sponsibilities of the European Court of Justice and the European Central Bank are clear from their names. 1. Executive power-sharing in broad coalition cabinets. The European Commission consists of twenty members, each with a specific ministerial responsibility, appointed by the govern- ments of the member states. The five largest states—Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Spain—appoint two commissioners apiece, and each of the other ten members ap- points one commissioner. Because all fifteen nations that belong to the EU are represented on it, the Commission is a broad and permanent internation coalition. In practice, the Commission is also a coalition that unites the left, center, and right of the politi~ cal spectrum in Europe. A telling example is that, in the mid- 1990s, the two British commissioners were Conservative Leon Brittan and former Labour party leader Neil Kinnock~politi- cians who are extremely unlikely ever to serve together in a British cabinet. 2. Executive-legislative balance of power. After each five- yearly parliamentary election, the new European Commission must be approved by a vote in the European Parliament. Parlia- CONSENSUS MODEL 43 ment also has the power to dismiss the Commissiontbut only by a avg—thirds majofity. Farlia‘ment‘has Wary powers, but although its other legislative powers were enhanced by the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997, they remain relatively weak. In com- parison with the Commission, the Parliament’s role appears to be subordinate. This judgment of executive-legislative relation— ships changes, however, when we add the Council of the Euro- pean Union—composed of ministers from the governments of the fifteen member states——to the picture. George Tsebelis and jeannette Money (1997, 180) call the Council “the European equivalent of [an] upper house.” The Council is also clearly the strongest of the three institutions. Overall, therefore, the Com- mission is much more like the equal partner in the consensus model than the dominant cabinet in the Westminster model. 3. Multiparty system. The 626-member European Parliament had eight officially recognized parties (comprising the mini- mum of 18 members required for recognition) in 1996. The larg- est of these was the Party of European Socialists With about 34 percent of the seats in Parliament—far short of a parliamen- tary majority. The next largest was the European People’s party (mainly Christian Democrats) with about 29 percent of the seats. None of the other parties held more than 10 percent of the seats. The political fragmentation is even greater than appears from this multiparty pattern because the parties in the European Par— liament are considerably less cohesive and disciplined than the parties in the national parliaments. The partisan composition of the “upper house,” the Council of the European Union, changes as the cabinets of the member countries change, and it also de~ pends on the subject matter being discussed, which determines which particular minister will attend a particular session; for instance, if farm policies are on the Council’s agenda, the na- tional ministers of agriculture are likely to attend. In practice, however, the Council is also a multiparty body. 4. Proportiona] representation. The European Parliament has been directly elected since 1979. It is supposed to be elected V CONSENSUS MODE in each country according to a uniform electoral system, but the member countries have not been able to agree on such a system. Nevertheless, the prevalent method is some variant of PR, and PR is used in all of the member countries and in Northern Ire- land. The only exception has been the election by plurality of " the British representatives from the United Kingdom, but in , 1997 the new Labour cabinet decided that the 1999 European " Parliament elections in the United Kingdom would be entirely ' by PR. Even then, however, there will still be a significant de- gree of disproportionality as a result of the overrepresentation of L"; the small states and the underrepresentation of the large states L in the European Parliament. At the extremes, Germany has ninety—nine and Luxembourg six representatives in the Euro- pean Parliament, even though Germany’s population is about two hundred times larger than Luxembourg’s. In this respect, the European Parliament combines in one legislative chamber the principles of proportional representation and of equal na- tional representation that, for instance, in Switzerland are em~ bodied in two separate houses of the legislature. 5. Interest group corporatism. The EU has not yet developed a full-fledged corporatism, largely because the most important socioeconomic decisions are still made at the national level or subject to national vetoes. As the EU becomes more integrated, the degree of corporatism is bound to increase. In the title of Michael I. Gorges’s (1996) book Euro-Corporatism? the question mark is deliberate, and Gorges answers the question mainly in the negative for the present situation, but he also sees significant corporatist elements in certain sectors as well as a clear trend toward greater corp oratism. One important factor is that the Eu- ropean Commission has long favored a corporatist mode of ne- gotiating with interest groups. For instance, it sponsored a series of tripartite conferences during the 1970s, and although these did not lead to the institutionalization of tripartite bargaining, “the Commission never abandoned its goal of promoting a dia— logue between the social partners and of improving their partici~ COngNsus MODEL 45 Pafion in the Community’s decision-making process” (Gorges 1996, 139). Another 1nd1cat10n of the EU s mclmation toward corporatism is that one of its formal institutions is the adv1— Sory Economic and Social Committee, which consists of interest group representatives appointed by the member governments. 6. Federal and decentralized government. Compared with other international organizations, the supranational EU is highly unified and centralized, but compared with national states— even as decentralized a state as Switzerland—the EU is obvi- ously still more “confederal” than federal as well as extremely decentralized. “ 7. Strong bicameralism. The two criteria of strong bicameral- ism are that the two houses of a legislature be equal in strength and different in composition. The EU’s legislature fits the sec- and criterion without difficulty: the Council has equal represen— tation of the member countries and consists of representatives of the national governments, whereas the Parliament is directly elected by the voters and the national delegations are weighted by population size. In national legislatures, deviations from equal power tend to be to the advantage of the lower house. In ' the EU it is the other way around: the upper house (Council) is considerably more powerful than the lower house (Parlia— mentJ—not fully in accordance with the consensus model, but It even less with the majoritarian model.3 ,v; 8. Constitutional rigidity. The EU’s “constitution” consists of the founding Treaty of the European Economic Community, signed in Rome in 1957, and a series of both earlier and subse- quent treaties. Because these are international treaties, they can be changed only with the consent of all of the signatories. Hence they are extremely rigid. In addition, most important decisions in the Council require unanimity; on less important matters, it has become more common since the 1980s to make decisions by 3. Another notable example of at least a slight asymmetry favoring the upper‘q’ home is the U.S. Congress in which the Senate has special powers over treaties and appointments. fl 1. I 46 CONSENSUS MODEL “qualified majority voting,” that is, by roughly two-thirds major. ities and by means of a weighted voting system (similar to the weighted allocation of seats in the European Parliament). 9. Judicial review. A key EU institution is the European Court of Justice. The Court has the right of judicial review and can declare both EU laws and national laws unconstitutional if they violate the various EU treaties. Moreover, the Court’s approach to its judicial tasks has been creative and activist. Martin Sha. piro and Alec Stone (1994, 408) write that “clearly the two most politically influential constitutional courts in Europe are those of Germany and the Community [EU]. . . . There are few in- stances as observable and as important as the EC} [European Court of Justice] case of a court building itself as a political institution, and building the whole set of institutions of which it is a part.” 1 0. Central bankindependence. The European Central Bank, which started operating in 1998, was designed to be a highly independent central bank; indeed, the Economist (November 8, 1997) wrote that “its constitution makes it the most indepen- dent central bank in the world.” However, its independence was compromised to some extent when the first bank president was appointed in 1998. In order to maximize the president’s author~ ity, the appointment is formally for an eight~year term, but the first president had to pledge to resign well before the end of his term, probably after about four years, as part of a political deal between France, which had insisted on its own candidate, and the other EU members. In the beginning of this chapter, I emphasized that the majori- tarian model was incompatible with the needs of deeply di- vided, plural societies. The EU is clearly such a plural society: “Deep—seated and long—standing national differences, of which language is only one, have not and will not disappear in Europe” (Kirchner 1994, 263). Hence it is not surprising that the EU’s ' institutions conform largely to the consensus instead of the ma- joritarian model. Many observers predict that the EU will even— CONSENSUS MODEL 47 many become a federal state, especially as a result of the adop~ tion of a common currency. For instance, Martin F eldstein (199 7, 50) asserts that the “fundamental long—term effect of adopting a single currency [will] be the creation of a political union, a Euro— Pean federal state with responsibility for a Europe—Wide foreign and security policy as well as for what are now domestic eco— 110ij and social policies.” If and when the EU develops into a sovereign European state, its institutions are likely to change—- the European Parliament, for instance, will probably become a more pOWerful legislative chamber—but it is not likely to stray far from the conSensus model, and it is almost certain to take the form of a federal United States of Europe. ...
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Lijphart_PatternsOfDemocracy - : Patterns of Democracy...

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