Consociational Democracy In The Multiethnic Societies Politics Essay

Most regimes today regard themselves as either democratic or as moving towards the establishment of democracy. This universal praise of democracy has produced considerable confusion in the use of the concept, since large differences clearly exist between these self-styled democratic political systems (Bobbio 1987). But as Sartori once puts “for every human problem there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong” (Sartori 1994).

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Following a six-month armed confrontation between the Albanian paramilitary force the National Liberation Army (NLA) and the Macedonian state, we can conclude that the best strategy to achieve peace in postconflict society would be to establish a democracy. Nonetheless, not all types of democracy are equally suitable.

The central question of this research is, inter alia, to what extend can consociatonal democracy serve as the appropriate democratic form to divided and multiethnic societies? Because of its strict normative prescriptions and methodological challenges, consociational democracy has become one of the most controversial theories in political theory. Consociatonal democracy means government by elite cartel designed to turn democracy with a fragmented political culture into a stable democracy (Lijphart: 1969). [1] Gerhard Lehmbruch had describe consociational democracy as a possible alternative to majoritarian forms of democracy (Lehmbruch 1967). Further, a comprehensive debate about the concept and its applicability took place (Nordlinger 1972, Barry 1975, Lijphart 1977 and Lustick 1979). Most of consociational scholars, and their critics, share this often quoted core of definition and its validity, that the consociational democracy served initially as an explanation of political stability in a few deeply divided European democracies. It argued that in these countries, the destabilizing effects of sub-cultural segmentation are neutralized at the elite level by embracing of the power-sharing among different segments in society. But, would the concept work in countries that are divided more deeply, where many of which had an ethnic dimension? The new situation in radically segmented societies is different from what was elaborated by the pluralistic theories (Dahl, Trumman) assumed that societies consist relatively homogen political culture and “basic consensus” of the whole politics. Even in such a scheme, there are key “value and procedural vertical lines” and direct links between the citizens and the central institutions of the system. Harry Eckstein calls these lines “segmental cleavages”, which dominate over the political life and democracy. These segmental cleavages may be of a religious, ideological, linguistic, cultural, racial or ethnic nature. [2] In these societies, what have strong vertical clearages, in which people’s contacts and identification are largely within their own sub-society, Lijphart believes that consociational democracy is democracy that modifies its majoritarian principles to acknowledge the interests of these separate segments. Here, we have not to forget, as Lijphart clarified that elite cooperation is the primary distinguishing feature of consociational democracy (Lijphart 1977). There is no sceptic that considering the concept of reinforcing cleavages, it is argued that in societies with different subcultures, political consensus is very difficult to reach (Dahl 1989) or when an individual belongs to a variety of groups that all predispose him toward the same political choice, political issues cannot easily be compromised.

Part of this paper shall be dedicated to the concept of multiethnic societies with the special analysis of the situation of interethnic relations in Macedonia. From a theoretical point of view, the development and stabilization of democracy in multiethnic societies have become the core issue of modern theory of democracy. This touches the knotty question of every democracy: the individuality of the sovereign citizens and his relation towards the collective spirit of the group to which the ethnically belongs, and further, to the state institution. Namely, is democracy possible if composed of groups that are organized on the basis of different organizational principles and value principles (some of them may be even radically undemocratic and anti-individualistic?) [3] . Multiethnic society is a society in which there are two or more ethnic groups, which are different in ethnic, linguistic, religious and racial sense. People who belong to groups view themselves as different cultural communities, think of this difference to be important and try to preserve and develop it. In some cases, that struggle for preserving the particularity becomes negatively democracies, as a hostility or growing negative feelings towards persons belonging to other ethnic groups. [4] Multiethnic societies, that are a rule, need not and most often do not develop into multiethnic democracies. [5] Namely, most of the multiethnic societies develop civil democracy, with dominant legal position of the sovereign citizen, where ethnic differences are located in the sphere of culture, education and civil society. [6] The difficulties and challenge of democracy functioning in ethnically plural societies (segmented, plural or divided) are well-known from the vary onset of formulating the theory of democracy (Lijphart, 1977). John S.Mill expresses it through a thesis that “democracy is almost impossible in societies having different linguistic, ethnic groups and divisions..” (Mill 1861). As a solution to the presence of tension and conflict of interest and myths, four ways of elimination of political conflicts and their consequences in multiethnic societies are usually referred to: division of power-in the sense of consociational democracy; the so-called control theory of division of power-possible internal self-determination; clear majority control and division of the power through various forms of decentralization-internal self-determination.

In this paper I will try to give analysis of the first mention solution of elimination of political conflict in Macedonia, in 2001 via its Framework Agrement. We will be concentrated on Lijphart’s main political characteristics of consociational democracy: government by a grand coalition, in the example of Macedonian wide coalition through the crises; [7] than with a proportional representation, segmental autonomy and mutual veto.

In the following pages the paper aims at explaining why the consociational democracy is the most suitable form of democracy when it comes to establish lasting peace in postconflict societies. Its comes to hypothesis: the probability of lasting peace is greater in a postconflict society with power-sharing than in such a society without power-sharing institutions. I agree with Robert Dahl that an institution has been settled for a long time, whereas arrangements are more provisional and practices somewhere in-between (Dahl 1998).

The paper gives an answer to the central question whether consociational democracy is appropriate model to accommodate the diverse interests and cultures of groups in a multiethnic society as is Macedonian. Also, consociational democracy has limits. Typically, critics oppose these model of democracy because they believe it privileges certain divisive identities (such a ethnicity) over other integrating identities.

Macedonian case improved these thesis.