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Consensus democracy is the application of consensus decision making to the process of legislation in a democracy. It is characterised by a decision-making structure which involves and takes into account as broad a range of opinions as possible, as opposed to systems where minority opinions can potentially be ignored by vote-winning majorities.[1]

Consensus democracy also features increased citizen participation both in determining the political agenda and in the decision making process itself. Some have pointed to developments in information and communication technology as potential facilitators of such systems.



Consensus democracy is most closely embodied in certain countries such as Switzerland, Lebanon, Sweden and Belgium, where consensus is an important feature of political culture, particularly with a view to preventing the domination of one linguistic or cultural group in the political process.[2] The term consociational state is used in political science to describe countries with such consensus based political systems. An example of such a system could be the Dutch Poldermodel.

In Canada, the territorial governments of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut also operate on a non-partisan consensus government model, unlike the oppositional political party structure that prevails elsewhere in Canada.

Consensus (non-party) government also operates in Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Guernsey also operates a non-ministerial system of government in which government departments are headed not by ministers with executive authority, but by boards or committees of five members. A proposition to introduce executive/cabinet-style government was heavily defeated in the States of Deliberation (Guernsey's parliament) when the matter was last debated in 2002.

See also


  1. ^ Glossary definition from Direct Democracy in Switzerland
  2. ^ Lijphart, A., Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms & Performance in Thirty-six Countries. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-300-07893-5

External links



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