Originally from the Netherlands, Arend Lijphart, a politicalscientist who specializes in comparative politics, is a firm advocate for theconsensus form of democracy. He developed ten characteristics to differentiatebetween consensus and majoritarian democracies. These are split between twodimensions; the executives-parties dimension and the federal-unitary dimension,with five characteristics in each. The first characteristic is concentration ofexecutive power in single-party majority cabinets versus executivepower-sharing in broad multi-party coalitions.
The second isexecutive-legislative relationships in which the executive is dominant versusexecutive legislative balance of power. Thirdly, two-party versus multi-partysystems. The fourth is majoritarian and disproportional electoral systemsversus proportional representation.
The fifth characteristic focuses onpluralist versus corporatist interest groups. Sixthly, in the second dimension,is unitary and centralized government versus federal and decentralizedgovernment. The seventh is concentration of legislative power in a unicamerallegislature versus the division of legislative power between two equally strongbut differently constituted houses.
The eighth characteristic is flexibleversus rigid constitutions. The ninth characteristic, Lijphart looks at systemsin which legislatures have the final word on the constitutionality of their ownlegislation versus systems in which laws are subject to a judicial review oftheir constitutionality by supreme courts. Finally, we have central bankdependency on the executive versus central bank independence.
These characteristicswere seen to be some of the most coherent and useful characteristics, and manycontemporaries have based their research on Lijphart’s work. However, it willbe argued in this essay that while they are a solid basis for conductingresearch, they do not yield an exhaustive list of the various types ofdemocratic political systems which exist in the world today.