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Consensus Democracies and Majoritarian Systems

            Lijphart highlights ten differences between consensus and majoritarian democracies, five of which identify with the executives-parties dimension and the other five with the federal-unitary dimension. The differences on the executives-parties dimension are given below with the majoritarian characteristic listed first in each case:.
             1. Concentration of executive power in one party vs executive power shared in multiparty coalitions.
             2. Executive more dominant vs executive-legislative balance of power.
             3. Two-party system vs multiparty system.
             4. Majoritarian and disproportional electoral system vs proportional representation.
             5. Pluralist interest group system with free-for-all competition among groups vs coordinated and 'corporatist' interest group systems aimed at compromise and concertation.
             On the federal-unitary level the distinctions include:.
             1. Unitary and centralized government vs federal and decentralized government.
             2. Concentration of legislative power in unicameral legislature vs strong bicameralism.
             3. Constitutional flexibility vs constitutional rigidity.
             4. Absence of judicial review vs judicial review.
             5. A central bank controlled by the executive vs central bank independence.
             Source: Lijphart, 1999, pp. 3-4.
             In essence, majoritarian systems are governed by and act in the interests of a majority, while consensus systems seek to represent as many people as possible (Lijphart, 1999, p.2). To assess the democratic performance of both systems I will use a criterion of four indicators, these being: participation, competition, corruption and women's representation. While I acknowledge that many other indicators can and have been used (see for example Gwiazda 2016; Lijphart 1999; Diamond and Morlino 2005), I have limited the criteria to these four due to constraints of time. To answer the question of which system performs better I will compare the democratic performance of the UK and the Netherlands, who have a majoritarian and consensus system respectively, by assessing them against the four indicators.

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