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Swiss consensus democracy in transition. A re-analysis of Lijphart's concept of democracy for Switzerland from 1997 to 2007


Vatter, A (2008). Swiss consensus democracy in transition. A re-analysis of Lijphart's concept of democracy for Switzerland from 1997 to 2007. World Political Science Review, 4(2):1-38.

Abstract

The present article addresses the question of whether Switzerland can continue to be seen as an extreme case of federal consensus democracy, as illustrated by Arend Lijphart (1999). A re-analysis of Lijphart's (1999) study of the Swiss political system from 1997 to 2007 clearly demonstrates that due to recent political-institutional changes (a decreasing number of parties, growing electoral disproportionality, increasing decentralization and deregulation of the relationship between the state and interest groups), a consensus democracy with strong tendencies toward adjustment and normalization of the original exceptional Swiss case to meet the rest of the continental European consensus democracies has emerged. This development has been further strengthened by intensified public political contestation, rising polarization between the political camps in parliament, and the weakening of the cooperative search for consensus as the dominant mode of negotiation within the government. From the perspective of international comparison, Switzerland can thus be seen henceforth as a typical example, not an extreme case, of consensus democracy.

The present article addresses the question of whether Switzerland can continue to be seen as an extreme case of federal consensus democracy, as illustrated by Arend Lijphart (1999). A re-analysis of Lijphart's (1999) study of the Swiss political system from 1997 to 2007 clearly demonstrates that due to recent political-institutional changes (a decreasing number of parties, growing electoral disproportionality, increasing decentralization and deregulation of the relationship between the state and interest groups), a consensus democracy with strong tendencies toward adjustment and normalization of the original exceptional Swiss case to meet the rest of the continental European consensus democracies has emerged. This development has been further strengthened by intensified public political contestation, rising polarization between the political camps in parliament, and the weakening of the cooperative search for consensus as the dominant mode of negotiation within the government. From the perspective of international comparison, Switzerland can thus be seen henceforth as a typical example, not an extreme case, of consensus democracy.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Language:English
Date:2008
Deposited On:23 Dec 2008 16:44
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:39
Publisher:Berkeley Electronic Press
ISSN:1935-6226
Official URL:http://www.bepress.com/wpsr/vol4/iss2/art1
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-7130

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