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Competitive Consensus: what comes after Consociationalism in Switzerland?


Bochsler, Daniel; Bousbah, Karima (2015). Competitive Consensus: what comes after Consociationalism in Switzerland? Swiss Political Science Review = Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, 21(4):654-674.

Abstract

Large coalition governments, including all relevant parties, are at the heart of the consociational model of Swiss democracy. Until the 1990s, this model was characterised as “voluntary proportional”. It was based on a stable cooperation of two main blocs of political parties, and on elite-driven agreements on all-inclusive government formulas. Despite growing competition in governmental elections, all-party coalitions have survived in most cantons. This article explains that the political minority could keep and even improve its representation, as a consequence of the divisions in the political majority. While right-wing parties hold the majority in almost all Swiss cantons and at the federal level, they are no longer sufficiently cohesive to control the elections. As a consequence, elections have become more uncertain, and political minorities can capitalise on this in order to win seats. Empirically, this paper investigates elections for Swiss cantonal governments in the period 1971–2011. It combines data on the unity of political blocs with data on government formation. To measure the political unity of the blocs, the paper introduces a novel measure based on the voting recommendations issued by cantonal parties on the occasion of national referendums.

Abstract

Large coalition governments, including all relevant parties, are at the heart of the consociational model of Swiss democracy. Until the 1990s, this model was characterised as “voluntary proportional”. It was based on a stable cooperation of two main blocs of political parties, and on elite-driven agreements on all-inclusive government formulas. Despite growing competition in governmental elections, all-party coalitions have survived in most cantons. This article explains that the political minority could keep and even improve its representation, as a consequence of the divisions in the political majority. While right-wing parties hold the majority in almost all Swiss cantons and at the federal level, they are no longer sufficiently cohesive to control the elections. As a consequence, elections have become more uncertain, and political minorities can capitalise on this in order to win seats. Empirically, this paper investigates elections for Swiss cantonal governments in the period 1971–2011. It combines data on the unity of political blocs with data on government formation. To measure the political unity of the blocs, the paper introduces a novel measure based on the voting recommendations issued by cantonal parties on the occasion of national referendums.

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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
Uncontrolled Keywords:Consensus democracy, coalitions, multi-member districts, Switzerland, proportionality
Language:English
Date:December 2015
Deposited On:28 Dec 2015 10:08
Last Modified:14 Feb 2018 10:16
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1424-7755
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/spsr.12177
Official URL:http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/spsr.12177/pdf
Related URLs:http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/spsr.2015.21.issue-4/issuetoc

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