The Paradox of Direct Democracy and Elite Accommodation: The Case of Switzerland

  • Matt Qvortrup
Part of the International Political Theory book series (IPoT)


Drawing on Lijphart’s classic model of consociationalism, this chapter outlines the relationship between consociationalism and presents a tour d’horizon of referendums in consociational systems. It is shown that referendums on constitutional settlements can strengthen the legitimacy of these settlements. Further, a case study of Switzerland suggests that mechanisms of direct democracy have given citizens and civil society groups a vehicle for providing input into the elite-dominated system. The referendum has not undermined consociationalism; rather the device has strengthened the system’s legitimacy. The chapter elaborates on whether it might be a good idea to introduce this mechanism in Northern Ireland.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matt Qvortrup
    • 1
  1. 1.CTPSR, Coventry UniversityCoventryUK

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