Some of Consociation’s Most Celebrated Successes: Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Austria

  • Brighid Brooks Kelly


The histories of Austria, the Netherlands, and Switzerland are often cited as exemplifying the profound, positive impact of consociation in plural societies. Austria clearly achieved, and has maintained, stability since consociational elements were introduced there after World War II. However, the country’s experience does not seem relevant to evaluation of consociational theory because Austrian society at that time did not fit Lijphart’s definition of a plural society. The two such societies in which consociation seems to have promoted stability best, Switzerland and the Netherlands, have been governed by systems combining segmental autonomy with additional incentives for policy moderation. Some of these motivating factors include cross-cutting cleavages, state-directed patriotism, and majoritarian referendums.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Brighid Brooks Kelly
    • 1
  1. 1.Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of DemocracyUniversity of PennsylvaniaSwarthmoreUSA

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