Consociational Democracy for Rwanda?

  • Stef Vandeginste
  • Luc Huyse


How can (deeply) divided societies be politically organized in such a way as to foster a stable and democratic power-sharing? This is the lead question that political scientists have been trying to answer in the late 1960s, when the first scientific comparative analyses of consociational systems were published.1 Deeply divided societies — or, in the initial American literature, ‘plural societies’ — are societies where political divisions follow very closely lines of objective social differentiation or ‘cleavages’ that can be of a religious, ideological, linguistic, regional, cultural, ethnic or other nature. Not only the political landscape, but society as a whole (interest groups, media, workers’ associations and other components of civil society) is structured and divided along the lines of cleavages, which are therefore called ‘segmental’ cleavages, with ‘segments’ referring to those groups of the population bounded by such cleavages.


Grand Coalition Political Regime National Unity Transitional Justice Plural Society 
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© Stef Vandeginste and Luc Huyse 2005

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  • Stef Vandeginste
  • Luc Huyse

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