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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 28, 2008

Swiss Consensus Democracy in Transition: A Re-analysis of Lijphart's Concept of Democracy for Switzerland from 1997 to 2007

  • Adrian Vatter
From the journal World Political Science

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.

Published Online: 2008-7-28

©2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston

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