Majoritarian Democracy

… a core concept used in Policy Analysis and Process and Atlas101

Concept description

Wikipedia defines majoritarian democracy as “democracy based upon majority rule of a society’s citizens” noting that although it is the conventional form of democracy in many countries majoritarian democracy has been criticized as having the inherent danger of becoming a “tyranny of the majority” whereby the majority in society could oppress or exclude minority groups.

Majoritarian democracy vs. consensus democracy

Wikipedia suggests that:

“In contrast to majoritarian democracy and the perceived danger of a tyranny of the majority, consensus democracy was developed in response that emphasizes rule by as many people as possible to make government inclusive, with a majority of support from society merely being a minimal threshold.”

Arend Lijhart, in an article on the Parliament of Australia website (reference below) asserts that:

“In majoritarian, Westminster-style, democracy, power is concentrated in the hands of the majority, and majoritarian democracy has the following institutional characteristics:

  1. one-party majority cabinets,
  2. executive dominance over the legislature,
  3. two-party systems,
  4. majoritarian and disproportional electoral systems, and
  5. pluralist interest group systems with free-for-all competition among groups.

“Consensus democracy, in contrast, is characterised by sharing, dispersing, and limiting power instead of concentrating power, and it has the following typical features:

  1. executive power-sharing in broad multi-party coalitions,
  2. executive-legislative balance of power,
  3. multi-party systems,
  4. proportional representation (PR), and
  5. a coordinated, “corporatist” interest group system aimed at compromise and concertation.

Wikipedia, majoritarian democracy, at, accessed 25 August 2018.

Arend Lijphart, Australian Democracy: Modifying Majoritarianism, at, accessed 25 August 2018.

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Interests and the Policy Process (core topic) in Policy Analysis and Process and Atlas101.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified by  on 25 August 2018.

Image: The Companion, at, accessed 25 August 2018.