Major Papers


Consociational, De-Consociational, Comparison, Netherlands, Belgium, Lebanon


Consociational democracy is a system of government outlined by Arend Lijphart in response to the mystery of the stability of the democratic systems of several small Western-European states despite their intense societal divides. In the years since he outlined these states’ consociational systems, much has changed. The question thus must be asked – is it possible to transition from a Consociational democracy with a focus on consensus-building to a more majoritarian political system that emphasizes competition between parties? This question will be addressed by a study of three states – the Netherlands, Belgium, and Lebanon. The Netherlands has transitioned successfully from a consociational democracy to a more competitive system, and Belgium and Lebanon have remained consociational. The political and social structures will be examined to determine what allowed for the Netherlands to transition and what stopped Belgium and Lebanon from doing so as well. Ultimately, it appears as if the Dutch divisions within society have successfully been mediated to such a degree that they no longer cause intense political tension, whereas this is not the case in Belgium and Lebanon.

Primary Advisor

Dr. Tom Najem

Program Reader

Dr. John Sutcliffe

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

Document Type

Major Research Paper

Convocation Year