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Examining Lijphart's favourable factors for consociational democracy: Guyana

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Since the late 1950s, the competition for state power under a Westminster majoritarian system in Guyana between Indo-Guyanese (East Indians) and Afro-Guyanese (Africans/Blacks) has produced social conflict, political instability and intermittent inter-ethnic violence. Unsurprisingly, it has long been proposed that the country's ethnic problem could most effectively be solved through the establishment of a government of national unity or executive power-sharing. Passions, prejudices and political calculations, however, dominate the ‘academic’ debate, resulting in a research void on the applicability of power-sharing models to Guyana. In particular, Lijphart's consociational democratic model has been considered suitable for Guyana with only infrequent attempts to explore its empirical and theoretical implications. This paper assesses how Guyana measures up against Lijphart's nine factors favourable for the emergence and maintenance of consociational democracy, demonstrating that Guyana possesses the majority of these. This positive overall score suggests that a government of national unity could be viable. Nevertheless, executive power-sharing has not materialised. Some inhibiting factors are discussed.
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Keywords: consociational democracy; ethnic rivalry; national unity; power-sharing; winner-take-all

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Technology, University of Guyana, Turkeyen Campus, Guyana

Publication date: July 1, 2013

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