Preferences for Consensus and Majoritarian Democracy: Long- and Short-Term Influences

Forthcoming at the European Political Science Review

With Mónica Ferrín

This article analyzes individuals’ preferences for a consensus or a majoritarian type of democracy. We theorize that variation in these preferences is a function of both institutional learning (long-term) and individuals’ position as a political minority or majority (short-term). First, as a result of institutional learning, we expect that individuals living in democracies characterized by coalition governments will favor consensus democracy. Conversely, those living in countries characterized by single-party executives will favor majoritarian democracy. Second, we expect that individuals’ position as an electoral minority or majority will affect these beliefs. Those who vote for small parties will favor a consensus democracy while those who vote for large parties will support a majoritarian system. However, whether institutional learning or individuals’ position as a political minority or majority prevail in influencing these preferences about the ideal model of democracy will be a function of the democratic trajectory of each country. We test these arguments drawing on data from the European Social Survey.

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