Consociationalism is Dead! Long Live Zombie Power-Sharing

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Scholars argue that consociationalism has become the preferred institutional tool ofchoice for the international community when seeking an end to civil war. This paperargues that consociationalism is increasingly becoming redundant as aninstitutional apparatus to end violent conflict linked to intra‐state conflict. Overthe last few decades divided societies have been subjected to consociationalinfluence. In many places consociational institutions have long since ceasedfunctioning in a way that is healthy for the body politic, yet somehowconsociationalism remains dominant both for policy prescription and in academicthinking. While consociationalism was once understood by institutionaldesigners to be transformative, facilitating a transition to a less sectarian system,the reverse is true. Rather than transformation and change, consociations tend todevelop ossified properties rendering them resistant to practically any reform.Summoning the image of the zombie, I note that consociationalism is ‘dead butdominant’ and has to defend itself through increasingly authoritarian statecraft.Consociationalism is thus neither dead nor alive, but walking dead, listlesslystumbling from one crisis to the next. Each crisis is experienced contingentlywith the feeling that something could happen – that something could change – verysoon, even as routine prevails in the face of an increasingly defensive state.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-144
Number of pages8
JournalStudies in Ethnicity and Nationalism
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2020


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