Making representative politics work: cross-segmental parties in consociations

Timofey Agarin*, Henry Jarrett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Cross-segmental parties are outliers in consociations dominated by ethnic parties. While they often receive comparatively limited electoral support, they have the ability to make representative politics work. Cross-segmental parties can successfully represent cross-communal interests and encourage governments to focus on non-segmental issues by bringing their ‘second policy dimension’ to the attention of segmental parties and encouraging ‘issue seepage’. To demonstrate this phenomenon, we draw on evidence from these parties in cases such as Northern Ireland, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lebanon and South Tyrol, and argue that we need to look beyond election results to gauge their ‘success’. We identify three key areas – electoral dynamics, interactions in legislatures and contribution to government – where cross-segmental, not segmental, parties can make representation work in consociations. This is true not only in liberal consociations that (can) explicitly accommodate cross-segmental interests in legislative and executive arrangements but also in corporate consociations where formal accommodation does not exist.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-24
Number of pages20
JournalSwiss Political Science Review
Issue number1
Early online date26 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2023


  • consociational power-sharing
  • segmental parties
  • Cross-segmental parties
  • representative democracy
  • second policy dimension
  • issue seepage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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