Skip to Content


Questioning Representation in Powersharing Systems

Representation of all interests held by people affected by decision-making is one of the core democratic principles - including individuals with significant political identities in the decision-making process is the cornerstone of power-sharing democracy. However, despite the institutional commitment to bringing the voices of formerly conflicting parties into politics and the global spread of power-sharing arrangements, consociational democracy has gained increasing attention for making an intricate trade-off: On the one hand, power-sharing entrenches stability by bringing groups to power, where in the past they fought each other, oftentimes violently. On the other hand, it conveniently overlooks the under-representation of communities, identities and preferences that are not deemed politically salient.

During the seminar, we will be engaging with the question of representation in diverse consociational democracies. Since power-sharing is a set of inclusive institutions which help establish and support democracy for plural societies, as Lijphart has originally suggested, we firstly focus on the way representation works in such places. In order to assess institutional mechanisms available for inclusion of as diverse sets of opinions as possible, the complex societal reality frequently remains strategically neglected. Secondly, the presentation will problematize institutional undergirding, such as ad hoc inclusion of some groups and implicit exclusion of others. And thirdly, we question the relevance of segmental autonomy as a hindrance for better and that is more effective representation of diverse societal interests in decision-making in consociations.  This seminar is designed as a roundtable discussion with three early career academics, working on cases as diverse as Bosnia and Mauritius, Northern Ireland and South Tyrol.

  • Young People and ‘Opportunistic Alignment’ in Bosnia-Herzegovina and South Tyrol - Dr Arianna Piacentini (University of Bologna)
  • The Power-Sharing Lifecycle of Mauritius: Prospects and Complexities - Sheetal Sheena Sookrajowa (University of Mauritius/ PhD Candidate University of Cape Town, South Africa)
  • Failure to Become Representative: Green Party NI and the Lough Neagh ecological crisis - Patrizia John (PhD candidate, HAPP QUB)

Sheetal Sheena Sookrajowa, University of Mauritius, Dr Arianna Piacentini, University of Bologna, and Patrizia John, PhD student at HAPP QUB have researched representation in powersharing places, and will explore in their presentations how their work agenda on representation has developed over time. We welcome MA and PhD students who would like to join this roundtable discussion where speakers will be talking about their research subjects, their research approaches and research methodologies, allowing everyone to reflect on challenges and opportunities of undertaking independent research.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me: Timofey Agarin


27 University Square/01/003

16:30 – 18:00, Thursday October 19