2017 | Tom 1 | 65-88
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Inclusion and Power-Sharing in Pacific Asia: From Consociationalism to Centripetalism

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This paper looks at the changing nature of political power-sharing in the Asia-Pacific region, characterised by the ethnically-plural democracies and semi-democracies, and it reviews several cases in terms of their institutional structures and mechanisms adopted for the purpose of political inclusion. The paper states that the classic consensual recommendations of parliamentary rule, proportional elections and ethnic parties have been abandoned in favour of more majoritarian and multiethnic models of governance. In this shift from one model of power-sharing to another, political inclusion in Southeast Asia then increasingly takes place informally, through centripetal rather than consociational means, via some key institutional mechanisms: oversized but not grand coalition governments; aggregative rather than segmental political parties; ethnically-mixed federal or other sub-national jurisdictional units; and majoritarian, vote-pooling political institutions. As a result, this “Asian model” of political inclusion stands in contrast and in many ways in opposition to the classic consensual recommendations.
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  • See, for instance, William Case, Elites and Regimes in Malaysia: Revisiting a Consociational Democracy Monash: Monash Asia Institute, 1996.
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  • A subject I cover in more detail in my chapter ‘Parties, Electoral Systems and Governance’ in Democracy in East Asia – A New Century, Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner and Yun-han Chu (eds), Baltimore Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013.
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