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  A concept and practice of governance based on the idea of working towards political consent among leaders drawn from differing political communities of a polity, based on linguistic, religious or regional differences, in which the overriding objective is to ensure a politically stable and effectively functioning democracy. As a form of spatial governance, it has at one time or another been most closely associated with the politics of managing difference in Belgium, Bosnia, Holland, Northern Ireland and Switzerland. To succeed, political elites must possess the ability to accommodate divergent interests, transcend the most salient cultural cleavages, be committed to state cohesion, and reflect support both from and within each sector of their divergent communities. The politicization of ethnoregional and other cultural divisions, however, questions the effectiveness of consociationalism as a form of conflict management. (See also geo-governance; language and dialect, geography of; multiculturalism; pluralism; religion, geography of.) (GES)

Suggested Reading Barry, B. 1995: Political accommodation and consociational democracy. In Democracy and power: essays in political theory 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 100-35. McGarry, J. and O\'Leary, B. 1993: The politics of ethnic conflict regulation London: Routledge. Lijphart, A. 1977: Democracy in plural societies. New Haven: Yale University Press.



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