|Table of contents
|Story of Belgium and Sri Lanka
|Majoritarianism in Sri Lanka
|Accommodation in Belgium
|Why is power sharing desirable?
|Forms of Power-Sharing
|Important Terms to Remember
|Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
In a democracy all power does not rest with any one organ of the government. An intelligent sharing of power among the legislature, executive and judiciary is very important for the design of democracy.
Why is power sharing desirable?
- Power-sharing is good because it helps to reduce the possibility of conflict between social groups.
- The second reason is that, a democratic rule involves sharing power with those affected by its exercise, and who have to live with its effects. People have a right to be consulted on how they are to be governed.
- Let us call the first set of reasons Prudential and the second moral. The prudential reasons stress that power-sharing will bring out better outcomes, whereas the moral reasons emphasize the act of power-sharing as valuable.
Q.1. How did the Sri Lankan and the Belgium governments try to solve the ethnic problem?
The Belgium leaders tried to solve the ethnic problem by respecting the feelings and interests of different communities and regions, whereas the Sri Lanka Government tried to solve the problem through majoritarianism. The Belgium solution helped in avoiding civic strife, whereas the majoritarianism in Sri Lanka led to the civil war.
Q.2. Explain the prudential reasons for Power-sharing.
- Power-sharing is desirable because it helps to reduce the possibility of conflict between the various social groups. Since social conflict often leads to violence and political instability, power-sharing is a good way to ensure political stability.
- Imposing the will of the majority community over the minority may look like an attractive option in the short run, but in the long run, it undermines the unity of the nation. Tyranny of the majority is not just oppressive for the minority, it often brings ruin to the majority as well.
Q.3. Explain the moral reason for power-sharing.
Power-sharing is the basic spirit of democracy. A democratic rule involves sharing of power with those affected by its exercise, and who have to live with its effects.
The basic principles of power-sharing include:
(i) Government of different political parties, i.e., a coalition government.
(ii) Protection of minority rights.
(iii) Decentralization of power.
Q.4. What is power-sharing?
- Power-sharing is a strategy under which all the major segments of the society are provided with a permanent share of power in the governance of the country.
- It is a potential tool for solving disputes in a society divided by deep ethnic, cultural, or racial differences by giving the parties involved, a wide range of power-sharing to ameliorate the tensions through consensus-oriented governance.
- It involves a wide array of political arrangements– usually embodied in constitutional terms– in which the principal elements of society are guaranteed a place and influence, in governance. It relies on joint exercise of power where all principal groups are given a permanent share in the governance.
Q.5. Mention the steps taken by the Sri Lankan government to achieve majoritarianism.
(i) In 1956, an Act was passed under which English was replaced as the country’s official language not by Sinhala and Tamil but by Sinhala only.
(ii) The governments followed preferential policies that favoured Sinhala applicants for university positions and government jobs.
(iii) A new constitution was stipulated that the state shall protect and foster Buddhism.
(iv) Denial of citizenship to estate Tamils.
Q.6. Why is power sharing desirable?
(i) To avoid conflict: It reduces the possibility of conflict between the various social groups. Since social conflict often leads to violence and political instability, power-sharing is a good way to ensure political stability.
Imposing the will of the majority community over the minority may look like an attractive option in the short run, but in long run, it undermines the unity of the nation. Tyranny of the majority is not just oppressive for the minority, it often brings ruin to the majority as well.
(ii) Spirit of democracy: Power sharing is the basic spirit of democracy. A democratic rule involves the sharing of power with those affected by its exercise and those who have to live with its effects. A democratic government is chosen by the people. So they are to be governed. A legitimate government is one where groups, through participation acquire a stake in the system.
Q.7. Explain the difference between horizontal and vertical power-sharing.
1. Horizontal Power sharing
(i) Under horizontal power-sharing, power is shared among different organs of government such as the legislature, executive, and judiciary.
(ii) Under horizontal distribution of power, organs of the government are placed at the same level to exercise different powers.
(iii) Under horizontal power-sharing, each organ checks the other.
2. Vertical Power sharingFig. Vertical power-sharing
(i) Under the vertical sharing power, power is shared among the different levels of the governments.
(ii) The vertical division of power involves the highest and the lower levels of government.
(iii) Under vertical power-sharing the lower organs work under the higher organs.
Q.8. Explain the power-sharing arrangements among the political parties and pressure groups.
- In a democracy, power is also shared among different political parties, pressure groups and movements.
- Democracy provides the citizens with a choice to choose their rulers. This choice is provided by the various political parties, who contest elections to win them. Such competition ensures that power does not remain in one hand.
- In the long run, power is shared among the different political parties that represent different ideologies and social groups. Sometimes, this kind of sharing can be direct, when two or more parties form an alliance to contest elections. If their alliance is elected, they form a coalition government and thus share power.
- In a democracy, various pressure groups and movements also remain active. They also have a share in governmental power, either through participation in governmental committees or having an influence on the decision-making process.
Q.9. How is a federal government better than a unitary government? Explain with examples of Belgium and Sri Lanka.
Federalism is a system of government under which power is divided between central authority and its various constituent units. The Belgium leaders tried to solve the ethnic problem by respecting communities and regions by establishing a federal government, whereas the Sri Lankan government tried to solve the problem through majoritarianism.
The Belgium solution helped in avoiding civic strife, whereas the majoritarianism in Sri Lanka led to the civil war.
|1. What is power sharing and why is it desirable?
|2. What is majoritarianism and how did it affect Sri Lanka?
|3. How did Belgium accommodate its linguistic and cultural diversity?
|4. What are the different forms of power sharing?
|5. What are some important terms related to power sharing?