The calculus of consensus democracy: rethinking patterns of democracy without veto players

Anthony J. McGann, Michael Latner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


We present a theory of comparative political institutions based on the concept of consensus democracy and social choice theory. Unlike Lijphart, we argue that consensus democracy is not a special form of democracy characterized by mutual vetoes, but rather the simplest form of democracy, which we refer to as PR-majority rule. We construct a typology of political institutions based on differences with this simple model. Contra Tsebelis's veto players approach, our theory predicts that PR-majority rule should be the most flexible form of democracy. We test this with data on overall patterns of government spending and on welfare state reform.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-850
Number of pages28
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • systems
  • governance
  • proportional representation
  • veto players
  • decision-making
  • politics
  • institutions
  • consensus
  • welfare-state
  • majority-rule
  • democracy
  • uncovered set

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