Arend Lijphart

Arend d'Angremond Lijphart
Born (1936-08-17) 17 August 1936
Apeldoorn, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch, American (dual)
Fields Political science
Institutions University of California, San Diego
Alma mater Principia College, Yale University
Known for Patterns of Democracy
Notable awards President of APSA (1995–1996)
Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science (1997)
honorary doctorates from University of Leiden (2001), Queen's University Belfast (2004), Ghent University (2009)
Honorary Fellow of Coventry University (2015)

Arend d'Angremond Lijphart (born 17 August 1936, Apeldoorn, Netherlands) is a political scientist specializing in comparative politics, elections and voting systems, democratic institutions, and ethnicity and politics. He received his PhD in Political Science at Yale University in 1963, after studying at Principia College from 1955 to 1958. He is currently Research Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. Dutch by birth, he has spent most of his working life in the United States and is an American citizen. He has since regained his Dutch citizenship and is now a dual citizen of both the Netherlands and the United States.

Major works

Lijphart is the leading authority on consociationalism, or the ways in which segmented societies manage to sustain democracy through power-sharing. Lijphart developed this concept in his first major work, The Politics of Accommodation, a study of the Dutch political system, and further developed his arguments in Democracy in Plural Societies.

His later work has focused on the broader contrasts between majoritarian and "consensus" democracies. While Lijphart advocated consociationalism primarily for societies deeply divided along ethnic, religious, ideological, or other cleavages, he sees consensus democracy as appropriate for any society with a consensual political culture.[1] In contrast to majoritarian democracies, consensus democracies have multiparty systems, parliamentarism with oversized (and therefore inclusive) cabinet coalitions, proportional electoral systems, corporatist (hierarchical) interest group structures, federal structures, bicameralism, rigid constitutions protected by judicial review, and independent central banks. These institutions ensure, firstly, that only a broad supermajority can control policy and, secondly, that once a coalition takes power, its ability to infringe on minority rights is limited.

In Patterns of Democracy (1999, 2nd ed., 2012), Lijphart classifies thirty-six democracies using these attributes. He finds consensus democracies to be "kinder, gentler" states, having lower incarceration rates, less use of the death penalty, better care for the environment, more foreign aid work, and more welfare spending – qualities he feels "should appeal to all democrats".[2] He also finds that consensus democracies have a less abrasive political culture, more functional business-like proceedings, and a results-oriented ethic. The 2012 edition included data up to 2010 and found proportional representation (PR) was vastly superior for the "quality of democracy", being statistically significantly better for 19 of 19 indicators. On the issue of “effective government” 16 out of 17 indicators pointed to PR as superior, with 9 out of 17 statistically significant. These results held up when controlling for the level of development and population size.

Lijphart has also made influential contributions to methodological debates within comparative politics, most notably through his 1971 article 'Comparative politics and the comparative method', published in the American Political Science Review.[3]


In 1989, Lijphart was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and from 1995 to 1996 served as President of the American Political Science Association.[4] In 1993 he became foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.[5] He was awarded the prestigious Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science in 1997.[6]



Journal articles

Further reading


  1. Lijphart, Arend (1999). Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07893-5.
  2. Lijphart, Arend (1999). Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. p. 293. ISBN 0-300-07893-5.
  3. Lijphart, Arend (1971). "Comparative politics and the comparative method". American Political Science Review. The American Political Science Review, Vol. 65, No. 3. 65 (3): 682–693. doi:10.2307/1955513. JSTOR 1955513.
  4. "Arend Lijphart". Department of Political Science, University of California at San Diego. Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 22 August 2008.
  5. "Arend Lijphart". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  6. "Johan Skytte Prize winners". Skytte Foundation, Uppsala University. Retrieved 23 August 2008.

External links

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