Power Sharing

Power Sharing

There are two ways of running a government. One is a tyranny – In this, the power is concentrated in the hands of a leader or a king. On the other hand, the other one is a democracy. In this, the power is delegated at different levels. We don’t need to tell you this, but of course, the latter is better. So what is Power Sharing? Now, before you understand why is power sharing so important? Let us learn, what is power sharing and what are the forms of power sharing. So, let’s find out more about Power Sharing.

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Introduction to Power Sharing

Power sharing means the distribution of power among the organs of the government such as the legislature, executive, and judiciary. Power sharing helps in achieving the stability of political order. In power-sharing, power might even be shared at distinct levels such as union, state and local.

Forms of Power Sharing

Power Sharing

Source: Konica Minolta

In a modern democracy, power-sharing arrangements can take many forms.

  • Horizontal distribution of power: In this, the power is shared among different organs of government such as the legislature, executive, and judiciary. This type of power sharing is prevalent in India.
  • Federal government (vertical distribution of power): In this, the power can be shared among governments at different levels. This type of power sharing is prevalent in the USA.
  • Power sharing among different social groups: Power can be shared among social groups such as linguistic and religious groups. For instance, Community government’ in Belgium.
  • Other types of power-sharing: Power sharing is also seen in political parties, pressure groups and movements control or influence those in power.

Terms you need to know

  • Majoritarian: It is a belief that the majority community should be able to rule a country in whichever way it wants.
  • Community Government: A type of Government which is elected by people belonging to one language community is called community government.
  • Prudential: It involves decision making based on prudence, or on a careful calculation of gains and losses.
  • Checks and Balances: In this system, each organ of the government checks the others which results in a balance of power among various institutions
  • Reserved Constituencies: In this, the constituencies are reserved in the Assemblies and the Parliament for minorities in order to give them a fair share in power.
  • Coalition government: When the alliance of two or more parties gets elected and forms a government it is known as the Coalition Government.

Story of Belgium

Belgium is a European country with a population of a little over one crore. In this country, the ethnic composition is complex. Of the total population, 59 percent lives in the Flemish region and speaks the Dutch language. Another 40 percent people live in the Wallonia region and speak French. Remaining one percent of the Belgians speak German.

In the capital city, Brussels, 80 percent people speak French while 20 percent are Dutch speaking. The French-speaking minority community was relatively rich and powerful. This made the Dutch-speaking community angry. From the 1950s to 1960s, there were tensions between the two communities because of these differences.

The Story of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is located south of India. This island nation has a diverse population of two crore people. In Sri Lanka, the major social groups are the Sinhala-speakers (74 percent) and the Tamil-speakers (18 percent). Tamils in Sri Lanka were divided into two groups:

  • Sri Lankan Tamils (13 percent) – Tamil natives of the country
  • Indian Tamils (5 percent) – came from India during the colonial period as plantation workers

Sinhala-speaking people are mainly Buddhists while the Tamil speaking people were either Hindus or Muslims. There was even 7 percent Christians, who are both Tamil and Sinhala.

Majoritarianism in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, the democratically elected government opted for a series of Majoritarian policy measures because they desired Sinhala supremacy. Some of the measures taken were:

  • Sinhala was the only official language.
  • The governments followed preferential policies and Sinhala applicants.

This made the Sri Lankan Tamils feel alienated. As a result of this, the Sri Lankan Tamils launched parties and began struggles for the recognition of Tamil as an official language. By the 1980s several political organisations were formed. They demanded for an independent Tamil Eelam (state) in northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka. All this soon turned into a Civil War, thereby, causing distress in the nation.

Accommodation in Belgium

From 1970 to 1993, the constitution of Belgian was amended four times. The idea was to work out an arrangement that would make everyone to live together. Key elements of the Belgian model are:

  • The number of Dutch and French-speaking ministers shall be equal in the central government.
  • Certain powers of the central government were given to state governments of the two regions of the country.
  • There was a separate government for Brussels in which both the communities had equal representation.
  • There was a provision of ‘community government’ that was elected by people belonging to one language.

Hence, it was a fairly better alternative than the majoritarian policy of Sri Lanka.

Question for you

Q1: Why power-sharing is desirable?

Ans: Power sharing is good since it helps in the reduction of the possibilities of conflicts between the social groups. In the broader view, power sharing is the very spirit of democracy. Thus, power sharing is good.

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