The shift to consensus democracy and limits of institutional design in Asia

Yuko Kasuya, Benjamin Reilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


A ‘majoritarian turn’ identified by scholars of Asian democracy in the 1990s saw the rise of mixed-member majoritarian electoral systems and more centripetal party competition across both Northeast and Southeast Asia. In this paper, we argue that since the 2000s, the institutional pendulum has shifted, with more consensual approaches to democracy appearing to better represent key identity cleavages of gender, ethnicity, and territory—a trend evident not just in East Asia but South Asia as well. This new ‘Asian model’ typically involves increasing the proportional components of existing electoral formulas and grafting gender quotas, multiethnic party lists, and quasi-federal elements onto ostensibly majoritarian state structures. We show that these reforms have, as intended, mostly increased female and ethnic minority representation and decentralized governance structures. At the same time, however, these de jure changes are not associated with de facto political development in terms of greater democratic quality, counter to theoretical expectations. Indeed, democracy has declined across most of Asia at the same time as its democratic institutions have become more consensual.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)844-870
Number of pages27
JournalPacific Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Asia
  • Democracy
  • elections
  • electoral systems
  • quotas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The shift to consensus democracy and limits of institutional design in Asia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this