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Resumen: Arend Lijphart’s well-known distinction between consociational (or consensus) democracies and majoritarian (or Westminster) democracies deserves a critical reconsideration. According to Lijphart, the main difference between the two ideal types of democracies lies in the fact that in the first one the system is led by the logic of the confrontation between majority (government) and opposition, while in the second the core of the system is the accommodation between various minorities. This classification takes into account only the relationship between the parties in Parliament. It consider, however, neither the form of government (if by “form” of government only the system of legal and constitutional rules is meant) nor the political system (if by “political” system the whole functioning of political relations is meant). As a matter of fact, party relationships do not interest the “form” of government, while the consensus or majority logic of functioning of the political system depends on many factors, far beyond parliamentary negotiation. What Lijpharts theory explains is only the functioning of the parliamentary-party subsystem and only within these limits the classification has still its importance. Thus the concepts delimited, it is easy to note that the Westminster experiences deeply influenced the scientific and political discussion in Italy, where many authors and political forces estimated Westminster as “the” model to imitate. There are, nevertheless, many reasons not to trust the qualities of the model once they are applied to other political traditions. Moreover, the model itself seems to be weak from the point of view of its democratic performance. If democracy is (or should be) mainly self-determination, it would be naive to believe that the ideal of democracy is realized if, with their votes, citizens are able to choose a government. What we call a “representative democracy” can’t be reduced to the simple choose of a clear and stable majority. And what Italy needs today is something more, in a moral and cultural perspective.
Palabras clave: Consensus Democracy. Majoritarian Democracy. Form of Government. British Political System. American Political System.