Power Sharing

Power sharing is one of the most important aspects of democracy. However, there are instances where one group or the other in a country has felt marginalised. Belgium and Sri Lanka are two good examples of this situation. Belgium is a small country in Europe whose population comprises of Dutch speakers, French speakers and German speakers. Brussels is the capital of Belgium. Despite the fact that Dutch-speaking community forms the majority, the minority French-speaking community was rich and enjoyed more power. This was resented by the Dutch speakers. In Sri Lanka, there are two major groups – Sinhala speakers and Tamil speakers. Most of the Tamilians are Hindus or Muslims, while Sinhala-speaking people are Buddhist. Christians constitute 7% of the population, both Tamil and Sinhala. The Sinhala speakers form the majority. The government in Sri Lanka practised majoritarianism which led the country to a bloody civil war. Belgian leaders worked out a solution to ensure that no single group can take decisions unilaterally. They amended the Constitution of the country four times during 1970-1993. They ensured that the government in Brussels had equal representation. But Sri Lankan leaders showed a contrasting attitude. While Belgians realised the importance of accommodation, the Sri Lankans forcefully established ‘Sinhala Supremacy’ over the minority. There are different forms of power sharing, like power sharing among different organs of the government, power sharing between central and state government, power sharing between different social groups and power sharing between different political parties, pressure groups and movements. A Coalition Government is a form of power sharing when no single party gains majority in the Legislature. Power sharing also extends to lower levels of government, such as municipality and Panchayat.

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