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Democracy by Consensus: Some Conceptual Considerations
Democracy as a political system entailing multi-party competition for power is only one form of democracy. Given that democracy is government by consent, the question is whether a less adversarial system than the party system, which is bound up with majoritarian decision-making, cannot be devised. This paper contends that a system based on consensus as a decision procedure would be a democracy of just such a description. It is important to note that the kind of consensus envisaged here is not agreement regarding questions of truth and morality; it is concerned only with the question of what is to be done. And it is an important fact that reasonable human beings can come to an agreement about what is to be done by virtue of compromise without agreeing on issues of truth or morality. A consensual system will naturally be a non-party arrangement. However, as I explain, such a polity need not be one without parties.