Consociational State
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Basic Information

A Consociational State is a state which has major splits along ethnic, religious, cultural, or linguistic lines in a way that keeps one group from dominating the others, but which has still a functioning government because the rulers consult with the leaders of each of the distinct groups.

Examples include Belgium, Switzerland, Lebanon, and the Netherlands.



Game and Story Use

  • A diverse nation like this will make for more complicated and interesting politics - which, in turn, will result in more adventure seeds.
    • The failure of such a state - as seen in the former Yugoslavia - can also be an interesting backdrop to all sorts of things, although outright warfare needn't be the absolute outcome if a peaceful breakup can be managed: the balkanisation, ethnic strife and general assorted conflict can also become significant issues long before final collapse.
    • Possible failure states include: one faction or bloc manages to dominate all the others, division between factions becomes irreconcilable, friction between factions leaves the alliance unable to handle a crisis. The factions somehow blending into one is not a failure state as such, but the state will no longer be consociational.
  • It gets even more interesting if the player characters originated from different factions within the nation.
  • In fantasy and science fiction settings, the nation might even be divided among different species.
  • Artificial consociational states - such as hasty alliances against a common problem, or those produced when occupiers carve up territory with no care for those living in it - may be constantly on the brink of failure.
  • Alternatively, this sort of state may become aggressive as its leaders attempt to drive the construction of an alternative, national identity against an external foreign enemy - see, for example, the foreign policy of post unification Italy … or, for that matter, the treatment of Earth in a lot of Sci-fi as "EarthGov" attempts to persuade humanity to abandon their old national identities and unite in the face of alien species…
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