Power Sharing: Class 10 Civics Chapter 1 Notes
I. Need for Power Sharing
How democracies around the world handle the demand for power-sharing?
The following examples of Belgium and Sri Lanka show the structure of power-sharing, along with different types of power-sharing models, that can be used in a democracy.
Ethnic composition of Belgium
- Out of Belgium’s total population, the highest majority is the Dutch-speaking community, followed by the French-speaking and the German-speaking communities.
- In capital Brussels, the French speakers formed a majority, and the Dutch speakers were a minority.
- In this diverse population, multiple cultural differences sprang up over time.
Ethnic composition of Sri Lanka
- The Sri Lankan population is divided into two large social groups, Sinhala-speakers and Tamil-speakers.
- The Tamils of Sri Lanka were further divided into two subgroups:
- Tamil natives of the country called ‘Sri Lankan Tamils’.
- Tamils who settled in Sri Lanka during the colonial period, called ‘Indian Tamils’.
Sri Lanka’s majoritarian model of power-sharing
- Sinhala community leaders, wanting the rule of majority, adopted the concept of majoritarianism in Sri Lanka.
- Due to this, several changes were made in the Sri Lankan administration:
- A law was passed that recognised Sinhala as the only official language, thereby reducing the status of the Tamil language.
- The government favoured Sinhala applicants over Tamils for university positions and government jobs.
- The government openly supported Buddhism over any other religion or culture.
- Sri Lankan Tamils were thus deprived of their equal political, cultural and opportunity status and established political parties to struggle for the recognition of their rights.
- All these factors led to a civil war with thousands of deaths on both sides.
- This war finally ended in 2009 with the victory of majority dominance as the power-sharing model in Sri Lanka.
Belgium’s accommodation model of power-sharing
- Unlike Sri Lanka, Belgium recognised its regional and cultural diversities.
- The Belgian government amended its constitution four times to establish equal rights for all communities.
- Amendments made in the Constitution of Belgium
- The number of Dutch-speaking and French-speaking ministers would be equal in the central government.
- Special laws had to have the support of a majority of members from each linguistic group.
- Several powers of the central government would be given to state governments.
- State governments would not be considered subordinate to the central government.
- Brussels would have a separate government, with both communities having equal representation.
- A ‘community government’ would be elected by people belonging to each separate language group, which would have powers over cultural, educational, and language-related issues.
II. Forms of Power Sharing
What are the different forms of power-sharing?
Horizontal power sharing
- This is the distribution of power among different organs of government.
- The three main organs of government — legislature, executive and judiciary — are separated from each other by the constitution.
- They are equivalent in position, status and power in their own respective fields.
- These organs are independent, keep a check on each other and thus maintain a balance of power.
- This is known as horizontal power distribution and is a system of checks and balances.
- When ministers and government officials exercise power, they are accountable to the parliament or state legislative assemblies for their actions.
- Similarly, even if judges are appointed by the executive, they have been given the power to check the working of the executive as well as the legislature.
Vertical power sharing
- This is distribution of power among different levels of government.
- Power sharing can happen among governments at different levels, for example, a general or central government for the entire country and governments at the state, provincial and regional levels.
- This is known as the vertical distribution of power.
- India has a central or union government at the highest level, followed by state governments at the provincial or regional level.
- The state governments also get into a power sharing arrangement with their lower levels of government, such as the municipality and panchayat.
- This division of power between governments is prescribed as per the constitution.
- Power sharing can also take place among different social groups such as religious and linguistic groups.
- The ‘community government’ in Belgium works on this model.
- Socially weaker sections and women in some countries are represented in their legislatures and administration as special social groups.
- The Indian practice of reserving some constituencies for candidates from certain groups works on this model.
- This method gives minority communities a fair share of power.
Distribution of power among political parties, pressure groups
- Power can be shared among different political parties and social groups that stand for different ideologies or viewpoints.
- Two or more parties can form an alliance to contest elections, then form a coalition government if their alliance is elected and thus share power.
- Several interest groups such as traders, businesspersons, farmers, workers may gain a share in governmental power.
- They can participate either through being in various governmental committees or through influencing the decision-making process.