The reinvention of consensus politics: governing without a legislative majority in the Netherlands 2010–2021


For most of the twentieth century, Dutch governments commanded majorities in both houses of parliament, but after 2010 they mostly lack majorities in the Senate. How did this change from governing with a legislative majority to governing without a legislative majority affect political culture? To what extent did the norms of consensus government developed earlier persist in this period of governing without a legislative majority? We operationalize political culture by means of the seven rules of Dutch politics by Lijphart. We combine in-depth interviews and documentary sources to assess the extent to which these norms persisted or changed. We conclude that Dutch politicians used the existing political–cultural infrastructure of consensus democracy when the government lost its legislative majority, although not all consensual norms persisted.

Acta Politica, online first
Tom Louwerse
Tom Louwerse
Associate Professor

Associate Professor in Political Science at Leiden University