Capital Article Article

Simonaire, Meagan, Del. Meagan Simonaire: Diversity vital for school board, March 15, 2017.

Snider Comment

The political theory Ms. Simonaire is espousing is known as Consociationalism, which is juxtaposed to majoritarian democracy. Consociationalism is associated with European countries with deeply divided ethnic, religious, racial, national, linguistic, or other groups, so power, like over the school board, is divided by group. Consociationalism has traditionally been very unpopular in America. Among the criticisms of consociationalism are that rights are given to communities rather than individuals, that it hardens ethnic and other divisions, and that by representing some groups disproportionately it under represents other groups.

It would be helpful if Ms. Simonaire explicitly described and justified which groups she is including in her consociational appointment commission. Most European nations–and some American school boards–that want to ensure diversity use proportional representation, which is very different than consociationalism. provides a good description of the most popular type of proportional representation system used in America.

My impression–largely based on listening to the various bill hearings–is that not a single member of the Anne Arundel delegation to the Maryland General Assembly has even a rudimentary knowledge of comparative electoral systems. Perhaps more disturbing, they either do not know or care about such ignorance.