Stephen J. Larin and Marc Röggla. Participatory consociationalism? No, but South Tyrol's Autonomy Convention is evidence that power-sharing can transform conflicts. Nations and Nationalism. Vol 25, Issue 3, 2019. Pp. 91018 - 1041.
South Tyrol is an autonomous, predominantly German-speaking province in Italy, and one of the most successful cases of power-sharing in the world. Nevertheless, the Province recently conducted a participatory-democratic process known as the ‘Autonomy Convention’ to debate and draft a proposal for revising the 1972 Autonomy Statute. It is the first such process with the stated intent of amending a power-sharing arrangement, and our research questions are whether this represents a new type of consociational negotiation, and what made it possible. The answer to the first question is ‘no’, and the Convention is best seen as a ‘participatory-ish consultation’ which had no formal power. But the problems that it faced, and the fact that it occurred at all, are evidence of consociational democracy's potential to transform conflicts. The Convention, we argue, is the result of ‘normal’, not ‘ethnic’ politics, and two generations of successful power-sharing made that possible by desecuritising the relationship between South Tyrol's three official linguistic groups.