Meaning and Forms of Power Sharing

The process of distribution of the power of a country or a region amongst the different parts or organs of any particular government such as the judiciary, executive, and legislature can be defined as power sharing. With the help of this process, several countries have achieved stability in the best way on their order of maintaining a political calm. Apart from that, power sharing also involves sharing of power along with the different district levels such as local, state, and union.

What are the Forms of Power Sharing?

We are living in a modern world and hence democracy would be an imitation of that as well. So, in this modern world and its democracy, there could be many different forms of power sharing.

A Horizontal Distribution: When it comes to a horizontal distribution of the entire power, there is a division of the power amongst the different organs that are present in the government. A few examples of these organs can include executive, legislature, and judiciary as well. One of the countries that practice this type of power sharing in the Government in India.

A Vertical Distribution (Federal Government): In this particular case, the power will be shared amongst the different levels of the governments. There is one country that practices this type of sharing of power and it is the United States of America. While different countries practice different ways to share power, all of these methods are pretty effective and important.

Sharing Power Amongst Social Groups: Here is one of the forms of power-sharing that you need to know about. In this case of sharing the power, it is shared amongst the different types of social groups that are present in any area or region or an entire country. There can be different social groups such as religious associations and linguistic groups as well. One of the main examples of this type of power-sharing is the community government that people use in Belgium.

Some Other Types: There are also some other types of power-sharing that people need to know about. There are some political parties that often tend to have some power. Also, with the inclusion of pressure groups as well as the movements, the distribution of power is pretty much equal. There are also some other groups that tend to have a similar influence on those who are currently in power.

Story of Power Sharing in Belgium and Sri Lanka

To understand majoritarianism and accommodation better, let us take the case of two countries, Sri Lanka and Belgium. Sri Lanka, with its varied population of two crores, is an island country. It has 74 percent of Sinhala-speaking people, who are mostly Buddhists. Out of the remaining population, 18% speak Tamil. This group can be further subdivided into Indian Tamils, who formed 5%, and Sri Lankan Tamils, who comprised 13% and are concentrated in the north and east of the country. 

Sri Lanka used the idea of majoritarianism to handle this cultural diversity. After gaining independence in 1948, the Sinhalese majority attempted to remodel Sri Lanka as a Sinhalese nation-state. In 1956, the official language act, popularly known as the Sinhala only act, was enacted. Special policies supporting the Sinhala aspirins for University and government posts were created. Buddhism was made the national religion. 

Let us now see what Belgium had to face.

Belgium is located in northwest Europe. Out of the total population of around 1 crore, 59% speak Dutch and live in the Flemish region. 40% speak French and are settled in the Vilonia region, and 1% speak German. In contrast, the capital city of Brussels has 80% French-speaking people and the remaining 20% speak Dutch. The French-speaking minority in Belgium were wealthy and the Dutch community hated this, leading to tensions during the 1950s and 60s. This friction was highest in Brussels where the Dutch-speaking community was a minority. Unlike Sri Lanka, Belgium took up the approach of accommodation. 

Here we see that Belgium gave regard to the feelings of cultural differences, while Sri Lanka forced its domination over the minority class. Belgium ensured stability through its policy of accommodation while in Sri Lanka majoritarianism, even today continues to be a threat to its unity and growth.

This is all about power-sharing the way various governments have been formed in due course of time. Dealing with internal communal and religious problems is dealt with such precision. It all depends on what the contemporary sovereign power decides for the people of the country. 

FAQs on Power Sharing

1. What are the Forms of Power Sharing in Belgium and Sri Lanka?

In the country of Belgium, the major power was provided to the French-speaking minority community and that led to several forms of tensions between the other groups such as those who spoke Dutch. Since most communities would speak French, this became a very common thing to provide more power to these communities. A similar approach was seen in Sri Lanka where a Sinhala government was chosen as the main one and that led to tensions between the government and the Sri Lankan Tamils.

2. Why is Power Sharing Desirable in this Modern Day World?

The first reason for power-sharing is prudential where the constancy of political order is increased by lessening conflicts, ensuring stability and unity, and enhancing citizens’ participation. The second reason is Moral, which emphasizes that very active power-sharing is valuable. In a democracy, power-sharing is not only important to those on whom it is exercised, but also to those who exercise it. under moral power-sharing, the government becomes legitimate and responsible towards the people as they are the source of political power. 

3. How did Belgium deal with power-sharing?

The number of Dutch and French-speaking ministers was made equal in the central government. A separate government was established in the capital city of Brussels, with equal representation of French and Dutch speaking people, under the condition that neither of them could take a unilateral decision. Powers were shared with the state government, which was considered equal to the central government. A third government called the community government elected by community members dealing with the cultural, educational, and language associated concerns of the community. The accommodation approach might look difficult but has been successful in evading linguistic differences within the country. 

4. What are the different forms of power-sharing? 

Power-sharing can take many forms, but there are four most common ones.  The first is the power-sharing among different organs of government, such as the legislature, executive, and judiciary. This is called the horizontal distribution of power. Each organ, which holds parallel positions, checks the other, resulting in a balance of power among different institutions. This is also called a system of checks and balances. Power-sharing in India is not limited to the government, but also present among different social groups, including linguistic and religious groups.

5. How did Sri Lanka deal with power-sharing? 

The segregation moves augmented a sense of separation in Sri Lankan Tamils, and they felt they were denied political and social equality. Thus, the Sri Lankan Tamils began to protest for the rights of Tamil as an official language and brought about social and political equality along with regional liberty. By the 1980s, this upheaval grew into a demand for free Tamil Eelam or state in northern and eastern parts of the country. This led to a prolonged civil war causing widespread disorder and extreme hindrance to the development of Sri Lanka.