Class X - Political Science

Chapter - 1 Power Sharing

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Power Sharing In Belgium


  • Of the country’s total population, 59 per cent lives in the Flemish region and speaks Dutch language.
  • Another 40 per cent people live in the Wallonia region and speak French. Remaining one per cent of the Belgians speak German.
  • In the capital city Brussels, 80 per cent people speak French while 20 per cent are Dutch
  • The minority French-speaking community was relatively rich and powerful. This was resented by the Dutch-speaking community who got the benefit of economic development.and education much later.
  • This led to tensions between the Dutch-speaking and French-speaking communities during the 1950s and 1960s. The tension between the two communities was more acute in Brussels.
  • Brussels presented a special problem: the Dutch-speaking people constituted a majority in the country, but a minority in the capita



  • Constitution prescribes that the number of Dutch and French-speaking ministers shall be equal in the central government. Some special laws require the support of majority of members from each linguistic group.
  • Many powers of the central government have been given to state governments of the two regions of the country. The state governments are not subordinate to the Central Government. ï�¬
  • Brussels has a separate government in which both the communities have equal representation. The French speaking people accepted equal representation in Brussels because the Dutch-speaking community has accepted equal representation in the Central Government.
  • ‘Community government’ (third kind of agreement) is elected by people belonging to one language community – Dutch, French and German-speaking – no matter where they live. This government has the power regarding cultural, educational and language-related issues.


Majoritarianism in Sri Lanka

  • The major social groups are the Sinhala-speakers (74 per cent) and the Tamil-speakers (18 per cent).
  • Among Tamils there are two subgroups. Tamil natives of the country are called ‘Sri Lankan Tamils’ (13 per cent). The rest, whose forefathers came from India as plantation workers during colonial period, are called ‘Indian Tamils’.
  • Most of the Sinhala speaking people are Buddhists, while most of the Tamils are Hindus or Muslims. There are about 7 per cent Christians, who are both Tamil and Sinhala.
  • In 1956, an Act was passed to recognize Sinhala as the only official language, thus disregarding Tamil. The governments followed preferential policies that favored Sinhala applicants for university positions and government jobs. A new constitution stipulated that the state shall protect and foster Buddhism.
  • Sri Lankan Tamils felt that none of the major political parties led by the Buddhist Sinhala leaders was sensitive to their language and culture. They felt that the constitution and government policies denied them equal political rights, discriminated against them in getting jobs and other opportunities and ignored their interests. As a result, the relations between the Sinhala and Tamil communities strained over time.
  • The Sri Lankan Tamils launched parties and struggles for the recognition of Tamil as an official language, for regional autonomy and equality of opportunity in securing education and jobs. But their demand for more autonomy to provinces populated by the Tamils was repeatedly denied.
  • By 1980s several political organizations were formed demanding an independent Tamil Eelam (state) in northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka. The distrust between the two communities turned into widespread conflict. It soon turned into a CIVIL WAR. As a result, thousands of people of both the communities have been killed.


Forms of power-sharing

  • Power is shared among different organs of government, such as the legislature, executive and judiciary called as horizontal distribution of power because it allows different organs of government placed at the same level to exercise different powers. Such a separation ensures that none of the organs can exercise unlimited power. Each organ checks the others. This results in a balance of power among various institutions. Judges are appointed by the executive, they can check the functioning of executive or laws made by the legislatures. This arrangement is called a system of checks and balances.
  • Power can be shared among governments at different levels – a general government for the entire country and governments at the provincial or regional level. Such a general government for the entire country is usually called federal government. In India, we refer to it as the Central or Union Government. In India, the government at the provincial or regional level are called as State Governments.The constitution clearly lays down the powers of different levels of government. This is called federal division of power.
  • Power may also be shared among different social groups such as the religious and linguistic groups. Example- ‘Community government’ in Belgium.This type of arrangement is meant to give space in the government and administration to diverse social groups who otherwise would feel alienated from the government. This method is used to give minority communities a fair share in power.
  • Power sharing arrangements can also be seen in the way political parties, pressure groups and movements control or influence those in power.

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