consensus democracy

consensus democracy is the most rigorous (and laborious) form of political decision making:

It requires a very high threshold of agreement before allowing a decision to be made, and is usually reserved for decisions that involve extraordinary sacrifices, are irreversible or otherwise have important long term consequences to the group in question.

It is a much stricter concept than the looser deliberative democracy which terminates in voting - and is usually only practiced by religious and academic communities and intentional community, e.g. in a village protocol.

Actual or quasi-judicial mechanisms, e.g. science courts, ijtihad, may involve an adversarial process, but only to seek a consensus among parties, all of whom have submitted in advance to a binding decision.

That is, they formally and politically commit to following a strict deliberative protocol and implementing its results strictly, often as a result of religious obligation. Such methods are followed by the Society of Friends, were strongly advocated by Muhammad and used in early Muslim philosophy to form the sharia based on the hadith he uttered (though the debate was largely confined to the question of "what the Prophet really meant") and are proposed in liberation theology and in liberal Islam. Modern Islamic philosophy, modern Catholic philosophy and ecological ethics often focus on the consensus democracy model.

More secular models as seen in feminism usually assume democratic structuring in the group in question, and a ethics in which elaborate debates about ethics and above all transcendental moral codes are to be avoided. This is essential if only to saving precious time:

Consensus decision making seeks the agreement of all group members on a decision. All members have the choice of either:
  • agreeing - supporting the proposal
  • blocking - vetoing the proposal
  • standing aside - opposing the proposal but agreeing to act in solidarity with the group.

In processes that require full consensus (like a jury in most criminal cases) any one member can block a decision. Variants exist where a lesser degree of consensus is required: a decision is then allowed to proceed even if it is blocked by one or more inidividuals. Degrees of consensus have been described as unanimity, unanimity minus one unanimity minus two etc.

Unanimity minus one allows decisions to be made with not more than one member opposed. The dissenting members are asked to write a dissensus (minority opinion) to be included in the minutes, possibly including a with prediction of an undesirable outcome that may happen - if the decision proceeds. Thus in the event that any of the predicited consequences were to occur the group could recognize these and make improved decisions in the future.

In practice, consensus democracy tends being a focus and priority on group solidarity, sometimes to the exclusion of decisionmaking. In popular culture, the Ents in Tolkien's classic Lord of the Rings are described as practitioners of consensus democracy. This, to them, was also a grave, near-religious obligation.

see also:
grassroots democracy
deliberative democracy
anticipatory democracy
representative democracy

refer link:en: wikipedia: consensus democracy.