Elite Accommodation (in Canada)
A form of collaboration which is based on the notion that elites from opposing factions or groups in society are capable of reaching accommodation in the face of a lack of consensus at the societal level.
(Baier, Gerald. 2005. “The EU’s Constitutional Treaty: Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations – Lessons from Canada.” Regional and Federal Studies 15(2): 205-223.)
Part of the practice of “consociational democracy”, elite accommodation is a form of collaboration which is based on the notion that elites from opposing factions or groups in society are capable of reaching accommodation in the face of a lack of consensus at the societal level (Lijphart). In other words, contrary to the wishes or sentiments of their own followers, leaders will strike agreements, often quietly or in secret, in order to preserve the overall stability of the system. It has been argued by a number of analysts that at least until 30 odd years ago, elite accommodation was crucial both in the striking of the original confederation package and in maintaining the stability of the federation over time (Brock). It has been noted that these consociational practices began to break down, primarily in the 1960s when certain elites, those from Quebec in particular, were no longer willing to reach quiet accommodation and when, with the increasing scrutiny from the mass media and a more perceptive and critical citizen body, it became increasingly difficult to strike deals in secret or to arrive at mutually acceptable bargain. Certainly the experiences of Meech Lake and, especially, Charlottetown where elites caved in and acceded to a direct referendum like process for the ratification of the accord in question, suggested the end of the last vestiges of elite accommodation in Canada (Baier 2005, 209).