A constructivist realist critique of idealism and conservative realism
to dog Northern Ireland. Consociationalism’s conservative realism makes the
unrealistic assumptions that the people are deferential to their benign political elites and that these elites reach agreement and then simply deliver their
ethnic group to any deal.
Idealism’s reluctance to accept and valuepluralism, its wishful thinking, and
its hostility and moralising attitude to politics leaves it ill equipped to explain
the politics of the peace process. Realism enjoys considerable advantages over
idealism: emphasis on power, acceptance of valuepluralism, the