This talk starts with the observation that a significant theoretical and empirical question underlying much of the literature on post-conflict state-building is what institutions offer the best prospect for peace and democracy in divided societies recovering from conflict. This debate is highly relevant for many countries and with much invested by third parties, including international and regional organisations, donor governments and NGOs, in post-conflict reconstruction and a mixed track record of success at best, the question explored by this paper is whether consociational institutional designs–widely applied in policy practice and severely criticised in academic discours–can accomplish the twin goals of peace and democracy in divided post-conflict societies. Examining the claims of supporters and detractors of consociationalism, I argue that there is substantial conceptual and empirical evidence that consociational institutions hold significant promise for building democratic states after conflict in divided societies.