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In this chapter we develop our theory of the relationship between power-sharing institutions and democracy as “the art of the possible” in post-conflict states. Noting the challenging environment that actors confront following civil war, we evaluate the potential for establishing minimalist democracy in post-conflict states as well as the obstacles that inhibit the creation of democracy in its liberal or participatory forms. Power-sharing institutions help make the emergence of minimalist democracy possible, we argue, by providing former belligerents with the assurances necessary to play by the electoral rules of the game. We further identify two mechanisms via which power sharing helps foster minimalist democracy. The first, which facilitates democracy from above by constraining governments’ ability to abuse their citizens, centers on power sharing’s role in establishing the foundations for an effective system of rule of law. In terms of the second mechanism, power sharing facilitates democracy from below by providing for a more equal distribution of rights and freedoms across social groups.
A functioning rule of law system helps facilitate democracy from above by constraining government from discriminating against or otherwise limiting the ability of citizens and groups to participate in politics. This chapter provides evidence to support our argument that one of the mechanisms through which power sharing encourages the emergence of minimalist democracy is by helping establish the rule of law in states emerging from civil war. Specifically, we consider how power sharing allows for de facto judicial independence. We argue that the rudimentary separation of powers that takes place under power sharing produces a political environment under which judicial independence is likely to flourish. We also show that power sharing has a positive impact on a more expansive understanding of the rule of law, with power-sharing arrangements influencing governments to behave proactively by granting and protecting rights and freedoms evenly across social groups and ensuring that the actions of one individual or group do not threaten the rights and freedoms of other social groups.
One of the mechanisms by which power sharing contributes to the development of minimalist democracy, we argue, is by helping to distribute political power and resources more equitably across individuals and social groups. This chapter tests the existence of this relationship, which we refer to as involving the promotion of democracy from below. Our claim in this instance is that power-sharing institutions can help empower citizens and groups in ways that have the effect of enhancing their ability to participate in politics. This occurs as groups formerly excluded from politics are included in one or more domains of state power and as the distribution of resources enables individuals and groups, particularly those that were formerly marginalized, to take part in the political process.
The introduction begins with an overview of the difficulties that countries emerging from civil war face in establishing a stable peace on the one hand and democracy on the other. Focusing on the complications that security concerns pose for achieving both of these goals, the chapter outlines power-sharing institutions’ capacity to stabilize the peace and lay the groundwork for democracy by addressing rival actors’ apprehensions. It then engages with the critique that there exists a trade-off between security and democracy as well as the claim that power-sharing arrangements inhibit the development of democracy. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the analytical tools used to test our argument, provides an overview of the book’s goals, and outlines the plan of the book.
This chapter focuses on tests of the relationship between power sharing and the transition to minimalist democracy in the aftermath of civil war. We begin by explaining the need to account empirically for the effect that difficult post-conflict environments may have on countries’ ability to make a transition to democracy. We then conduct an empirical test of our central hypothesis regarding the existence of a positive relationship between extensive power sharing and the transition to minimalist democracy in post-civil war states. Finally, seeking to respond to critics who argue that power sharing impedes the development of forms of democracy that might be considered more “aspirational” than minimalist democracy, we examine the effects that power sharing has on democratization two, five, and ten years after the end of civil war using V-Dem’s measures of electoral, liberal, and egalitarian democracy.
The final chapter summarizes the book’s findings, evaluates its contributions to the study of post-conflict democracy as well as the limitations of the research, assesses policy implications, and suggests additional avenues for future research.
This chapter assesses the evolving literature on power sharing in the context of deeply divided societies. We note that the earliest studies of power sharing understood these mechanisms as a means of fostering democracy under difficult circumstances. Power sharing was typically thought to be the best hope for preventing fragile democracies, often divided along ethnic lines, from spiraling toward violence, dictatorship, or both. Paradoxically, more recent studies now take these same power-sharing institutions to task for being insufficiently democratic, with the most frequently heard complaint being that these institutions provide a means to block the majority’s will. While acknowledging these concerns, we argue that power sharing remains the most viable means by which a limited form of democracy can be secured in states emerging from conflict. We further consider the literature on the relationship between anocracies and conflict, suggesting that power-sharing settlements are unlikely to foster the creation of regimes that are particularly prone either to internal or external wars.
This chapter provides an overview of what currently constitutes the state of the art in scholarship and practice concerning power sharing, democracy, and democratization. We begin by identifying four distinct types of power-sharing measures – political, military, territorial, and economic – that have been adopted by civil war rivals in an effort to peacefully resolve conflict. We compare our understanding of power sharing to that of other scholars and describe patterns in the use of power-sharing institutions at the conclusion of civil wars. We then turn our attention to the outcomes of central interest to this volume: post-civil war democracy and democratization. After defining and providing a rationale for our choice to focus on the transition to minimalist democracy following the end of civil war, we consider alternative means of conceptualizing and measuring democracy, discussing their relevance and limitations as applied to the post-conflict context. We conclude by critically assessing the international community’s democracy promotion efforts.
Power Sharing and Democracy in Post-Civil War States examines the challenge of promoting democracy in the aftermath of civil war. Hartzell and Hoddie argue that minimalist democracy is the most realistic form of democracy to which states emerging from civil war violence can aspire. The adoption of power-sharing institutions within civil war settlements helps mitigate insecurity and facilitate democracy's emergence. Power sharing promotes 'democratization from above' by limiting the capacity of the state to engage in predatory behavior, and 'democratization from below' by empowering citizens to participate in politics. Drawing on cross-national and case study evidence, Hartzell and Hoddie find that post-civil war countries that adopt extensive power sharing are ultimately more successful in transitioning to minimalist democracy than countries that do not. Power Sharing and Democracy in Post-Civil War States presents a new and hopeful understanding of what democracy can look like and how it can be fostered.