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Elections and Post-Conflict Political Development

Reilly, B. (2013) Elections and Post-Conflict Political Development. In: Berdal, Mats and Zaum, Dominik, (eds.) The Political Economy of Statebuilding: Power after Peace. Routledge, London, pp. 33-47.

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Elections are a centrepiece of most international efforts to rebuild states and promote democracy after, violent conflict. By enshrining a new political order centred on rule-based competition for office rather than open warfare, it is argued, elections in post-conflict settings can channel the expression of societal conflicts so that they take place within the boundaries of a democratic political system rather than through armed violence. By replacing the rule of the bullet with the ballot, elections directly impact upon the political economy of post-war states. Elections are thus seen as a key step on the road from war to peace. Particularly in high-profile international interventions, elections are also symbolically important, signalling to both domestic and international audiences that the cloak of legitimate government authority has been restored - an essential step in the process of state reconstruction. For all of these reasons, elections are today considered a central part of the process of post-conflict state building. Iraq and Afghanistan are only the latest in a long line of international interventions stretching back at least as far as the United Nations operation in Cambodia in 1993 in which elections have been assigned a dual role in transitions to democracy and from violent conflict.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation: Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs
School of Management and Governance
Publisher: Routledge
Copyright: The Author
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