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Timing and sequencing in post-conflict elections

Reilly, B. (2015) Timing and sequencing in post-conflict elections. Centre for Research on Peace and Development (CRPD), Leuven, Belgium.



The centrality of elections to post-conflict peacebuilding has exposed numerous issues of timing and sequencing. One is the relationship between the electoral process and the new political order. Should elections precede the writing of a new Constitution, so as to confer democratic legitimacy on that process via a widely-representative constituent assembly, as in Nepal? Or should they take place only once the rules of the game are clearly established, as many Arab Spring reformers, fearful of the likely consequences of Islamist parties gaining power, argued? Similarly, should local elections be held before national ones, as a first step towards democracy, or should national elections be given precedence, to help foster nationwide political parties? These are not abstract questions in post-conflict environments, where elections are often held prematurely in response to both local and international pressures. This short-term bias leads to several recurring pathologies, with questions of longer-term governability too often overlooked in favour of short-term demands. A striking example of this problem is the recent proliferation of post-election power sharing deals to resolve disputed elections, as in Kenya, Zimbabwe, and most recently Afghanistan, which entrench political divisions into the Constitution through the creation of dual-executive systems which are inefficient but expedient. Political compromise therefore comes at the cost of cohesive governance.

Item Type: Working Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs
Series Name: CRPD Working Paper No. 26
Publisher: Centre for Research on Peace and Development (CRPD)
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